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Monday, April 11, 2011

Teen-trepreneur: Help Your Teen Start a Business

Starting a Micro Business
With the economy limping towards recovery and unemployment rates still high, the teen population is finding it harder and harder to find work because adults are competing for the same minimum wage jobs. But there’s an alternative for your teen—starting a micro business.

What is a micro business? It is a very small, one-person business that you can start easily and quickly with what you already know or own. Students can spend as much time running a micro business as they wish and can even close it down during busy times.

The best advantage for teens to own a micro business is that it not only brings in extra cash (often more than imagined), but students end up learning a great deal about business, money and themselves. It may lead to an entrepreneurial life or at the very least, prepare students for higher learning opportunities.

Bestselling author, Carol Topp CPA, wrote Starting a Micro Business as a step-by-step tool to help teenagers earn money while learning how to start their own business. A micro business is simple to start, usually home-based, low risk, educational and easy for a busy student to run. This book offers ideas, a business plan, starting with no debt, pitfalls to avoid and resources to get a teenager started making money running their own micro business.

In an excerpt from her book, Carol lists 10 ideas that any teenager can start this spring to help them make some money of their own, gain responsibility and a sense of accomplishment:

  1. House cleaning: Offer to tackle large jobs like washing windows, moving furniture, etc. Many people are grateful for a young, strong teenager to help them with heavy lifting. What is easy for you might be very difficult for them, especially if they are an older person.
  2. Routine house cleaning: Some customers need regular house cleaning and may hire you on a weekly or monthly basis. Don't wait for them to ask: offer to come weekly or twice a month and see what they say.
  3. Attic cleaning: Offer to help people do a job that they put off, such as cleaning an attic.
  4. Garage cleaning: A big job that can earn you big bucks!
  5. Yard cleanup: Offer to trim bushes, pull weeds, plant flowers and spread mulch to spruce up a yard.
  6. Car and van cleaning: People spend a lot of time in their automobiles and their cars and vans need frequent cleaning. Melissa gladly paid to get her van cleaned inside and out every week because her four children could really make a mess in it. You can make some cash by offering to clean a van inside and out.
  7. Organize. Organize a house, playroom or garage. Charge the customer for any bins, tubs and labels that you purchase for them and then add on the value of your time. Take before and after photos to use on your advertising fliers.
  8. Declutter: Do you love HGTV shows on organization? You might be able to find someone to hire you to declutter their house like you see on TV.
  9. Garage sales: Advertise, organize and run a garage sale for your neighbors. Get several neighbors to participate together and really earn the bucks!
  10. eBay sales: Offer to sell your neighbors' stuff on eBay and take a cut for yourself. Combine the decluttering, garage sale and eBay tasks into a full package to help your customers profit from their excess stuff.
Personally, I thought those were all great ideas that I wish I could start my pre-teens doing - curse you child labor laws!  [NOTE: Of couse I'm kidding about that, ever since we've moved here to the mid-Atlantic region our 7 and 9 year olds have been working daily 10 hour shifts in a West Virginia coal mine. They may miss a day or two due to the black lung - but I digress.]

Carol is a serious author who packs tons of valuable, easy-to-understand information in all of her books. If you're curious about her expertise and background, here's a bio blurb I lifted from her web site:  

Carol Topp, CPA advises teenage business owners though her Micro Business for Teens book series. Carol’s day job is accountant to business owners, and she enjoys teaching teenagers to succeed beyond their dreams. Students appreciate how she shares what they need to know in clear and helpful lessons.

If you comment on this blog post by Friday April 22nd you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a complete set of Carol’s teen business book series absolutely free – see the titles listed below.  The drawing will be held on Monday April 25th. So help equip your young adult with the real world knowledge and skills they need to succeed, simply by commenting on this blog – you can share the micro business idea that you think might be the best bet for your teen!

Good luck and don’t forget to comment!

 Starting a Micro Business 
Running a Micro Business

Money and Taxes in a Micro Business

Micro Business for Teens Workbook


  1. Oh, great info here! I will share with friends.

    I suppose wives are excluded from said drawing?

