What is a Teen Entrepreneur? And How Parents Can Be Supportive

Teen Advisory Committee-13

Photo Credit: Vancouver Public Library

Let’s be honest, the first time I heard ‘entrepreneur’ I thought it was a fancy version of an entree and asked if it included dessert. Granted, I was 7, but still when I was trying to decide between ‘going corporate’ and starting my own business, I decided to research what it would actually mean to do this, especially for younger people. Whether you are a teen, parent or somewhere in between, most people know someone who is trying to ‘take the plunge’ into the world of instability, freedom and becoming incorporated.

When deciding to be an entrepreneur, there are a few things to consider.

What you are giving up: I remember one of the major issues for me was “what is my other option?” I didn’t want to start my own business or take a risk investing in a big website just because I didn’t have anything better to do. I think young entrepreneurs especially have to think about other paths their life can take and if it is worth stopping one path, to go down another.

**Parent Tip- Parents should of course encourage passion in their kids, but also point out the other options. Please be careful to make sure that your teen or kid knows that you are not discouraging them, but just trying to look at all the consequences.

Timing: I had to think to myself whether or not I should go straight into another job? Should I try for grad school? Luckily, it seemed that this time—when I could mooch off the parents and do not have a family to support—would be the perfect time to take a risk and start a business! (thanks mom!)

**Parent Tip- It is great for kids and teens to take the time to start a business, they usually do not have much to lose and as long as they are not quitting school. Let them experiment, it can also be great resume/college essay material!

Support: I needed (and need) tons and tons of support, my parents, my friends (facebook and real), my boyfriend, mentors to keep me going over the past few months. Stop and think who can help you on low days, do you have people to test out your site/products/blog etc? No entrepreneur can do it alone.

**Parent Tip- Tell them you will be there for them no matter what. It means so much to have your parents 100% behind you.

• Energy: Oh my goodness, you would never think that having a home business would be so hard. Making something…anything from scratch takes so much energy. It is especially challenging when you do not know what you are doing, as was the case with me. Sit and think: Do I really have the energy to do this. If you are going to start something, put your all into it so you never have to look back and think “well, if only I had tried harder…”

**Parent Tip- Let them know all of the aspects of starting a business, that there are things that are fun and not so fun, are they ok to do both types of things?

Possibility of Failure: I was telling a teacher about my qualms about being an entrepreneur and he asked me two very important questions: 1) Are you prepared to succeed in your goals? 2) Are you prepared to fail at your goals? Of course the answer to the first question is yes, but to the second…this took some thinking. Don’t ever start a business unless you are fully prepared to deal with the emotional consequences of failing. I decided it would be worth it, if I fail, it will be a learning experience, and a good story later in life.

**Parent Tip- Be sure to point out to your budding entrepreneur that success is great, but failure is a possible consequence and they should not feel that they are a failure as a person if their business idea doesn’t succeed.

Board of Adviser Update:

For those of you who have read my Operation Oprah page, you already know that I have made you, my users my board of advisors. I want you to keep me accountable, honest and on target. So here is my weekly update:
-I am working on getting onto Playboy Radio to do a spot about teaching kids about sex, I think this would be an awesome (and fun) opportunity to reach out to some dad’s who are just starting to have teen girl daughters and are really, really scared.
-I have decided to continue doing Teenline outreach programs, I know it doesn’t pay any money, but I think it is a great opportunity to be around teens, be immersed in their school culture and do something good.
-I really need a Media break! Any ideas? I have been cold calling producers of some smaller morning talk shows and of course, they will not call/email me back. No one is willing to take a chance on my because I haven’t done anything else. I am going to keep trying. Do you think I should film a reel of some sort showing I can be on camera and am ‘TV-ready?’

Well, that’s it for now, stay tuned I will be having some great guest posts coming up in the next few days.
*Pic from Problogger

I also love starting kids early, there are some great entrepreneur books out there.

-Entrepreneur Extraodinaire: Grandpa Helps Emily Build a Business by J. M Seymour

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6 Responses to “What is a Teen Entrepreneur? And How Parents Can Be Supportive”

  1. Phillip Miller
    December 7, 2007 at 9:23 am #

    keep doing the video posts. These could start taking a life of their own and would be a nice place to direct the media to look and see that the risk would be low.

    don’t stop the cold calls, the next one could be the one!

  2. Vanessa
    December 7, 2007 at 12:59 pm #

    ahhh yes cold calls are tough, but every once in a while you get someone who is in a good mood…

    I will be continuing with the videocasts, I will do one later today actually. Someone suggested I try to make them more like a ‘show’ but its in my bedroom..doesnt exactly present as ready-for-tv = )

    My main goal is to try to relax a little on them, i get really nervous and don’t move my hands. I tend to be much more animated (and talk ridiculously fast) in real life


  3. Sara G
    December 7, 2007 at 7:25 pm #

    Hi Vanessa,
    I just came in from Mark’s Daily Apple. I usually figure that by the time I’ve heard about something it’s only a little while before that thing (or person) ends up being pretty famous. My boyfriend always comments on how I have always already heard of everything whenever he thinks he has something new.

    I have to say I was curious and impressed by your “teen author” tag line and reading through all the speaking engagements on your schedule. I think you’re pretty close to that fabled tipping point! Keep up with the guest blogging, that’s a great way to reach a lot of different people. Mostly just enjoy what you’re doing and where you are in the process because once you get there… (some cliche about not being able to go back…)

  4. Maddie B
    December 8, 2007 at 4:39 am #

    If you are interested in entrepreneurship and money issues for kids there is a series of articles at http://www.babyinvestor.com on these topics.

  5. Vanessa Van Petten
    December 9, 2007 at 9:23 pm #

    thank you for that website, great idea! And Sarah, oh boy oh boy I hope you are right, this weekend was a particularly hard weekend in terms of finances…so i could use a big break and your kind words really help!


  1. For Entrepreneurs: A New Brazen Careerist | Radical Parenting - August 25, 2009

    […] What is a Teen Entrepreneur? And How Parents Can Be Supportive Here are a few questions that Vanessa was grappling with when she first started her business and tips for parents who have kids who might want to start a business of their own. […]

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