If there is one significant difference in children of today and those that have gone before, it is the ability to scratch the entrepreneurial itch at an early age. The Internet has brought avenues like YouTube, eBay, and a thousand other boutique sites to the masses. Thus, kids today have the ability to experience the business world at a young age. This access to the “real world” may seem scary to some, but I see it as a great way to teach your child the ups and downs of success at an early age. Even better, you might learn a few things while raising your little entrepreneur.
YouTube = Television
When I was a kid, we would talk about a future where there were hundreds of TV channels to view. This dream was a huge advance over the four channels I had available then. Cable has given us that vision of hundreds of channels, but that is just the beginning of options. YouTube and similar venues, including podcast sites and entertainment Meccas like iTunes and Google Play, have given us a nearly unlimited selection.
I have seen shows that are reviews of niche TV shows, people playing games, people talking about playing games, parents and kids having conversations. There are even shows that consist of people setting things on fire and blowing things up. There are even shows about creating shows. The list is endless. These channels are not provided in a vacuum either. The viewership of these shows ranges from dozens to millions.
Embrace the Opportunity
The Internet provides a whole new world of things to learn. The sheer act of creating a YouTube video or podcast is an incredible learning experience. Your child is full of ideas so nudge them in the direction of creating their show. Explain how shows make money through advertisers. Point out copyrights and licenses. These are concepts that too many people never really understand because it doesn’t get covered in general studies at school. Let your child cut loose with their creative side and see where it leads. They might get some followers and build friendships due to a “silly little show” they put together.
The new media options are not only a chance to try things out, but they are also a way to see the work that goes into such things. It is easy to criticize the things we don’t understand. However, getting a sense of the problems businesses face can help build a healthy respect for them and those that run them. This empathy is a huge factor in being successful. The result is a child that is less likely to underestimate the work that goes into any project.
More Than Entertainment
I have just touched the tip of the iceberg of opportunities. Sites like eBay and Amazon allow children to buy, sell, and trade items. They can learn about creating a good that others want, flipping things. Also, the all-important fact that just because create a product does not mean people will buy it. Better yet, these sites can provide ways to turn hobbies into something more. Along the way, they will get great experience learning how to write, how to sell, and how to be descriptive.
Kids can make real money buying and selling baseball cards, or new /used toys. They can create things like drawings, models, and gadgets and earn more than a weekly allowance. Heck, you might even get them reading business books and success stories at an early age. If all goes well, they might have the equivalent of an MBA before they get to college. How is that for a real payoff?