How kids can help your business

Year 5 enterprise school project

My youngest is 10 years old and spent the last term of year 5 at school doing an enterprise topic - learning to start their own little businesses with a £5 investment per group (they made a whopping £17 despite some massive restrictions and challenges).

Horrifying my daughter

As part of the topic, the school asked if any parents with their own businesses could go in and talk to the class about their experiences and answer questions, so I volunteered (much to my daughter’s horror).

Her class teacher, Mr Bradbeer, asked me to email a few slides in and then told the kids what I do and asked them to put forward some questions beforehand, and then we’d take it from there. He asked me to focus on my Qalbi business (Arabic & Islamic art).

How talking to 32 ten-year-old kids helped my business

The whole experience was wonderful and surprisingly beneficial to me too, and left me feeling that we could all use the questions and input a group of kids sometimes to help us with our businesses from time to time.

The questions the kids submitted in advance were a really helpful exercise. On the face of it they were very basic (and nosey!) but to answer them I had to strip away all the complexity to be able to say in the simplest possible way:

  • what I do to people who know nothing about my market or target audience

  • my business results, numbers and trends

  • my goals

  • my favourite things

  • my most profitable products.

In the course of coaching clients and meeting people at business networking events I see a LOT of people who struggle to say what they do quickly and concisely, let alone know the basics of their business. When was the last time you even went back to basics and thought about those things, let alone tried to vocalise and sum them up so simply?

Tapping into young creative minds and ideas

As part of the hour I was asked dozens of other questions - kids really are amazing. In response to one about where I get my ideas, I’d told them that the best thing about being a small business is that, unlike a big company like Tesco, if a customer talks to you, they’re talking to the boss and the person who makes things happen, so it’s a brilliant way to get feedback and ideas. I asked them what suggestions they’d have for me and they were so creative - and I’m now acting on one of them at the moment!

Inherent entrepreneurial skills in kids

A few of the kids in the class really stood out as having entrepreneurial tendencies already - I could see their minds whirring and it was just wonderful. Our education system and schools get a lot of flack but I could only see the positive in this project and hope these kids get the opportunities to use their inherent skills, ideas and passion to become the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The other thought I was left with was how proud I was of my daughter - I was determined not to embarrass her (she reassured me that evening that I hadn’t), but she volunteered information about my business and talked about how she helps me out sometimes too. I love that she sees there are more opportunities for her future than just employment and that even at such a young age, she understands how running a business works to an extent.

What could you do? (School holiday idea!)

With the start of the school holidays, this might be the perfect time to tap into their skills and ideas and to work out how you might be able nurture their talents and passions at the same time...

Now obviously I’m not promoting child labour here, but how could you involve your children in your business to help both you and them? I’d love to hear how you do it, or your ideas for how you could. Please comment below to let me know.

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