Our team at Whole Kids Foundation is supporting kids to become entrepreneurs because the skills needed as a successful young business leader will benefit them for a lifetime. From critical thinking to goal setting, entrepreneurship skills are life skills.

As a mom of a 16-year-old son Patrick, who has now had at least three businesses that I can count, I’ve become a student of entrepreneurship. It all began in the second grade with “market day.” Market Day is a series of lessons where kids ideate, design, and create a product. It culminates in one day where the students sell their products. Patrick was HOOKED!

In the same way, Whole Kids Foundation encourages kids to learn about where food comes from to help them build healthier eating habits for a lifetime - using natural curiosity to understand where products come from or how services are provided sets our kids up as critical thinkers!

Patrick and I want to share a few valuable lessons we’ve learned along the way, which all started with homemade playdough!

Patrick chose homemade playdough as his market day product. He decided this after conversations about:

What do you know how to do? Making playdough was routine at our house, and his favorite part was stirring the dough and adding the colors.

Who is your customer? K-5th grade students were each provided eight quarters to shop on Market Day. He figured that most kids love playdough, and it was otherwise prohibited at school (he is that devious).

How should you price it? The cost of a can of store-bought playdough was too much, he thought. Since kids would have quarters, he reasoned that was an excellent place to start. And if he made different colors, he could sell each for a quarter. Also, he wouldn’t have to make change – an added advantage to a 2nd grader.

How to package it? If he wanted to sell it for 25 cents, he had to design the product so that his cost to make it allowed for profit (that was one of the grading criteria). The formula is simple: Retail Price - Cost of Goods = Profit. This is where LOADS of critical thinking and strategic math can become fun!

Patrick’s experience with playdough morphed into a pizza dough business. He took his business skills to the next level selling the dough for one price and par-baked crusts (a convenience) for a little more. Today he has six yards that he takes care of, and pet sits for the neighbors. I’m convinced that his early experiences contributed to his sense of responsibility and organization.

As a relatively shy kid, it was exhilarating to see the pride he had in telling someone about how he made his product. That confidence has extended into clear communication on almost every front.

Patrick’s last bit of advice… “Make sure kids know they will have a bad day or week. It’s okay.” While Patrick learned some invaluable skills as a young entrepreneur, he undoubtedly taught me it’s easy to underestimate the capacity & resilience of our kids.

Know a young entrepreneur helping to change the way kids eat through gardening, plant-forward cooking or healthy eating? Share the #WholeKidsBiz Sweepstakes so they can submit a video about their business for the chance to win cash prizes totaling $5,000!

The #WholeKidsBiz Sweepstakes is the first step in determining interest and support needed to help young entrepreneurs and school business programs and will help guide a future pilot grant program.