Helping Your Young Entrepreneur Find the Right Business Idea

Helping Your Young Entrepreneur Find the Right Business Idea

When it comes to starting a business, typically the first place our kids will stumble and get discouraged is coming up with an idea. Like many adults, they can feel like there are no business ideas out there, or none are “the one” for them. 


The first way you can help your young entrepreneur to come up with a business idea is to reduce the stress and size of the decision. Encourage them to do a mini-experiment with a 1-3 month commitment to an idea. Once that time is up, they can continue, try something new, or take a break, but it only needs a small commitment. Quite often, we can feel like a new business idea is a lifetime endeavor which creates this sense of needing to pick the perfect idea that we will love and will make tons of money. The mini-experiment approach allows for more trial and error as we figure out the right path and method for ourselves.

What makes a good business idea?

At its core, a good business must solve a problem for people. If a business does not solve a problem for someone, it will likely be a struggle to convince someone to buy from you. If you think back to your most recent purchase, what problem was being solved? Was it hunger, boredom, being too hot or too cold, being uncomfortable, needing to do something faster, wanting to express yourself or a message, or was it just exactly what you needed at that time? Ask your child the same questions!


As your child begins to explore different ideas, ask them to consider what problem their business is going to solve for people. If they can’t answer that question, they are probably going to struggle with giving a good reason why anyone would want to buy from them. 

Find the complainers.

Let’s face it, we love to complain. We can’t help but share our frustrations and pain points with one another as we seek validation and camaraderie. As future kid business owners, all they need to do is start listening. 


Pick a group that you’d like to serve with your business and then start listening to what their problems are. What causes them to complain? What are they asking for help with? Which problems are they not able to get solved easily or the current solution is not good enough? These are all opportunities for a young entrepreneur to swoop in with a solution and find customers willing to part with their money for that solution.

It’s easier to come up with 12 ideas than just 1.

Rather than trying to figure out the one idea that your kid wants to work on, challenge them to find twelve. What this will do is lower their barrier for evaluating potential ideas and allow for ideas to flow more freely. 


In addition to looking for the complaints in their world, they can also look for inspiration in other areas. An exercise I love to do with my Simple StartUp students is to give them 2 minutes to write down as many thoughts as they can for each of the following: 

  • Likes, interests, and hobbies
  • Skills and knowledge bases
  • Resources available (tools, materials, equipment, people in their network)
  • Ideas 

After 8 minutes, they now have 4 lists of thoughts on paper and they can start trying to see if there are any interests or skills that line up with resources already available that could apply to one of their ideas. 

Pick an idea that is easy to start and fun to do.

Whatever business idea your child decides to try, it should be something that excites them. Signing up for a business that will make money but feels like a chore or a job will most likely fizzle out fast due to lack of motivation. Most businesses are going to need some patience in the beginning as they slowly build up sales. Finding an idea that is easy to get started also feeds into this point, since an easy-to-start idea will allow the young business owner to see progress quickly and provides the opportunity to start developing the business based on customer feedback immediately. 


Have your child take each of their 12 ideas (or more!) and rank them based on their excitement level and ease to start. Whichever one has the highest average score over the two categories is a great place to start.


The great thing about having multiple ideas all ranked like this is you now have a Plan B and Plan C ready to go if the first idea turns out to not be a good one and a pivot is needed. 


As your child starts their business journey, make sure they know that it’s ok if the business does not make money or it turns out people just don’t want what they are selling. This is a learning experience and no matter what the financial success of the business is, your child is already going to be successful based on all the things they are going to learn from this experience. If you would like more support along this journey, I run a mini Idea Generator course to help young entrepreneurs find and evaluate business ideas. 



Read: Tips for Young Entrepreneurs from a Teen Multi-Million Dollar Business Owner



About the author:

Rob Phelan, CFEI, is a full time high school personal finance teacher living in Frederick, Maryland with his wife and son. He is the founder of The Simple StartUp, where he guides 10 to 18-year-old entrepreneurs through starting their first businesses, and he most recently published a children’s book, M is for Money, that introduces 3-8 year olds to age-appropriate money words and normalizes conversations about money. You can connect with Rob on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Written by Rob Phelan Published Mar 11, 2022 ● 3 min. read