The Top 5 Topics to Review Before Launching

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With resources including:

 

  • Young Entrepreneur Strengths Finder Quiz

  • Product Brainstorm Outline

  • Budget Structure

  • Free Logo Generator Instructions

  • Pitch Practice Tips & Template

 

Quick answers to our most frequently asked questions

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People

Should I find a co-founder for my business?


Deciding whether to bring on a co-founder for your business can be a difficult decision. Here are some main reasons why you might want to see a co-founder join:

  • Complementary skills: if you’re great at math and can manage the budget like a pro, but have a terrible time speaking up and making a sale (or vice versa), a co-founder might be the ticket. The key to a great co-founder is to find someone that you work well with and can round out your own skills.
  • Sharing the workload: Four hands are better than two. If you’re having trouble staying on top of all that needs to be done, a co-founder can be a great source of help.
  • Encouragement + fun: Starting a business can be tough. Having someone to celebrate with in the good times, and help keep spirits up in the tough times can be a real gift.
Despite all of these positives, don’t jump into the decision. An extra person also brings extra opinions and potential disagreements. Think carefully before you make a big commitment to a co-founder.




How can I become a successful entrepreneur?


Practice, practice, practice! No one would look at a professional athlete and expect him/her to have simply become amazing by luck one day. We all know for a fact that professional athletes put in thousands of hours over many years in order to develop the skills that they need to compete in the most competitive of environments. Entrepreneurship is no different. Start small (think: little league). Choose a product that you can make and sell relatively easily. (Start by reading: What are the best business ideas for kids?). You will learn so much from the experience of moving all the way to LAUNCH and selling your product! The next time you launch your business (either the same product or a new one), you can add and grow - trying things that are slightly harder each time. How can you improve your product? How can you better serve your customers? What new skill do you need to learn to take your business to the next level? Jump in today, and you’ll see yourself grow into a successful entrepreneur over time!




Do you need to be outgoing to be an entrepreneur?


Entrepreneurs come in all types - you definitely don’t need to be outgoing to be a successful entrepreneur. Every business eventually needs more than one person to run it. As you add to your team, you can focus on skills that don’t come as easily to you. That said, there *are* a few skills that can be found in just about every successful entrepreneur. These skills can be developed and improved over time with practice and hard work. Learn more in our article: What are the top 3 qualities of a successful kid entrepreneur?




Who should be my first hire in my business?


A good place to start when you are thinking about adding to your business team, is by identifying the areas of your business where you are the weakest, and thus need the most help. You can figure out what those areas are by making a list of all the jobs you are currently doing in your business (add the ones that you *should* be doing but don’t have enough time or knowledge to complete!). Highlight the tasks that you enjoy doing and are really good at. Now it’s time to look at the pattern in the remaining tasks to see what type of skills you need in a new teammate. We recommend also downloading our FREE Entrepreneur Workbook which contains an assessment to find your best fit role as an entrepreneur.





Product

How do I come up with a name for my business?


One option to come up with a name for your business is to pay tens of thousands of dollars to a professional naming and branding agency (yes, that’s a common thing to do). Don’t have that kind of cash? Let’s get creative instead! The best place to start when coming up with a name is to take out a blank piece of paper and write down EVERY and ANY word that comes to mind to describe your product or business. Don’t hold back, just write down as many words as you can. Once you’ve exhausted every option, take a step back and carefully read through the words. Is there one that jumps out? Can two or more of the words be combined to create a clever name? We have seen some awesome names get started this way!




I have a million product ideas, how do I narrow them down?


This is a tough one. People under 18 cannot form legal business entities, so their parents would need to do so on their behalf. It would be unrealistic to expect every kid running a lemonade stand to go through the expensive and time-consuming process of registering it as a real business, but technically the IRS would say that any activity seeking to make a profit needs to be registered. Once your business has grown to the point of generating significant and consistent revenue, it *is* time to register. HERE is a good article on how to do so. But, if you are still in those early stages of launching a business, here are a couple of things to know:

  • Several states have already passed, or are working on passing, “lemonade stand laws” to prevent police from being able to shut down kid-run businesses, even if said businesses don’t have *all* of the required permits in place.
  • There is a fine line between a business and a hobby - hobbies do not need to be registered. If your hobby turns a profit in 3 of 5 years, though, it is time to register it as an official business.




Do I need a license to sell food?


