A few months back, I heard about this young entrepreneur in Detroit by the name of Asia Newson. I was (and still am) in awe by this little girl. She’s creating, making, marketing and selling her own product at the age of 11. I couldn’t wait to share her story with my own girls. I thought they would intrigued by how someone as young as her had her own business. But when I told them about her, they didn’t seem to be as inspired by it as I was.
Particularly my 12 year-old, when I asked her what she thought about it, she gave me her usual tween response: “eh.” This, by the way, immediately sent me into mommy tirade mode. How could she not be remotely interested in this story? AND why doesn’t she think she’s able to do the same thing? She can copy the less than stellar antics of a video from YouTube or Vine, but not run a business of her own?
In addition to me ranting, I started to blame her generation. They aren’t interested in working their way up, they want instant success. A three minute video can make you a celebrity in this day and age. Why should she ever have to apply herself to a career? Then, I began panicking trying to figure out how to ignite some passion within her. She has many likes, but she doesn’t have that one thing that gets her out of bed every morning. And, I know, she’s 12. Her iPhone is her only concern at this age. But I want her to know she’s capable of so much more than 15 minutes of fame.
As much as I talk to her about working hard, I’m pretty sure it’s not resonating. She doesn’t remember that I told her to wash the dishes five minutes ago. She’s a hands on kind of girl, like me. If I was going to teach her anything about entrepreneurship, it had to be tangible. So, when my husband connected me to Jonathan of JR Games and Entertainment and his new board game, I thought it would be a good opportunity for her to see (and feel) what it’s like to be self-employed.
Tail-E-Wags, the Game for Budding Entrepreneurs is the name of his first project. And this past Saturday, we were invited to a Demo Day for kids to come and check it out. The game revolves around a dog walking business and you - as the owner. You begin with one dog and $10 and it takes you through the process of growing your business including advertising, adding services and even hiring more employees.
The best part about it for me, as a parent, is that it also involves applying math, strategic thinking and business planning skills. The game is geared for ages 8-12, but my six year-old had a chance to partake and she really enjoyed it. While playing, she asked Jonathan where he got the idea from. He explained to her that as a child, he was told to go to school and get a job. He wasn’t taught that he could own his own business and have people work for him. This was his way to show kids, they can be their own boss if they wanted to. She thought that was a great idea.
And the tween? What did she think? I haven’t seen her this enthusiastic about something, other than boys or a television show, in a while. She was completely taken with this game. I promise, I’m not just saying that either. She even asked if we could buy it. I thought I was going to have a difficult time persuading her to play it and it turned out she wanted to bring the game home for herself. I was bummed I couldn’t buy one right away, but when it hits shelves, I will be purchasing it for sure.
I was so happy that something sparked inside of her from playing that game. It was more than just an opportunity to play, it was a learning experience. She said it definitely got her thinking that running her own business wasn’t as hard as she thought. It gave her a different perspective, because owning your own business doesn't mean she has to be a CEO. She, even as a 12 year-old girl, can offer to do an every day task for someone for a fee, who tells another someone and so on thus creating her own small business. Afterwards, when I got home and told my husband how it went, he was equally as surprised at how receptive she was (I even had to show him photo evidence).
Now, I’m not sure if she’ll run right out and start walking the neighbors’ dogs, although, it would be super awesome if she did. However, because of Tail-E-Wags, she at least has an idea of what it would take for her to start if she ever decided to do so.
And that’s all I could ask for at this point.
Did you, as a kid, have your own business? Do your children have their own budding business?