Bright young business stars

When most 15-year-old boys are playing football or computer games after school, James Kenyon from Astley in Manchester is running his own successful business. "I'd heard of a company in Scotland selling homemade bath products and thought it was a good idea," explains James. "My dad said 'You could do that', so I decided to give it a go." That was three-and-a-half years ago, when James was just 11-years-old.

James started selling to school friends and teachers, but soon found himself with a nationwide customer base and supplying products to two local retailers. Since James started The Astley Soap Company - which sells homemade soap, bath salts and bath bombs - he has turned over £4,500 in profit and made finalist in the Enterprising Young Brit Awards in 2005.

James is not alone in achieving huge success at such a young age. He is among an extraordinary group of enterprising young Brits, who - with their innovative ideas and enthusiasm for business - are set to become the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

And far from being phased by success, James is incredibly laid back about his achievements. "I don't have any plans for the future of the business yet. I've learnt lots and I'm really enjoying it; so I'm just going to see how it goes," he says - adding that his school work comes first.

Teenage tycoons like James are a huge force to be reckoned with. Age and inexperience is certainly no obstacle to their success - instead ambition and energy inspires them to give their moneymaking ideas a go.

Harness youthful vigour

Michael Savory, chief executive of Young Enterprise - which runs a nationwide series of educational enterprise programmes for primary school children right through to university graduates - says we need to bully schools and employers to work together to support enterprising children. "Young people are bursting with enthusiasm and great ideas - but more needs to be done to encourage them how to put them into practice."

The government has sought to encourage schools to team-up with schemes like Young Enterprise to bring business to the classroom. But Savory is worried the money be utilised in the right way. "Many schools misconstrue its intention and use the funding for things like a school mini bus to take pupils on trips instead," explains Savory. "It is meant to bring hands-on enterprise learning to the classroom with projects like setting up and running a real business - so teachers need to be taught about the concept first in order for children to fully benefit from it."

Fortunately, there are a number of other programmes, including Shell LiveWIRE and Junior Chamber International so children can still get involved in enterprise even if their school isn't. There is also 'Make your Mark - Start Talking Ideas', a nationwide campaign to provide advice and recognition to budding young entrepreneurs. It holds annual events including the Enterprising Young Brit Awards and Enterprise Week.

Enterprise Week involves a range of nationwide events aimed at helping young people turn their ideas into working realities. A wide range of organisations get involved, from schools, colleges and universities to local charities, businesses and the government, providing an opportunity for youngsters to get advice on their ideas, share stories and make contacts.

A jammy enterprise

Fraser Doherty, 18, from Edinburgh won the teen category for Enterprising Young Brit Award in 2004 and is now an ambassador for Make your Mark. Fraser created Doherty Preserves when his gran taught him her secret recipe for orange marmalade, when he was just 14-years-old. "I had something of a 'Eureka' moment when I realised I could make jam myself and sell it door-to-door in the local area," says Fraser.

Fraser started selling the marmalade in his village, but soon found himself delivering hundreds of jars every week, as well as selling online, at local farmers markets and through delicatessens.

When Fraser won the Enterprising Young Brit Award, which was presented to him by Gordon Brown - Doherty's Preserves snowballed again and Fraser was making thousands of jars with the help of several part-time staff.

"I encounter obstacles every day and overcoming them is what makes running my own business so thrilling and satisfying," says Fraser. "My next challenge is moving the business to the next level by investing in new packaging, developing new products, including a sugar-free range, and moving into a factory."

There are many other savvy teenagers like James and Fraser who are turning their bright ideas into reality. The common denominator is that with a lot of hard work and a positive attitude - anyone can set up their own successful venture, and after all, they should know.

Of course, it helps if mum and dad offer support along the way - so with a little encouragement and a clever, yet simple idea - your child could be the next business star of tomorrow.

Moneywise is campaigning for the government to introduce personal finance onto the National Curriculum. You can show your support by signing our petition on the Prime Minister's website.

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