My first (failed) entrepreneurial venture was a lemonade stand at age six.

Not original, I know. But in my defense, I did add handmade cards to enhance my product mix. Crayon drawings of a favorite character from my dad’s stories, a kangaroo rat named Jeffrey. Oh, and I added sticks of gum, ’cause you know what passerby wouldn’t suddenly realize their desperate need for a stick of Juicy Fruit…

I got my mom to help make the lemonade, added up the costs, made a sign, and dragged a card table out to the sidewalk in front of our house with my pitcher of ice-cold lemonade, plastic cups, my pencil box which I figured could double as a cash box, trash can (for all those plastic cups my many customers would be responsibly tossing away), and a stack of Jeffrey the Kangaroo Rat drawings.

I was in business — ish.

I waited… and waited some more… in the hot summer sun… and worried that all the ice in the lemonade would melt… then worried that I had not considered how I would attract customers on our quiet neighborhood street where most people stayed inside in the AC during those hot hot summer days…

Sigh. I sold a few cups of lemonade to obliging neighbors. Drank a fair amount myself. And learned a lot.

My ‘business venture’ failed right out of the gate. But did I learn from my failure? Yes. It was a massive success on that count. The skills I learned in those few days of planning, drawing cards, and sitting in the hot sun taught me volumes.

My six-year-old self immediately saw the gap in my marketing strategy while I sat in the blazing sun. I analyzed the issue and what I could do to course correct. Not much as it turned out.

I thought about my product mix, market demand, foot traffic in front of our house, pricing and profit margin, and effort (I’d optimistically drawn a fair number of cards). I looked in my cash box at the few dollars I gained. Felt disappointed. But… I also felt excited because even though this business failed, it sparked something in me. I could see the potential.

What are entrepreneurial skills?

Entrepreneurial skills are a superhero toolkit for kids, equipping them with the qualities they need to thrive in real-life situations. Here’s how these skills can be a game-changer for your kid as they grow:

  • Creative thinking helps kids find innovative solutions that they can apply to real-life situations in and outside of business.
  • Learning to evaluate risk helps kids understand when it’s worth taking a chance on something and when the stakes are too high.
  • Learning to use available resources is a life skill kids can apply to anything.
  • Budgeting and managing money helps kids learn financial responsibility.
  • Planning and project management help kids learn to set goals, stay organized, and focus their ideas.
  • Learning from mistakes helps kids build resilience and have a lifelong learner and growth mindset.
  • Leadership skills that kids need to go from idea to business launch include communication, confidence, and life skills that they can apply to anything they do.

Why are these skills important for kids?

Learning these skills through entrepreneurship means kids are taking agency over their learning. They are learning to adapt and face challenges that they can apply to any situation in life whether it’s learning a new skill, facing the job market, changing careers, or connecting with and understanding people from different cultures or walks of life.

The entrepreneurial skills your kid develops even from starting a simple business can build a foundation for creative and critical thinking, problem-solving, persistence — and grit.

There are several organizations like Lemonade Day, VentureLab, and Kidpreneurs dedicated to helping kids learn entrepreneurship at an early age that make it easy to get started.

Core Entrepreneurial Skills and Benefits

Like my six-year-old self, your kid will learn key practical business skills with each attempt. Whether their first effort succeeds or fails isn’t the point. The point is the learning that comes from the process.

By coming up with a business idea your kid will find a focus and vision. Thinking up a business name and tagline will help them identify their business focus and what makes it stand out. They will set goals and have to work toward their goals.

They will need to develop the product or service from their original idea. If it’s a product, like lemonade or cookies, they’ll need to figure out how to make the product and if they have, or can learn, the skills to make it themselves.

If it’s a service, like dog walking or lawn mowing or tutoring, your kid will need to define the skills and equipment they’ll need, like being good with dogs or having a lawn mower or a computer.

They will put their math skills to work. What better way to apply (and see the value in) math than in real-world problem-solving?

