Ambitious parents play Mozart for their babies in utero and start competing for spots in prestigious pre-schools before their kids are out of diapers, so how young is too young to start grooming the next generation of young entrepreneurs? According to the authors of a new book for pre-teen magnates-in-the-making, "It's never too early."
Entrepreneurship is red hot, and plenty of enterprising folks are lining up to give advice to their peers. Budding Zuckerbergs can go online to get guidance at Under30CEO, Brazen Careerist, Mixergy, or many other sites catering to up-and-coming twentysomethings. If you're looking to make a million before you hit the big 2-0, hang out with the gang at Teen Business Forum. But for the truly precocious looking to make a six-figure exit from that lemonade stand franchise, there's Kidpreneurs.org and Kidpreneur$ the book.
Kidpreneur$ is a project of Arizona-based brothers Adam and Matthew Toren, proprietors of the successful YoungEntrepreneur.com, one of the best sites for serious young commercial and social entrepreneurs. Kidpreneurs is an earnest attempt to bring business ideas to a very young audience and give them a taste of the skills, values and habits that will make them successful if they pursue the entrepreneurial path.
Both the book and the Web site are well-designed, colorfully illustrated, and punctuated with games, quizzes, and activities. The content is very thorough and complete, covering just about everything that a kid would need or want to know, from finding customers to turning a profit, to writing a mission statement, to marketing on the Internet. As an adult who sometimes struggles to explain this stuff to other adults, I take my hat off to the Toren brothers for laying it out in such an accessible, easy-to-follow way.
The richness of the Kidpreneur$ content is a blessing and a curse. The tone and style of the writing and the graphic design appear directed toward a kid as young as 8 or 9. However, because the book itself runs only 50 pages and covers so much ground, the pages are packed with text in a much, much smaller font than you'd see in a traditional children's book. I'm not a parent, but I suspect that a kid that young would have to be exceptionally sharp and motivated to digest such a densely-packed volume.
Maybe that's the idea: if you don't have the patience to make it through the workbook, you might want to re-think that babysitting start-up. Running is a business is tough and there are lots of details. Kidpreneur$ does justice to the complexity, and that's fine. Entrepreneurship isn't for everyone. That's as good a lesson to learn at an early age as any.
But these are small quibbles. As someone who just wrote a book suggesting that young entrepreneurs can literally save the world, I'm the wrong person to criticize anyone else's idealism about the subject. And with the job market being what it is, raising a generation of young people who not only have the skills to chart their own course in the business world, but also give employment to their less-motivated peers (and perhaps their parents), is nothing but good.