On Happy Childhood Day, we ask young people who've started their own online businesses to share top tips and advice - their successes and failures - to help their peers just starting out.
Picture an entrepreneur, and you probably have in mind a Silicon Valley tech bro. Indeed, the average age of a start-up owner is 35. But there are plenty of younger people – plenty of kids still in school – who are also pursuing their business passions.
One 2020 study found that the number of teens running businesses had increased seven-fold over the previous decade. Relatively adept at harnessing digital tools for good, these children – with a supervisory helping hand from Mum, Dad, or an older sibling – are blazing new trails, and building enviable careers along the way.
Meet three UK child entrepreneurs.
Kirsten and Aiyven Mbawa, aged 15 and 14, from Northampton
Kirsten and Aiyven have always been voracious readers.
“Ever since we were little, our parents always read to us every night,” the sisters say. “Our dad was especially good at making up new stories, which helped a great deal with our imagination, coupled with our mum, who loves writing, too.”
Determined to share this passion with others, they started a YouTube channel, reviewing the children’s and young adults’ books that they read. Then, in 2019, they entered the BBC 500 Words writing competition before launching a Kickstarter campaign to get their stories published. It was successful, and the following year Kirsten’s book, Sagas of Anya, was published alongside Aiyven’s Land Of The Nurogons.
Don’t hold back or fear what others might think of you
“We were 12 and 11 when we published our debut novels during the pandemic,” the sisters explain. “In the marketing process, we contacted bookshops, online retail outlets and book subscription services.
“We soon realised that there was a gap in the market for a children’s book subscription box service, with diverse books to accommodate not just the avid reader but reluctant or struggling readers, too.”
So the sisters launched Happier Every Chapter, which they describe as a “book subscription service which includes diverse and inclusive books to ensure we didn’t just promote reading for pleasure, but diversity awareness, too.