If you will be selling food in a public place, especially an environment like a festival or farmer’s market, you will need a license to sell food. The procedure and expenses vary from state to state, but a food license will generally run between $100-$300 per year. Before you can obtain a food license, you will also need a business license. If you are a young entrepreneur testing out an idea in the food space and wanting to sell product in a public environment, we suggest trying to partner with an existing licensed business. If you are hoping to sell food on a smaller scale (e.g., at a stand in your neighborhood), you will be protected in some states by the Lemonade Stand Law, which prevents the police from shutting down kid-run businesses.




What is the best way to make and sell t-shirts?


T-shirts (like other types of clothing) can be a challenging business to launch simply because in order to keep your costs low you need to order a LOT of shirts (think 100+). For example, most companies will not even print batches of less than 36 shirts. At this volume, each shirt can cost $10 or more - that’s $360 just to get started. Once you get up to printing 100+, the cost of each shirt can fall to about $5 (depending on design, quality of fabric, etc), but that’s still a $500 investment. You’ll need to commit to a huge batch of shirts (and a large initial investment) in order to turn a good profit on each shirt. This is a big risk if you aren’t yet sure whether your sales will knock it out of the park. Remember that most people own a LOT of (usually free) t-shirts, so your design would have to be something really special for them to be willing to buy. An interesting way to test a t-shirt design without a big investment upfront is spreadshirt.com. You can submit a design which will be sold via their site - they print the shirt each time an order is received and handle the shipping, etc. As the designer you would receive a small cut of the total price, but it’s a great start and almost no money invested up front!




What is the best way to self-publish a book?


There are several sites that can be used to self-publish a book. Two that we really like are blurb.com and bookbaby.com. Both of these allow you to distribute your book through sites such as Amazon, or simply print the books and sell them on your own.




Should I launch an app as my business?


Many of our students have ideas for cool new apps. The challenge with the app business is that apps are extremely expensive to develop well (think, $10,000+ for professional development of a pretty basic app), and it’s hard to actually make money in the app store. Fun fact - only about 1% of apps are financially succesful - that’s pretty low! Except for rare circumstances where a student has strong development skills on his/her own and a really exceptional idea that he/she can sell directly within his/her own community, we don’t recommend apps as a business idea for kids.




Should I launch a YouTube Channel as my business?


Launching a YouTube channel can be a fun thing to do as a solo project or with friends. If your parents are aware of the videos that you are producing and sharing, and are comfortable with them being made available publicly, there is no harm in launching a YouTube channel. That said, we suggest that you think of your channel either as a hobby or as a marketing tool for your business. Very few YouTube creators make any money from their videos alone - you need at least 1000 subscribers and over 4000 watch hours to even qualify to be paid anything by YouTube. Once you achieve that, you’ll need about 10,000 views on your video to make $100. That’s a lot of work for the same money you could probably make in a few hours by selling lemonade!




What do I need to register my business?


This is a tough one. People under 18 cannot form legal business entities, so their parents would need to do so on their behalf. It would be unrealistic to expect every kid running a lemonade stand to go through the expensive and time-consuming process of registering it as a real business, but technically the IRS would say that any activity seeking to make a profit needs to be registered. Once your business has grown to the point of generating significant and consistent revenue, it *is* time to register. HERE is a good article on how to do so. But, if you are still in those early stages of launching a business, here are a couple of things to know: Several states have already passed, or are working on passing, “lemonade stand laws” to prevent police from being able to shut down kid-run businesses, even if said businesses don’t have *all* of the required permits in place. There is a fine line between a business and a hobby - hobbies do not need to be registered. If your hobby turns a profit in 3 of 5 years, though, it is time to register it as an official business.





Profit

What is a business budget?


A business budget is an entrepreneur’s estimate of the revenue, costs, and profit that their business will have over a certain time period (usually a year, but it’s great to make a budget even for an individual event such as selling at your school picnic). For more information on how to make a great budget, we suggest checking out our article "How do I make sure my business is profitable, and what should I do with the profit?" and downloading our FREE Entrepreneur Workbook which contains a budget template for you to fill out.




How should I decide on a price for my product?


Setting a price for your product can be a tough thing to do.

  • Do some research into 5-10 products similar to yours and what their prices are. Is your product higher/lower quality, larger or smaller? Where might your price fall in the spectrum?
  • Take note of things that might help you raise your price, or cause you to lower it. If you are selling something in a place that offers a lot of convenience for customers (think: popcorn at the movie theater), you’ll be able to charge a higher price. However, if your product will be sold right next to many similar items, it will be harder to raise your price.
  • Some entrepreneurs make the mistake of simply calculating the cost to make their product and then doubling or tripling it to find the price. Remember that your customers don’t care about what the cost was to make - they care about the VALUE that your product provides. Your price should reflect that value, not just the cost of materials.
  • Keep in mind that prices can change! Just because you set a certain price the first time you sell, it doesn’t mean you can’t raise or lower it going forward. Get out there with your best estimate of what your price should be, and go from there!




