Kid Start-Up by Mark Cuban (Book Review)

Kid Start-Up by Mark Cuban

Ask a kid if they want to start a business, and you’ll probably get a mixed response. Some kids are excited for a new adventure. Other kids may see it as a lot of work. A kid with either opinion is correct: Starting a business is both an adventure and a lot of work.

If you have a tween kid who is motivated to start a business this is the book for you. Kid Start-Up was written by Mark Cuban, Shaan Patel, and Ian McCue. I speculate that Patel and McCue may have done most of the writing, and Cuban lent his name to give the book credibility. I have difficulty believing he carved out a lot of time from his hundreds of business ventures to write a kid’s book.

I believe there are two clear-cut ways to make your kid a millionaire. One follows traditional personal finance methods such as saving, earning, and investing. Teaching compound interest will take them a long way. The second way to make your kid a millionaire is to teach them to be entrepreneurs. Kid Start-Up is the perfect guide for that path.

Kid Start-up Summary

Kid Start-up was written for kids. While the authors claim that kids ages 8 and 9 can follow it, I think it might be better suited for kids who are a little older. In fact, some of the advice is perfect for adults. I’m going to go through each chapter and highlight what is covered:

Chapter 1: What is an Entrepreneur

An entrepreneur is someone who starts a business to make money. To be an entrepreneur, you must have an idea and take action on it. For example, I had the idea for Kid Wealth over five years ago. I only took action to make it a reality about a year and a half ago. Of course, right now, Kid Wealth isn’t much of a business – it doesn’t make money. Maybe it will make money and become a business someday. In the meantime, I enjoy the hobby of writing it.

One of the important things to know about being an entrepreneur is that they fail. Some of them fail a lot. Failure can be a good thing. As Jake from Adventure Time says:

Jake from Adventure Time on Sucking

The good thing about failing as a kid is that you get started on that first step to being good early.

Successful entrepreneurs have five main traits. They are hard-working, enthusiastic, creative, flexible, and motivated. I feel enthusiasm and motivation go hand-in-hand, but the authors decided to write about them separately.

The main thing that an entrepreneur aims to do is to create value for someone else (usually a customer). You help them solve a problem they are having. For example, imagine you are a parent of a kid who wants to start a business. You want to help your kid learn how to start a business, but how? The authors of this book solve that problem by putting it all in the Kid Start-Up book. You spend a few dollars to give your child the knowledge of several successful entrepreneurs.

The authors of the book created a business that sells that knowledge. If people have problems like their grass growing too fast and crazy, kids can create a business that mows lawns for neighbors.

Chapter 2: The Kid Entreprenuer

Kid entrepreneurs have a few advantages that adults don’t have. The book repeats the message that by starting, young kids have more time to learn from the mistakes they make. However, the book is realistic. Kids are in school a lot, so they have to plan their time outside of school well. That can mean cutting out video games and not watching Mr. Beast on YouTube. Kids need to use that time to build their businesses. There will be time later when they’ve made their millions.

Kid Start-Up makes the great point that when time is limited, people become more efficient. For example, if you have three months to read a book, you might take all three months. If you have three days, you’ll divide it into thirds and attack it a little each day. This chapter gives kids some basic productivity tips.

Success kid entrepreneurs say the following quotes every day:

  • “One Day at a Time”
  • “One Task at a Time”
  • “I Will Make Money”
  • “Two Hours for Business”
  • “My Reward Will Be…”
  • “My Goal Is to…”

The book also gives you the best predictor of success for entrepreneurs. Curious what it is? I’m not going to give it away: Buy the book to find out.

Chapter 3: Discovering Your Business Idea

The main idea of this chapter is to identify a problem in your daily life. You can’t help someone without some kind of problem. Once you have the problem, invent a solution with a product or service. Sell that solution and profit!

What’s the best business idea? It’s a business that you are good at and gets you excited about working hard. You need to have both of them if you are going to be successful.

Chapter 4: 10 Businesses Any Kid Can Start

This next chapter is just what the title says. It’s ten business ideas that kids can start. The two ideas that interested me the most are the scented soaps and making and selling duct tape wallets. One of my sons loves to cook, and the scented soaps would be up his alley. The other kid loves making things. He’s already made wallets out of construction paper just for his own amusement.

This chapter not only gives kids some concrete ideas but also walks them through the pricing examples. Kids will learn the cost of goods and how much profit they’ll make for each sale. Kids will also learn how and where to sell the products and services.

Chapter 5: Nuts & Bolts of Launching Your Business

This chapter walks kids through the technology that can be used to sell most products and services. Kids will learn how to make flyers, use social media, build a free website, and sell on eBay.

It finishes with a page on legal tips.

This chapter often recommends that kids work with their parents. In reality, very few of the ideas in this chapter make sense for an eight or 9-year-old. Parents will need to do nearly everything in this chapter.

Chapter 6: Successful Kid Entrepreneur Interviews

This chapter consisted of six interviews with six kids with successful businesses. These stories are motivational, but I don’t know how useful they are. The answers are often very specific to that specific kid’s business. They may not translate to a different business.

