Leanna Archer, an honor student in Islip, N.Y., was 8 when she first tried to make a batch of homemade, natural hair products just like her mom's. Soon she began selling them in the neighborhood and then to stores.
Today the 13-year-old Leanna is the owner and CEO of Leanna's Inc., which sells hair-oil treatments, shampoos, conditioners and deep conditioners. Her products are sold online and in stores across the country, and she expects 2008 revenues to reach $150,000 -- up from $45,000 in 2007.
In October 2008, Leanna became the youngest CEO to ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ. This kid is making $5,000 a month
But while Leanna is clearly a high achiever, she's hardly alone. Often inspired by their parents, an increasing number of kids are starting their first businesses while they're still doing homework.
"Generation Y entrepreneurs enjoy taking risks," says Sean C. Rush, president and chief executive of Junior Achievement, an organization dedicated to inspiring young people to become successful in business. "Younger would-be entrepreneurs, even as young as 8 years old, indicate an interest in starting their own businesses, in order to use their skills and abilities, to be their own boss and to build something for the future." Slide show: 10 entrepreneurs under 18
Leanna works seven days a week to keep her business going. On weekends, she makes and packages the products at home with her parents' help. During the week -- after completing her homework -- she packs boxes for the orders she receives daily on her Web site.
"I want to let kids know that if I can do it, they can too," Leanna says, adding that poet Maya Angelou is one of her role models. "I want to go to schools all over the U.S. and let kids know that they can become anything they want to be. They just have to believe."
Family and friends can be key to unlocking a child's inner entrepreneur. Real-estate developer Frank McKinney, for example, teaches his daughter that in order to succeed, you have to make work fun -- and think young. Everyday he shows her how: His office is in a tree house outside their Florida home. Go inside this millionaire's tree house
For Alexis Holmes it was her godfather, chef Tim Winn, who sparked her business interest. In 2005, Holmes attended a cooking school at McGavock High School in Nashville, Tenn., where Winn was teaching a continuing education class.