Okay, maybe it’s somewhere between having a neighborhood lemonade stand and working at a real job, so what should a young teen do? Many states have laws that limit when teens can get a job and how long they are allowed to work per week, so how are they expected to make the money for clothes, dates, cars, etc.? The answer: Go into business – become an entrepreneur.
Have confidence in your teen to succeed. I know it can be done because I lived it - by the time I was six-years-old I sold home-made body lotion and hand-painted rocks as book-ends door-to-door. At age seven, I was carrying business cards reading ''21st Century CEO.'' At eight, I became co-founder of Urban Neighborhood Enterprise Economic Club (U.N.E.E.C.) on Chicago's tough Southside. It took hard work, an ability to listen and a persistent drive with smart decisions to succeed.
Before going into a list of ideas for your teen’s new business venture, let's go over a few rules to ensure some level of success:
A teen must be able to promote something of value to potential customers and clients.
A teen must be able to make a profit with the business. They need to be able to set prices - and stick to it (and be able to collect money) - above their costs.
A teen must know one of the most important rules of marketing: satisfy the customer! They must offer a quality service or product to build customers.
A teen must avoid serious errors - in actions of judgment - in running the business. If they do something wrong, regardless of whose fault, it can cause anger, disappointment, or bad publicity. Make sure they face disappointment immediately and learn to correct it.
A teen must be prepared to work long hours at establishing the business. It’s called work for a reason – he/she needs to be dedicated to establish the business.
The basic rules are not meant to scare off aspiring entrepreneurs but rather to facilitate success. Running a business is great real-world experience for the young teen making money but also to gain valuable knowledge skills that can be presented on resumes and college applications.
So, what are some ideas for a business beyond a lemonade stand or babysitting?
-A cleaning service. Maybe they hate doing chores at home, but getting paid for doing them is completely different! The teen entrepreneur could offer complete housecleaning services, or specialize in one or more areas, such as attic/basement/garage cleanups.
-A yard maintenance service. There is always something that needs to be done…mowing lawns and weed control in the spring and summer, raking leaves in the fall, and shoveling snow and planting for the spring in the winter.
-A car-detailing business. With so many people working multiple jobs and having such busy lifestyles, very few people have the time to really take care of their cars - and the teen entrepreneur could offer a weekly or monthly service of washing, waxing, vacuuming, etc.
-A pet sitting service. Typically, more of a summer business when people tend to go on vacation, but they might be able to have a year-round business by offering pet walking, bathing, cleaning, etc. services.
-A PC tutor/Web site development service. Is your teen a whiz with computers and the Web? Well, many adults are not, and computer savvy teen entrepreneurs can build a good business helping people learn to use PCs and develop Web sites for their families - or other business owners.
-A painting service. If your teen has some experience - or there is a few of their friends that want to go in business – your teen might consider a painting business. People are always renovating…and painting exteriors in the warm summer months and interiors during the colder months.
-A freelancing service. If the teen entrepreneur is truly gifted in certain areas, such as writing, art, drawing, or photography, consider starting a freelance service where they sell their unique talents to various neighbors, businesses and media outlets.
Remember, entrepreneurs achieve their success with determination, smart decisions and hard work. Keep an open mind with a positive attitude, the rewards are worth it!