Your kid will need to consider the cost of the product, development, and business setup (even in something as simple as a lemonade stand or service like lawn mowing or dog walking). They’ll need to think about the value of their time, handling payments, and profit margin.

To go from initial idea to launch, your kid will learn project management skills. They may need to make lists — of the steps they’ll need to take to reach their goals and launch their business — and stay organized. If they struggle with the steps or the order of the steps, this is great, as teachable moments go. They will reflect on what’s not working, revise, and try again.

They will likely use communication skills (written and verbal) and networking to tell others about their business, pitch it to potential customers, and build relationships.

Learning from real-world challenges

The initial idea for any business is sparked by a real-life problem, desire, or need. Kid businesses are no different.

By planning and launching my lemonade stand, I had to examine real-world concerns:

  • the need (failed on this because even though tons of people love lemonade, they don’t have a desperate need to take walks around the block in the midday sun and consequently develop a thirst that only lemonade can quench)
  • the product development (did that reasonably well since the lemonade tasted good)
  • customer acquisition/marketing (also failed on that count since there was next to no foot traffic, again due to heat)
  • finances (I worked out the cost for a pitcher of lemonade and plastic cups and figured out how much I would make assuming I sold a pitcher’s worth)

Developmental skills benefits

Facing real-world challenges and taking ownership of their business helps kids learn developmental skills, even if … and sometimes because… it might fail.

My six-year-old self was learning independently when I decided to launch my lemonade stand. I was invested in my plans and determined to figure it out myself. When I got stuck, I asked for help. My parents were obliging but didn’t step in to do it for me. They only helped when I asked.

Your kid will be problem-solving on a practical level at every step.

Had I been older, I might have changed course from the lemonade stand to ask myself what our neighbors did need on hot summer afternoons — probably lawn care, or dog walking. A high school version of myself might have decided to start a tutoring service.

By ‘failing’ I learned to reflect and revise. The experience made me see more clearly than a class or a book could’ve explained that I needed to address each fundamental aspect of my business idea and find a solution that solved a problem for my customer. Granted, I couldn’t articulate that as a six-year-old, but I understood the concept.

I also had the thrill of launching something. The fear of putting my idea out in public, the fear of rejection, the realization it wasn’t working, and the more significant realization that it was okay. Nothing bad happened. I was still me. I still liked my Jeffrey the Kangaroo Rat drawings even if they weren’t a hit with the less than five people who saw them.

I was a more aware six-year-old because of the experience. It felt empowering because I’d put the whole thing together — myself.

How you can teach your kid entrepreneurship

Summer is an ideal time to help your kid start a mini business. Suggest it as a thirty-day business challenge to help inspire them.

The more your kid puts in and follows their vision, not someone else’s (like a parent’s) the more your kid will gain from the process.

Help them start by brainstorming.

When they find something that fits both their interests and skills and a customer desire or need, keep the idea on the list.

Encourage your kid to make their business dream as realistic as possible — meaning something they can actually do with minimal help.

Here’s a basic list of the steps to launching a business:

  • Product or service: What problem does it solve or need does it fill (it can be a need to look cool or fashionable too, like a friendship bracelet)
  • Business name and logo and tagline
  • Product development: How will the product get made or service be delivered
  • Marketing — how will customers know about your business
  • Money — what is the cost and what will your profit be? How will you get paid?
  • Timeline — how long to launch?

There are tons of small business ideas that kids, even fairly young kids, can develop.

They can be services: pet support, lawn care, babysitting, tutoring, cleaning, errands, reading aloud, gardening, or community clean up.

They can be products: friendship bracelets, hair or fashion accessories, jewelry, art, garden décor…

You can inspire your kids by checking out the websites above or even SharkTank Tales for young entrepreneurs!


Helping your kid bring their vision to life and learn to take initiative teaches them a vast set of practical and life skills that will help them with any venture they do later. It will help them engage and take agency over their learning and vision. It will help them build confidence to dream and take action.

It might take a lot of effort. It might fail, or be funny, or succeed, or be frustrating, and exciting and daunting. But it will help your kid grow and believe in themselves.