Over the last three years, Greater Fergus Falls has enjoyed showcasing the many businesses and industries that have set down roots in the Fergus Falls region. The area offers an incredibly diverse range of goods and services, and we are grateful to reside in a community with such a strong entrepreneurial spirit. While we’ve talked about entrepreneurs and startups in the past, today we want to highlight a very special group: youth entrepreneurs.
Keep reading to learn more about youth entrepreneurship and how the community can support these student-run businesses below!
What Drives Youth Entrepreneurship?
Youth entrepreneurship isn’t a new concept; students have been pursuing side hustles for quite some time. However, there’s been a recent surge in entrepreneurship from high school students, which many experts believe is fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. As educational institutions shifted to distance learning, many students found themselves with more free time. More time combined with a heavy push to online business models created the perfect catalyst for student entrepreneurship.
Every teen has their reasons for starting a part-time or hobby business, but there are some commonalities. Some of the biggest motivators among Gen Z are the desire for independence, making their own money through meaningful work, and driving social change. The rising cost of college tuition and the ongoing student loan crisis are also driving factors for young entrepreneurs.
Why Is Youth Entrepreneurship Important?
Youth entrepreneurship has been on the rise for quite some time, but it can be easy to underestimate the power it can have. However, these student-run businesses and the experience they provide have immense value. Student entrepreneurs are more likely to learn and develop essential skills and characteristics, including:
Creative and critical thinking
Strategic goal planning
Developing these skills and attributes will assist student entrepreneurs throughout their entire lives. They can be applied on both a personal and professional level and will continue to serve students no matter the career path they choose.
“‘Entrepreneurial skills’ don't have to be used for entrepreneurship,” explains Larry Alton for Inc.com. “Learning to research a business plan, manage your time, and lead others can help you in a wide variety of careers, classes, and life experiences. Better-trained entrepreneurs tend to be better performers in nearly all areas of life.”
In addition to teaching teens important life skills, youth entrepreneurship facilitates economic growth and drives innovation. Teens bring a unique perspective to the world of entrepreneurship. As one of the most tech-savvy generations to date, Gen Z is more likely to embrace different types of technology to not only create new innovative products and services but to reach multiple customers quickly and efficiently.
This reach in and of itself makes a big impact within the communities youth entrepreneurs serve. On a local scale, youth-run businesses bring access to goods and services that may not have been previously available. Making it easy to access various products encourages people to spend where they live, keeping more dollars in the community.
According to the Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAE), entrepreneurial endeavors also contribute to a growing economy by acting as a nexus for job creation. These new jobs can be created in the business itself, those it collaborates with, and its suppliers.
How to Support Student Entrepreneurs
When we encourage young entrepreneurs, the benefits are boundless. Economist Nicole Goodwin explains:
“With access to money, mentors, and markets, youth entrepreneurship has the capacity to contribute to economic growth, catalyze new industries, and support individuals, families, and communities.”
So, how can the community and business leaders help student entrepreneurs succeed? It doesn’t necessarily mean making a purchase, although that’s important too. There are plenty of other ways to make an impact, including:
Advocating for youth entrepreneurship programs in and out of school
Supporting student mentorship programs
Recommending their business to friends and family
Writing an online review for their product or service
Engaging with them on social media
Making introductions that help student entrepreneurs grow their professional network
Volunteering to speak at local schools about entrepreneurship
Providing internship opportunities that offer real-life experience
You don’t have to go far to find young entrepreneurs to support either. The Fergus Falls community is home to many creative, hardworking teens operating successful side hustles. Learn more about them below!
Ahlea Mouser, Pure Joy Farms
Pure Joy Farms sells soaps, lotions, wool, and other products made with sheep milk and wool from the Mouser family farm. Mouser runs the business with her mom, Katrina, but creating and selling soap was Ahlea’s idea. She initially bought all the supplies she needed using a loan from her mom, which she paid back from her profits. A handful of local businesses have since requested to carry Pure Joy Farms products in their store, and the lineup has expanded to include lotions, exfoliating bars, and raw wool.
Olivia Daniels, Flora & Faith
Youth entrepreneur Olivia Daniels makes handmade necklaces and earrings for her online business, Flora & Faith. Daniels strives to make a difference in the world by donating 10% of her profits to the Equal Justice Initiative. The Alabama-based non-profit organization provides legal representation to those who may have been wrongly convicted of a crime, received ineffective representation, or been denied a fair trial.
Visit Flora & Faith on Instagram to learn more.
Ava Hastings, Sugarbomb
Sugarbomb has been a staple in downtown Fergus Falls since 2019, but many may be surprised to find that the candy store is kid-owned and operated by Ava Hastings and her brother Dane. Sugarbomb, which sells both candy and bath bombs, started as a pop-up shop before expanding into a permanent brick-and-mortar location. In addition to bath bombs, visitors can find over 100 different types of sugary goods, including old-fashioned candy and soda. Sugarbomb has also provided a hub for budding entrepreneurs. Visitors can often find pop-up shops from local makers like Peney Cakes, Boss Mom Crafting, and artist Nancy X. Valentine.
Ava Werner, Ava Cakes
High school student Ava Werner turned her love of baking into a viable business, which she named Ava Cakes. Werner’s desserts are made from scratch using all-natural and often organic ingredients. The young baker’s confections include cakes and cupcakes in a variety of creative flavors, such as chocolate espresso, lemon raspberry, cookies and cream, and more. Whether you need a sweet treat for an upcoming event or just for fun, Werner’s beautifully decorated cakes have you covered.
Check out Ava Cakes on Instagram to learn more or place an order.