#17. Organize and run a small business with some friends

IDEA #17. Earn a sum of money with a business that you organize and run with friends. Then find a charity you believe in and contribute a tenth of what you earned.

This activity builds on the previous suggestion in the Business and Entrepreneurship category, with the added complexity of partnership. Here is a valuable opportunity to learn interpersonal skills around management and compromise, with the new wrinkle that the joint participants are friends.

One of the best ways to forestall problems among the partners–even with an elementary schooler’s lemonade stand–is to make a simple chart that defines and allots tasks and responsibilities, doing what’s possible to draw on strengths and interests. With the chart completed and literally signed off on by all participants, the next step is to build a timeline of jobs to be completed. Careful, open, and clear pre-planning of the work to be done is essential in making the operation, and the relationships of the partners, run smoothly.

NOTE FOR INTERESTED PARENTS/GUARDIANS: Incidentally, this same system—an established business model—can be used to help kids organize and complete collaborative academic projects, where workload inequity and individual shirking often lead to disaster among even close friends. Even if the teacher does not help students by assigning such a system, urge or even guide your child to set things up in this way—a clear list of tasks, a clear allocation of responsibility, a clear timeline—whenever a group project is starting. The plan should impress (and perhaps inspire) the teacher, and the work will go much more smoothly.

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