Saint Louis University

K-12 Entrepreneurship

v.3, January 30, 2012

Youth entrepreneurship is the grown-up term for students in elementary and high schools starting their own firms. While there are some famous cases, with Bill Gates being one of the best known, youth entrepreneurship happens a lot more often and in a lot more ways, some probably close at home to you!

Lots of teens and pre-teens are interested. Today Kauffman Foundation studies show about 4 out of 10 people from 8 to 24 either want to own their own business or already do! These numbers vary with the larger economy. For wanted example, back in 1999, during the Dot-Com Boom, an earlier Kauffman Foundation survey found nearly 7 out of 10 teens wanted to be self-employed someday. But in the down economy of 2011, 40% is pretty big company. Perhaps what has gotten better is that the press around young people who are starting their own businesses abound in the media.

Even better, there are now a lot of good places to look for advice and help on the web. Below eWeb provides links to those few sites ready to give youth help over the web, as well as the list of sites for organizations helping K-12 entrepreneurship through adults. The list comes from our own high school summer academies, as well as advice from eWeb users like Katie from Monument Charter School, Michael Liddell who founded, and Lauren Katz.

Sites For K-12 Entrepreneurs

SBA Teen Business Link: The SBA (Small Business Administration) is the US Government agency which focuses on promoting small business. They've created this site with new versions of some of their most popular material redone to do more for young entrepreneurs. The graphics and sound may be 2000, but the content is right up-to-date, and the site connects you to all sorts of free government help. One good thing about the site is that everything is available for free - no one is trying to sell you anything, and the SBA has a long record to helping small business owners. Grade: A- (because of the clunky looking nature of the site) This is a website that got started focusing on youth investing in the stock market with a small section on youth entrepreneurship. The free material is good, but the amount of it has not grown much over the past few years. There is a members only section which requires a fee, but the free materials are plentiful and very good. Grade: B-

All Terrain Brain: All Terrain Brain is a site which focuses on 8-12 year old future and current owners! The site has lots of graphics and videos (there is a TV show behind this), and ATB's goal is to help current and future entrepreneurs develop a creative and flexible mindset, one focusing on solving problems. There are lots of online games to try and explanations for entrepreneurs and parents alike. Grade: A (formerly Is an organization that organizes teams of youth to develop businesses to help their communities. It is one of the few websites to actually have online material of use to prospective youth entrepreneurs, including advice on getting started success stories. It looks like YouthVenture partnered with which is one of the leading organizations supporting social entrepreneurship, and the resulting website is outstanding! Grade: A

That's it! There has GOT to be more! Let me know if you have sites to recommend. Email your suggestions to me at

Its not kid-focused, but it IS interactive and free. For help in getting started on doing business plans, look at eWeb's Business Planning page. Click here.

Organizations Helping To Develop K-12 Entrepreneurship Through Adults

The Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education: One of the oldest organizations in this business :-) and one of the few sites that puts their material online for folks to use. The site has cases, success stories, projects, and activities accessible from here.

Junior Achievement: The grandparent of free enterprise training in the schools has a series of programs for K-12 (actually an annual series for K-6) which talks more about economic issues than starting a business. THAT gets reserved for older kids.

National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship: Another old, established player in the business, NFTE has an adult-lead program for training teens in entrepreneurship. One of the most widely used curricula in the country, NFTE has expanded into camps and more diverse publishing. 

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation: Has a series of programs to promote youth entrepreneurship, including the All Terrain Brain and studies mentioned above.

Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE): Is focused on college aged students and is one of the major national organizations underlying college "entrepreneurship clubs." Saint Louis University has a SIFE chapter. To see what they're up to, click here.

OPENAIR-MARKET NET: The World Wide Guide to Farmers' Markets, Street Markets, Flea Markets and Street Vendors - from Steve Balkin, Alfonso Morales, and John Cross provides a neat listing of websites tied into these low-cost forums for selling. Not strictly youth oriented, but as a place for youth to try their selling skills with little up-front cost, its a good resource to know.

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