Q&A: Giving kids a head start on the road to entrepreneurship

This week we talk to Claire Wheeler who is on a mission to give young kids the skills to set up their own businesses. While setting up her ‘side gig’ The Little Cardboard Co during the pandemic Claire witnessed the excitement of her own kids who urged her to help them them set up their own ‘kid’ businesses. This was the spark that led to Claire launching Kid Biz Academy.

ISB: Please tell us a little bit about your career prior to founding Kid Biz Academy.

CW: After studying tourism and business at uni, I have spent the last two decades working in sales and marketing with some of large brands such as LG, Dyson, Revlon, Red Bull and KitchenAid.

During the pandemic, while working as sales director at a retail design agency, I developed a business selling cardboard desks and play spaces to provide eco-friendly, educational products to children while they were staying at home. The agency I was working for embraced my vision, so we successfully ran this together with the whole team as a separate business unit, which in turn kept our local print suppliers’ machines running.

ISB: And what was the inspiration behind you starting this new enterprise?

CW: My own kids participated in starting this cardboard business, and I saw how excited they were by the whole process. They would test the prototypes, come up with ideas, design the social media photo shoots, even stick labels on the packaging. I knew that the skills they were learning were lifelong, and to see a business grow from an idea was life-changing for them. This was the driving force behind setting up an entrepreneurial academy for kids: Kid Biz Academy. 

My own kids have started many entrepreneurial ventures of their own since, from writing their own game books that we have self-published, to selling art in our neighbourhood. 


ISB: What sort of ideas are the children taking part in your workshops coming up with for their businesses?

CW: These kids are blowing me away with their ideas! We have a huge range of ideas from slime stalls, to making jewellery out of old guitar strings, ‘how to fish’ boat tours, a rock climbing YouTube channel, selling replica war weapons, clay jewellery, digital art, fashion stylist and more. Every single class has different ideas and there’s always something I don’t expect.

ISB: How does your approach grab the attention of kids who do not engage so well with ‘mainstream’ education?

CW: The skills children learn from starting a business are not taught in schools, but they are needed for life in the modern world which is why I am so passionate about igniting a spark in young people, showing them that they can thrive in doing something they are passionate about and helping them develop entrepreneurial skills and an entrepreneurial mindset.  

Starting a business can teach children how to communicate, lead, be creative, problem solve, deal with failure, pitch ideas and negotiate. These entrepreneurial skills are essential to their success long term which is why promoting entrepreneurship is so vital. 

Some kids feel that they are failing at school because they do not fit in a certain ‘box’ or don’t perform well in exams. In my workshops, kids get to work on their own individual business ideas – something that they love. I teach kids that the first step to starting their own business is doing something that they are passionate about and that failing, whether it be in school or in business, is a vital part of learning. We win or we learn, every single time. 

By the end of the workshops, kids are pitching their business ideas and it gives me so much joy to see their passion and confidence shine through.

ISB: How do you see the business developing in the next couple of years?  

CW: Every day I discuss my vision for the business with more and more people who are as passionate as I am. I am in the process of developing a book for kids and will launch an online course soon. I am working on a pitching night (like Dragon’s Den) where the kids can be given investment for their business, and I see Kid Biz Awards and Business Fairs happening one day. There are big things happening so watch this space!

ISB: And, finally, as a serial entrepreneur, what is the #1 piece of advice you’d give to others who dream of starting their own business?

CW: Starting your own business is hard work. There is no such thing as overnight success. But if you are determined, passionate and resilient enough – it will be the best thing you ever did. 

Also – make sure you invest in yourself, find a mentor, ask for help and don’t be afraid to fail! There’s so much advice I want to give here, but we’ve come to the end of our question section – so go for it! 

Article originally appeared onhttps://insidesmallbusiness.com.au/latest-news/qa-giving-kids-a-head-start-on-the-road-to-entrpreneurship

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