What is the easiest way to accept non-cash payment?


We recommend that EVERY kid entrepreneur find a way to accept at least one type of non-cash payment. Very few people carry cash these days, and you’ll really be limiting your sales if cash is your only option. Here are the top 2 ways to accept non-cash payment:

  • Credit card: You can purchase very inexpensive Square readers that will have you swiping cards within minutes! You’ll simply need to create a Square account and link your bank account to receive your money. Although accepting credit cards comes with a cost, it’s very low (only about 3% of sales, or 3 cents for every $1 sold). Covering the cost of credit card fees is a great investment for your business - customers will appreciate the convenience, and you will sell more!
  • Venmo/PayPal: Some of our kid entrepreneurs simply post a sign on their table that shares their Venmo and/or PayPal account. Customers can simply send the funds on the spot. Once the entrepreneur sees them come through, they hand over the product.




Should I donate some of my profit?


Yes! We love to see our kid entrepreneurs use their business as a force for good in the world. Here are our top tips for donating out of your profit:

  • Choose an organization that you have a real connection to. Either because it’s one that you volunteer with or have benefited from, or because it’s right in line with your product. For example, if you are selling homemade dog treats, it would be an easy choice to donate some of the profit to your local animal shelter.
  • Choose a set amount to donate (we recommend a % of profit, and usually have our kid entrepreneurs donate 10% of their profit). You need to be really clear about what is being donated vs. being kept by the business.
  • Communicate to your customers how much of their purchase is being donated and to whom. Customers love to see businesses give back, and will be more inclined to buy if they know their purchase is also doing good.





Promotion

Do I need a website for my business?


Eventually, yes, we believe that all businesses should have a website. But should a lack of website stop you from setting up shop at your school picnic to test sales of your newest product? Absolutely not! We suggest that if your product is a tangible item (like dog treats, books, candles, etc) you go ahead and start selling before tackling a big project like building a website. Make sure that the product is selling well and that you want to stick with the business before you feel pressure to have a website up and running.




What is the best way to create a business website quickly + cheaply?


Once you are ready to build a site, there are many options out there to help get a site up quickly (some of these include wix.com, weebly.com and squarespace.com). We are not sponsored or in partnership with Wix, but we recommend them as the best place to start. Their templates are the easiest to navigate and look great, plus you can publish your site (with limited options) without paying a cent.




What are target customers?


Target customers are the people who would be MOST EXCITED about buying your product. So, if your product is homemade dog treats sold at the local dog park, your target customers will be dog owners who live in your neighborhood. Does that mean that a loyal cat lover CAN NOT or WILL NOT buy your product? Of course not! She may want a bag as a gift for her neighbor’s dog, and that’s great. It’s still important to understand your target customers the very best, so that you can tailor your product, packaging, and promotional activities to make them as excited about your product as possible.




Do I need to use social media to promote my business?


Although social media has certainly become a popular tool for businesses to promote their products, there is no hard rule that says you *need* to use social media to promote your business. In particular, if your family rules prevent you from having a social media account because of your age, respect those rules and get creative to promote your business in other ways! Sometimes parents feel more comfortable using a shared social media account and are open to being involved in promoting your business on social media. That can be a fun project to work on together if that’s the case.




How can I make sure a lot of people know about my business?


Get creative and think about your target customers! You don’t need to spend a lot of money promoting your business, in fact the cheaper and more creative ideas tend to work better anyway. What are some fun and unique ways that you could draw attention to your business? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Hand out flyers with a 10% discount if they bring it to the business
  • Film a hilarious video that your parents share on Facebook
  • Wear a costume and dance around to point people to your business
  • Pass out small free samples in a crowded place
  • Create a jingle or catchy slogan
  • Convince 20 people to post about your business on Facebook





Pitch

What is a pitch?


A pitch is a short but powerful introduction to your business, that makes people get excited to jump in!




Why would I pitch my business?


There are many different reasons you might be pitching your business. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Investment funds: pitch to potential investors to help your business get started
  • Sales: you’ll be making a LOT of sales pitches!
  • Teammates: you may need to pitch to potential employees or partners
  • Mentorship: make a great pitch and someone really smart might just be willing to help you out.





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