I have three little kids. There’s Holden, 10, Ri, 5, and Zoey, 3. Every day, I do my best to teach my kids how to think and act like entrepreneurs. I want them to always think on how to start a business for kids with no money.

When they want something, I ask them to come up with ways they can get it without my assistance. When my kids ask for a toy, I always ask them what are a few ways you can earn money yourself. 

My oldest, Holden, wanted a new video game about a year ago. I told him he would need to come up with ways to pay for it. I asked what skills he had, and how he could turn that into money. Holden enjoyed making little rubber band bracelets, so I asked him how he could turn that into a business.

Holden immediately rose to the challenge. He said he could make a bunch of the bracelets, and then sell them at school. I begin to ask several questions to get him thinking, such as:

What do the bands cost?

How long does it take to make them?

I remember Holden saying, “Dad, How do I start a business with no money?”

Holden needed money to buy more rubber bands. He only had a few left. I told Holden I would be his own, private money lender. I would give him $10.00, and he could pay me back with interest in one week with his sales.

Holden agreed to my lending terms, so my wife went to the store and bought the supplies needed.

The next couple of days were amazing. Holden went to school and sold several of the bracelets for a couple of dollars apiece. He returned home excited as he showed me the zip lock bag where he had collected several one dollar bills. I’ll admit that I was kind of shocked. Since when did third graders carry money to school?!

I started to talk to Holden about the experience, and what he learned. It was obvious that he was shocked at the fact he had even this level of success. That said, he was a little short of his money goal. And Holden had another concern – that he didn’t have many more kids to sell them to.

I gave him some advice on other ways to sell his bracelets.  

The next day, my wife caught him on the way back from school going door-to-door selling his bracelets. My wife quickly put a halt to that – she wasn’t comfortable with him going door-to-door.

I was shocked. The night before I gave him several ideas. There wasn’t a moment where I thought he would go door-to-door, selling his bracelets! I really did admire his guts and willingness to do what it took to make his business successful.

Selling door-to-door isn’t easy, but some of the most valuable business lessons he learned were taught to by selling door-to-door.

Later that night, we pulled out the zip lock bag, and started counting the money. Holden was disappointed. He was still short on funds. I told him that we couldn’t stop now, on this note. Then advised him to pick up the phone and start calling family members.

My advisement?

“Tell them you have a two bracelet for the price of one special, and you’ll include free shipping. I told them you would be sending a PayPal invoice to their emails.”

Holden picked up the phone and started dialing for dollars. With a couple of calls, he hit his goal. He paid me back.

He went to his room, made the bracelets, and sent them in the mail.

Holden’s first business idea was a success. He was a kid with a dream and goal. It wasn’t about me giving him money to buy the video game. The lesson was how to take a skill, and turn it into a business that generates profit and pays for the things you want. It was what Holden learned through this that will stick with him for life.

Now that you know how to start a business for kids with no money, sit down with your kids and talk about their interests. The best ideas come from young minds!