We donate profits to help find a cure for motor neurone disease
emonade stands, household chores and burger flipping at McDonalds used to be the only ways kids and teens could earn a buck.
But a new generation of tech-savvy schoolchildren are creating mini empires from the comfort of their bedrooms.
Offering a platform for businesses ranging from delivery services to fashion and beauty brands, the internet has opened up a whole new revenue stream for youths and more and more are now juggling online businesses with homework and after-school sport.
A recent report by accounting software company Xero found 90 per cent of primary and high school-aged kids wanted to be their own boss when they grew up.
The statistic reflects the awareness that young people have of the rapidly changing job market, according to Lacey Filipich, director of Money School.
“I think there’s a tendency towards the ‘gig economy’,” she says, referring to the growing trend where companies hire independent contractors as opposed to full-time employees.
“Kids know they’re going to have to act like entrepreneurs from the get-go and are not going to have an internship somewhere for five years and then that same job; they understand they’re going to have to chase their own work.”
Isabella Dymalovski is one of the thousands of teens juggling a business and homework. When she’s not studying for exams, the 15year-old is developing products and working on growing her Luv Ur Skin beauty empire, which she founded in 2014. The brand is now stocked at Priceline and has a global fan club thanks to its online store.
Isabella says running a business throughout her early teens has been tough but the rewards have made it worthwhile.
“It has led to some pretty crazy and fun Nathan Woodrow of Ryde Clothing. experiences,” she says. “I can officially say that I’ve missed a day of school to sponsor a fashion show in Sydney and that at the end of the year I was able to do my English exam and quickly run off afterwards to speak at an event with Cricket Victoria.”
Sydney teen Juliette Jones is another driven teen business owner who has taken the idea of traditional roadside lemonade stands into the digital age.
The 15-year-old launched CSJ leMoNaiD, a company that sells bottled lemonade online, at the age of 11 after the death of her grandfather from motor neurone disease. She has since raised thousands of dollars for MND research from drink sales.
“My company donates 100 per cent of the profits to Macquarie University for research, to help find a cure for MND,” Juliette says.
The Kogarah resident hopes to expand her business into a franchise model and encourage other children to onsell the lemonade.
Mum Claudia Frasca-Jones says the time and energy involved in helping to build the business was difficult but says both she and Juliette have learned so much from the experience.
“It is a fantastic opportunity for them to learn by doing and to feel empowered, which in my book is always a good thing,” she says. “Kids also see things from a completely different perspective and I’ve learned so much about myself from helping Juliette in her pursuit.”
When it comes to selling platforms, Etsy has become one of the biggest launch pads for the budding business kid. The online marketplace — which predominantly features handmade arts and crafts, knick-knacks and vintage items — has become a popular option for youngsters wanting to turn their creative hobbies into an income stream.
“I work with one kid-preneur who makes lip balms, and lip balms are really small, so it makes them very cheap to post and she can pass on the cost of postage to clients because Etsy is set up that way,” says Lacey Filipich. “She now has clients all over Australia, so there’s a much bigger reach than if she was just selling at a local market, for example.”
Affirmation cards, potted succulents and handmade jewellery are some of the popular options for kids to sell through the platform, which now has 54 million members.
One Acorn founder Jarrad Dober runs holiday workshops teaching children how to become entrepreneurs. He believes schools should be better equipping kids with business skills to prepare them for the changing career environment.
“Schools are great at preparing kids for being employees,” he explains. “They go to school in the morning, have a lunch break, and clock off in the afternoon, but they’re not learning the skills they need to be job creators. It needs to become part of the curriculum.”
While the internet has made launching a legitimate business much easier for kids and teens, actually running them and making a profit can be extremely tough. And while fewer parents now have to spend every Sunday accompanying their child to the local craft market, supporting your budding entrepreneur child has its challenges.
It’s not easy watching them miss out on fun pastimes in order to update websites or arrange postage or make zero sales.
“It’s really hard as a parent to let your child fail,” Filipich says.
“But that’s why its so important not to create a whole business and massive amount of product unless you’ve got market confirmation that people will want to buy it, and not just