  2. The Wall Street Journal had a great piece last year advocating the idea of investing in a kid's business vs paying for college. I'm not sure I'm totally there but it brings up and interesting idea in developing the business acumen of kids. As for me, I never had allowance but worked by the hour staring when I was 10, teaching me the value of work and personal investment
    My oldest son (11) thirsts for a path to make his own money, so this post is a great inclusion to this conversation.

    Kimber VanRy

  3. Getting teens into the entrepreneurial mindset early is truly something they can carry with them for a lifetime. When all else fails, you can depend on yourself.

  4. @Kimber, thanks for taking the time comment especially with your personal experience as a young entreprenuer - I think your son has a great role model! Also, thanks for the tip on the WSJ story - I'll track that down.

  5. @Angie, Thanks for stopping by and commenting - good luck on the UBC!!!

  6. Tor, your move south has removed one of the most lucrative job opportunities from your children, snow shoveling. We made a lot of cash doing this as kids, but I rarely see a kid outside shoveling anymore. Great blog, I hope to win and get my 11 year old off the couch.

  7. Great article! I'm always looking for good information to share with parents about their teens and this certainly qualifies :) Having two teens myself I appreciate it even more.


  8. Great blog! I am going to share this with my 14 yo son. He is always trying to figure out ways to make money. Unfortunately, living in the country makes it harder to get to neighbors.

  9. I love this! I remember quite a few teens in my high school class started businesses and they've turned into awesome, successful, adults!

  10. @Bill, no doubt! But I'll gladly have my girls step over a few dollars shovelling snow so they don't have to step in an icy sluch puddle.

  11. @Debbie, thanks so muche for checking out the blog and taking the time to post - it's greatly appreciated!

  12. @Tina, we lived in a rural country setting growing up so I sympathize with the problem. Hopefully, he'll find an opportunity fit!

  13. @Becky, I guess good habits are hard to break - thanks for taking the time to read and post here!

  14. Thank you Tor, for your kind words. I guess I accomplished my goal to create a helpful and realistic book to help teenagers start a business.

    You read the first book, Starting a Micro Business. It's followed by a second book Running a Micro Business and then a third book, Money and Taxes in a Micro Business. Students can read each book as needed and as their business grows.

    The Micro Business for Teens Workbook is designed for a student to apply what they read in the Starting and Running books and works great in a group or class setting.

    I taught 10 teenagers using the workbook last semester and we had a lot of fun. One boy recently told me he is making $100 a month giving guitar lessons.

    My website has sample pages and a Table of Contents for each book.

    Thanks for your help in spreading the word!

    Carol Topp, CPA
    Author Micro Business For Teens series

  15. @Carol, what a treat - I don't usually get best-selling authors commenting on my blog post! The book was great - you should check out the review I posted of it yesterday here and on Hubpages!

    BTW are you expecting to be entered in the drawing for a set of your own books ;-)

    Seriously, it's been an honor and pleasure playing a small part to spred the message!

  16. One of my daughters is really into doing anything possible to earn her own money. Her favorite TV show is Biz Kids on PBS. She talked her grandparents into using an empty barn next door. She then convinced her Dad to invest in a baby pig to help her get started. She knew it would have to be slaughtered to produce a profit, but didn't seem to mind.

    She took her profit from raising the pig and asked me to take her shopping. Most 13 year old girls would want to go to the mall to buy clothes. She wanted to go to the Tractor Supply Store. She said, "If I buy chickens I can make even more money selling the eggs."

    So she bought a dozen baby chickens, heat lamps, chicken feed, food and water dishes. She offered partnership to her sisters in exchange for turning the shared play house into a chicken coop. She patiently waited 6 months for the chickens to mature before they started to lay eggs. She now collects and sells about 11 dozen jumbo sized brown free range eggs a week.

  17. Hi everyone, I just heard back from the author (Carol Topp) that the winner of the collection of her books went to a comment below posted at another blog site. Feel free to go check it out, but thanks for commenting here!

    Winner: "Lady Dragon Keeper"
    comment was at Abi Buening's My Heart Belongs to Books