Does your young entrepreneur want to give their money away?
This is a common reaction when a child makes more money than they need for whatever motivated them to earn extra money in the first place; a toy, a trip or simply the freedom of extra pocket money not doled out by mom or dad. Once they get beyond that magic amount they carried in their mind, they feel like millionaires.
When I ask the question in my classes, “what will you do with the profits?” I hear a list of options that usually involve anything from saving it to blowing it all on candy. Some of them are thinking bigger and have come around to the idea of reinvesting in their business. But charity always tops the list for the surplus – church, animal rescue, homelessness, children’s hospitals and third world aid are the big ones.
Children are giving by nature and young entrepreneurs have this new superpower: money.
It isn’t a huge leap for young entrepreneurs to see social enterprise as simply a logical way to do business. Why wouldn’t you want your business to do good in the world?
I really like the way Amyann Cadwell explains it in her The Good Trade article, “What is A Social Enterprise?“. Although we tend to associate giving money with charities and non-profits (or no profits), social enterprise is often highly profitable and relies on those profits for the success of their purpose,
A successful social enterprise is one that balances the tension between upholding the social mission of their organization and maximizing the productivity of their business venture to ensure sustainability.
Should we encourage it in children that simply started a business to make some extra money?
I take the time to explain the difference but not until after they have created a business and we’re talking about profits, long after the inception stage when social enterprise is born.
I show them social enterprise companies I support such as Sock Rocket, Lucky Iron Fish, Ocean Clean Up, or my podcast guest The Soda Kid. However, I equally highlight that giving back to their own community through donations is a great option. Just like any other entrepreneur, I ask them to think about what makes sense for their business.
It’s important to educate without guiding them down one path or another. If they weren’t navigating towards social enterprise with their original business idea then donating to a favorite charity, were they inclined to do so, is perfect for them. Because let’s face it, Social enterprise is not typically on the minds of children.
And then there’s Noah. Noah completed my How to Start Your Own Business course and came up with not one, but TWO social enterprise based businesses:
- Book Buddies using what Cadwell calls “The Innovation Model”, Noah provides a service to address a social need. He fills a much needed gap in the aging community dealing with isolation by reading books aloud and spending time with them as a result. And then on the side he started,
- Super Bread! Giving back to his own community, Noah raises money selling his bread and uses a portion of the profits to host basketball tournaments for local children his age. His dad tells me, “he fills a need in his community and creates an opportunity to make friends at the same time”.
Social enterprise surfaces because it’s just the kind of entrepreneurial thinking that a child has naturally – born from their passion for a better world.