How to Start Your Very First Business – Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club

How to Start Your Very First Business – Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club

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New York, NY (November 2, 2015) “Success in business depends on good habits that are formed early in life.” That’s how Warren Buffett starts the foreword to How to Start Your Very First Business, available November 17. “Learning the value of being honest, being willing to take risks and fail, and protecting your reputation are among the lessons that form the fabric of success,”says Buffett. The book, geared toward kids ages 9 and up, is packed with advice from Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club about the kinds of good habits kid should embrace.

Using clear language and fun examples, the book is filled with valuable tips for starting a new business and clever ideas for tried-and-true start-ups for kids. Inspiring stories of successful young entrepreneurs will motivate readers—and show them that kids just like them have turned an idea into a reality. Tips, tools, and worksheets will guide readers through figuring out their costs and profit, branding their business, developing a business plan, marketing their product or service, and giving back to their communities.

This innovative book comes with a Square Reader that allows kids to take credit card payments as well as cash, once they are up and running.

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Buffett helped create the Secret Millionaires Club to teach financial literacy in a fun and accessible way. “Kids can’t understand the value of a dollar until they’ve earned one. How to Start Your Very First Business teaches them everything they’ll need to know to start earning,” says Buffett.


“As kids hit the age of independence, financial literacy becomes really important for them. But there isn’t a lot of information written for tweens who want to start earning some spending money. Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club—through its animated web and TV series, its contest, and now through this book—has the winning combination of authority and kid-friendliness,” says Downtown Bookworks’s President and the book’s co-author Julie Merberg. “Knowing how to run a business involves creativity, organizational skills, and dedication—all skills that serve children well in school and in life, as well as in whatever business they may choose to launch.”

About Warren Buffett's Secret Millionaires Club

Created in partnership with Mr. Buffett and produced by Andy and Amy Heyward, the Secret Millionaires Club began as an animated series featuring a group of kids whose adventures lead them to encounter financial and business problems to solve. Now the Secret Millionaires Club includes the “Learn & Earn” educational program, which features lessons and activities to help kids learn about business, and the annual Grow Your Own Business Challenge. Thousands of kids from around the country (ages 7–14) compete to create the best original business concept. Each spring, finalists are flown to Omaha with their teacher or mentor to present their ideas to Warren Buffett and a panel of VIP judges. Grand prize winners take home $5,000 each. For more information on the Grow Your Own Business Challenge, visit

About Downtown Bookworks

At Downtown Bookworks, our mission is to keep children engaged in reading and in the world around them with books and kits that are fun, educational, and feel good in small hands. Simon & Schuster handles the sales and distribution for Downtown Bookworks. For more information, visit


  • How to Start Your Very First Business by the producers of Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club, with Julie Merberg and Sarah Parvis
  • Foreword by Warren Buffett
  • Published by Downtown Bookworks
  • Distributed by Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 1941367119
  • ISBN-13: 978-1941367117
  • Children’s nonfiction
  • Ages 9 and up/grades 3 and up
  • Hardcover with die-cut
  • Comes with a Square credit card reader
  • 128 pages
  • $14.99
  • November 2015


Q & A with Warren Buffett, co-founder of the Secret Millionaires Club, Julie Merberg, president of Downtown Bookworks and co-author and Sarah Parvis, co-author

Q: Why did you help create the Secret Millionaires Club?

Warren Buffett: I believe it’s important for kids to develop good financial habits at a young age. The lessons kids learn from working on their business ideas are also good for their everyday lives. If they can train themselves to not be afraid to take risks and fail, to be honest and fair in their interactions with others, to not shy away from hard work, and to dedicate themselves to pursuits they really enjoy, then they’re setting themselves up for success in all things in life.

Q: What made you want to publish this book?

Julie Merberg: Financial literacy is important for all kids, especially as they become independent and are doing things (like going out for meals or to the movies) that require money. One of my four sons is always coming up with creative business ideas, and I know he is not the only entrepreneurial kid out there.

My son Nathanael started a business creating websites for small stores near his school—mostly corner grocery stores, coffee shops, pizzerias. He would first check to see if a place had a website, and if they didn’t, he would go in, introduce himself to the owner, and offer to create a website. He used a free web host to secure a domain and a template to design the most basic sites. He told his clients they could pay $20 if they liked his work or just $5 if they didn’t. Without even knowing what it was, he’d negotiated a kill fee, and he’d created a low-risk way for customers to give him a chance. It was pretty brilliant, and I don’t think a grown-up would ever offer that kind of pricing option. (Everybody gave him the $20, by the way.) I looked around and found that there really wasn’t any solid, engaging, age-appropriate information out there for kids like Nathanael who want to take the lemonade stand to the next level.