Chapter 7: 10 Business Principles Any Kid Can Follow

This chapter serves as a summary or reinforcement of the previous chapters. It brings it all together.

1. Business Ideas are Easy

Kid Start-Up stresses that coming up with a business idea is easy. I agree. I have at least ten business ideas that are just sitting around. What’s difficult is executing the ideas. It didn’t take me long to come up with the idea of a website that helps parents and kids learn about personal finance. It was a lot more work to find the domain, write the articles, promote it on social media, etc.

An important thing to note is that you shouldn’t guard your business ideas. Most likely, no one else has the time to execute your idea.

The section finishes with a template designed to guide kids to create an action plan.

2. Do What You Know

The best business to start is in a field that you already know. If you don’t have a dog and have never walked one, a dog walking business may not be a great idea. If you have no experience, you don’t know if you’ll be enthusiastic enough to work hard at it.

3. Don’t Expect to Win the Lottery

Starting a business is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It can seem like famous people on social media make money overnight. It’s extraordinarily rare to go viral on social media and also extraordinarily rare to make a big profit in your business right away.

Slow and steady wins the race. It will take some time to get your name out and for business to come in. Try to set some goals, such as making your first $100 in the first month. Then try to make $200 in the next month. Keep on trying to grow the business and profits.

4. Save Money to Make Money

You do not often see a frugal mindset mentioned in an entrepreneurial book. However, it makes a lot of sense. If you can keep your costs low, that’s less risk and more profit!

5. Be a Big Fish in a Small Pond

It’s better to do business in a small town with less competition. You wouldn’t open up a fast burger place right next to McDonalds. It’s better to find someplace with no McDonalds, even if fewer potential customers are there.

6. Make Money in Your Sleep

Be careful about trading time for money. It can work for some highly paid professions, such as doctors, lawyers, and plumbers. If you start an online business, you can make money in your sleep. For example, I could add advertisements to this website and make a little money throughout the day. However, my traffic is very low, and you might not want to look at advertisements. I’d prefer you email a friend or share Kid Wealth on social media. That’s more likely to happen if you have a great experience here.

(Are you having a great experience here? Let me know by leaving a comment.)

7. Just Start

This is perhaps the best advice in the whole book. The biggest thing is to get going with something. You can always change/modify/evolve it.

The only problem with this section is the assignment. It asks kids to take an online business idea from the previous section and build a website along with a payment system. At least it tells the 8-year-old to ask their parents to help with a PayPal account. The advice is to advertise the product or service even if you haven’t created the product or know how to do the service. I don’t think that’s a smart idea.

8. Be Obsessed

This may be the second most important advice in the book. If you are obsessed with your business, you will think about it every waking minute. That means you will want to work on it and improve it.

Kid Start-up separates passion from obsession. Obsession is much stronger than passion for something. It suggests writing some things that you are obsessed about. My oldest is obsessed with Pokemon. My youngest is obsessed with anything related to Legos. Maybe they could each have their own YouTube channel.

9. Give Something to Get Something

The advice here is to give away something for free to hook your customer. For example, you can offer the first car wash for free. I could offer a free ebook for Kid Wealth in exchange for your email address. Perhaps when I create a product (such as an online course), I could sell it to you.

In fact, the example they give is to create an eBook to give away. However, I don’t know how many 8-year-olds can write a 10-page eBook.

10. Start a Service-based Business

Finally, Kid Start-up suggests selling a service-based business instead of a product-based one. It feels like they ran out of ideas and just wanted to make an even number of ten business principles.

Chapter 8: Extra Content

The extra content is a page on affiliate marketing, which is completely inappropriate for a kid under ten. Next, there’s a glossary, which is a lot more valuable. Finally, there’s a list of software and online resources that can help you get going. Some examples are art programs for designing flyers or free website hosting services.

Final Thoughts on Kid Start-Up

Mark Cuban and other Kid Start-Up authors
Mark Cuban and other Kid Start-Up authors

Kid Start-Up is the best book on entrepreneurism for kids. The only nitpick is that the suggestions often go beyond the target ages of 8-9 years old.

It’s very difficult to imagine a book on entrepreneurism because it can be very vague. Kid Start-Up has to cover the process of creating any type of product or service. Yet it does it very well. I felt like I was ready to start a new company after reading it.

“Kid Start-Up” is not just a book; it’s a call to action for the next generation of entrepreneurs. It encourages kids to dream big, work hard, and take the first step toward creating their future. Mark Cuban’s passion for entrepreneurship and dedication to empowering young minds shine through every page, making this book a must-read for kids and adults alike. It’s a roadmap to success that starts with a single step, and who better to lead the way than Mark Cuban (or writers working with him)?

If you enjoyed this book review, please check out our guide to the best kids money books.

Brian MacFarland has reached more than 10 million people on his personal finance journey to financial independence.  He’s been featured in the Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, and Lifehacker.

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