When Adam Toren offered me the opportunity to read "Kidpreneurs", a book that he authored with his brother Matthew Toren, I jumped at the chance. As an entrepreneur - and a mother of two sons (ages 7 and 10), I have always struggled to explain to my children exactly what it is that I do. While they have met my co-workers and could tell you the names of my clients from overheard dinner table discussions, their best description of my job is that I am perpetually attached to my laptop and cell phone. Not exactly the parent they want to bring into class for "career day" when the other option is their father who is a pediatric cardiologist and can take them on tours of the hospital and show them pictures of their hearts.
Adam and Matthew Toren have compiled an easy to understand outline of how a child or young adult can start a business of their own. They walk the young reader through a simplified concept of what it means to be an entrepreneur and then provide guidance for how to come up with a business idea, target a customer base, price a product and provide customer service. The book even provides a streamlined outline of how to create a one-page business plan which would actually be a helpful exercise for many older entrepreneurs I know!
I was particularly impressed by the Torens' decision to discuss ethics and integrity. While their target audience of 7 to 13 year-olds probably don't keep an eye on the front page of the Wall Street Journal each day, most savvy kids are aware of the current economic climate and the more precocious ones might even understand the basics behind terms like "ponzi scheme" and "salary cap". Bringing up the importance of ethics in business is an important message to deliver to kids - especially those interested in building their own startup.
What was most meaningful to me as an entrepreneur though, was the final chapter that shared a list of the real challenges that entrepreneurs face. From coping with failure and rejection to having to learn from your mistakes, the Torens truly captured the everyday struggles of entrepreneurs. While delivering some hard realities, they also include positive messages like never giving up, keeping a positive attitude, learning to manage your cash flow and most importantly, having fun.
After I finished the book, I gave it to my 10-year old to read. His reaction was, "That is a great book if you want to start a business, but I'm not going to do that. I'm going to be a doctor like Dad."
Somewhat disheartened that my business-bug had bypassed him, I asked why he had decided on that as a career path.
"Well, in a bad economy, you never have to worry about having customers as a doctor. People always get sick."
Smiling to myself after his reply, I thought maybe there was a "kidpreneur" in him after all.