Q: Why is it important for kids to learn business skills?

Warren Buffett: When a kid at 8, 9, or 10 years old learns the basics of how finance works and how to behave in a business relationship, he or she can apply those lessons throughout their lives. Practicing those good habits over a lifetime can have huge beneficial consequences, not just for business, but for a person’s happiness and even how their families develop.

Julie Merberg: Knowing how to run a business involves creativity, organizational skills, and dedication—all skills that serve children well in school and in life, as well as in whatever business they may choose to launch. Most businesses also force kids to develop strong social skills because they are selling a product or service so they have to interact with people of all ages.

Kids have a tremendous sense of accomplishment when they earn money. Knowing that it took an hour to sell 10 cups of lemonade in order to make enough money to buy one movie ticket makes that movie very special—or possibly something your child might want to skip. It’s the most effective way to teach the value of money, which is a critical life lesson: That dollar equals 15 minutes of your time. In one afternoon of selling books on a blanket outside of the park, my son made enough money to take the whole family out for Chinese food. He was so unbelievably proud when he picked up the check, and I don’t think a meal ever tasted as good to him as that one.

Q: What is your advice for coming up with the perfect business idea?

Warren Buffett: Find a business idea you love. You’ll do so much better if you are interested and enjoy what you’re doing. Your customers and the people you work with will notice that passion and excitement.

Q: How can you keep a child from being discouraged when he or she runs into difficulty with a business idea?

Sarah Parvis: Never underestimate the power of mentors. No one expects a kid to be able to master all of the facets of creating a business. By talking to adults or older kids who have already had success in developing a product, holding a fundraising campaign, creating a website, or marketing an idea, young entrepreneurs will realize they are not alone. They can learn from others’ experience and hopefully find a solution that works for whatever part of the process isn’t going smoothly. Plus, working with a mentor or a friend can be a lot of fun.

Q: How can parents help kids get their businesses rolling? How much help is too much or too little?

Julie Merberg: Initially, parents can be a good sounding board to help their kids figure out if a business is viable, and also to encourage them to think like an entrepreneur. If your child is super crafty or a terrific cook, encourage him or her to set up shop. If your child has a green thumb or is great with kids, you can give him or her the nudge to create a service business. On the financial side, if you can help with modest start-up costs (ingredients for gluten-free muffins, flower seeds, beads, etc.), that’s a great investment in a child’s future independence. But you should be clear that your investment is a loan that can be repaid after your child makes his or her first sales. Even if you can handily afford to donate the $50 or whatever it takes to get them up and running, treating that money as a loan teaches them responsibility and the very important difference between gross revenue and profit.

My son and his friend set up a lemonade stand one sweaty day last June, right next to our neighborhood ball field. They made $190 selling oversized cups of organic strawberry and watermelon lemonade for $2 apiece—each garnished with a piece of fruit and a spring of mint. They were feeling very rich. . . until I pointed out that we spent $90 on organic strawberries, lemons, watermelon, sugar, bags of ice, mint, 2 pitchers, and really nice cups. I made them reimburse me for those expenses before they split the proceeds. They still made a nice profit—and had a real understanding of the meaning of profit. (And the next time out, they already had the pitchers so their profit was bigger!)

Q: What do you hope kids take away from How to Start Your Very First Business?

Sarah Parvis: I want enterprising kids to know that they are never too young to try out a good idea. If you enjoy making something and think others might want to buy it, or if you can offer a service that other people need, go for it! And don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may be shocked by how willing and helpful your parents, teachers, friends, and neighbors can be once you’ve shown them that you are serious about baking dog treats, sewing scarves in your school colors, designing websites, or whatever your business is.

Warren Buffett: When developing a business idea, a kid (or an adult) should focus on answering the question “What does your customer want?” A business that meets or exceeds a customer’s wants, through product or customer service or whatever it may be, is already set up for success. Success-whether it’s selling your first cup of lemonade, mowing your first lawn, or booking your first babysitting job—breeds more success.

How to Start Your Very First Business (Warren Buffett's Secret Millionaires Club) by Julie Merberg and Sarah Parvis

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