Danielle Wright meets young entrepreneurs learning business lessons early.

Who can resist a 50c glass of home-made lemonade, funny-looking fudge, lolly necklaces or wonky cupcakes, when industrious children on roadsides sell them? I know I can't.

Some children, though, take it a step further and create a business, making money from their passion.

Marilyn Kelly is the co-founder of Love To Live, a not-for-profit that holds a Young Entrepreneurs Competition for school-aged children aged 5 and older.

"Kids come up with a business idea, they present at a Dragons' Den-style event, and we choose finalists who then receive mentoring and a Westpac account with $100 to start them off while they're writing their business plans," says Marilyn.

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"We look at how well their business is put together, not just who sells the most. The kids exceed any expectations we put on them."

"There's not much job security right now, so teaching business skills is so important," says Missy Fleming, mother of young entrepreneur Sierra, 6, who makes glitter gloss: lip balm made from vaseline, lime juice and edible glitter.

"Parents are always so surprised at how much their kids can achieve without their help."

Missy (who runs Miss Melicious Cupcakes in Te Atatu) has also mentored children on the programme.

"Every child gets something different out of the process," she says.

"Not until they get up in front of their stands on the final day do you see how proud they are of their achievements."

Sophie Brouwer, 8, upcycles tins after being inspired by her mother's talent with making cards. She says she's doing it more for fun than for money - although hopes to make "fifty-hundred" dollars from her venture.

"I'd like to have my own business one day," says Sophie, who wants to buy an iPad with the money she makes. "Probably a food shop that sells lollies."

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"We try to make it a real-life business," says Marilyn.

"There are costs, schedules, marketing, competitors, signage, etc. A lot of businesses start from solving a problem - kids have great imaginations to come up with solutions that adults would never dream up."

The judges take it very seriously and find it hard to decide on a winner.

Marilyn's advice to children wanting to take part next year is: "Come up with an idea and do it."

Visit the finalists selling their goods at the Te Atatu Peninsula Community Fun Day next weekend, February 22. See tapfunday.net
For more information on the entrepreneurs' programme visit lovetolive.co.nz and bizkids.co.nz
Hitting the right note

Jilly Magan, 15 was given the task of writing a song for a school project. She took it a step further and wrote, produced, recorded and publicly released her single, Light, late last year. It is now on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon and as a CD.

The single was a response to losing her cousin, nana and uncle in 2013 and she says writing the song helped her to get through the grief. She also became involved with Ronald McDonald House and donated all profits of her single to the charity.

"This is the first time I've made money for myself," says Jilly. "It taught me a lot of independence to go off and find my own way."

Jilly Magan recording her first album. Photo / Tracy Magan
Jilly Magan recording her first album. Photo / Tracy Magan

Jilly's mum Tracy is a New Zealand music business figure who started organising paid concerts in her neighbourhood when she was just 7.

She later founded Siren Records (Goldenhorse, Opshop, Annabel Fay) and managed or tour managed many of New Zealand's leading recording artists.

"As much as I'm not keen on Jilly being a musician, I am proud of her initiative and drive in getting the single done in the way she did," says Tracy, who did offer some help to her daughter in terms of advice and contacts.

"It's been helpful having a mum that's like a manager," says Jilly. "She's coached me on how to be professional in the studio and she treats me like she would one of her artists. It's really helpful knowing she has the experience and I trust her constructive criticism."

Jilly says the most surprising thing has been how long it took to do everything, especially booking the recording studio in advance. She credits her best friend Jamie for helping her along the way.

"Having your family's opinion is one thing, but having your friend's is another," says Jilly.

"Having said that, if you've got a family that supports and backs you and have the drive, making a single is not hard and not expensive, so anyone can do it."

Jilly Light is available on iTunes.
Happy cats = Happy kids

Zylah Vivace, 8, of Grey Lynn, last year set up Happy Cats, a cat-minding business.

"I really like cats and thought it would be more fun and better for them to stay at home rather than be sent to a cattery," says Zylah. "It's fun to meet all the new cats because they're all very different - some can be quite shy."

Zylah's mum Sally Frewin volunteers for the SPCA as a driver and foster-mum for some of the kittens. She says Zylah's efforts over Christmas made enough pocket money to fly the family to Australia to see a beloved Nanny who moved there last year.

8-year-old Zylah Vivace with two kittens from the SPCA. Photo / Natalie Slade
8-year-old Zylah Vivace with two kittens from the SPCA. Photo / Natalie Slade

Zylah turns up to her cat-minding appointments with her bag filled with cat treats, a brush and a cat toy to befriend the cats, as well as business cards and a branded cap (a present from Santa).

All the emphasis is on Zylah doing the caring for the animals, but Sally does the "fun" stuff like emptying the kitty litter and receiving middle-of-the-night texts from overseas owners making sure their precious furry friend is okay - some clients are a little too attached.

Dragons' Den being Sally's favourite programme, she has used the experience to teach Zylah all about how to run a small business - from taking out public liability insurance to creating a website.

"I wanted to educate Zylah about expenses and income and about being entrepreneurial, it isn't necessarily a hard thing to make money," says Sally, who has given her daughter three money boxes: save, spend and donate.

"It was cool choosing all the different things I wanted on the website," says Zylah, who is hoping to become a vet when she grows up. Her Happy Cats experience will surely put her at the front of the queue for any future work.