Mind Your Own Business: Teen Edition

Mind Your Own Business: Teen Edition

When I was a teenager, I was constantly looking for ways to make money. I was definitely the 15-year-old hosting a lemonade stand alongside the 5-year-old who was also… hosting a lemonade stand. Other than the embarrassment factor, it just wasn’t a good business decision. There was no demand for lemonade! Besides, hers was fresh-squeezed and mine was the remains of a Country Time tub found in the back of the pantry. My point? I could have had a way more profitable summer had I picked something that I was good at and used it to fulfill a need in the community.

If you’re finding yourself low on cash and an allowance isn’t enough, start your own part-time business. Kids and teens have been doing it for years, so now it’s your turn to try. Here’s some advice on getting started…

  • Pick your product: Is there a need for a specific product or service in your neighborhood or community? What are you good at?
  • Think of your customers: Who could use your business? Make a list of people you know that may like your product. Then brainstorm groups of people whom you may not know, but they would be good customers.
  • Logistics: This is the “how” of the business. How are you going to make your product or execute your service? How are you going to tell people about your business? How are you going to make money?
  • Finances: How much do you need to get started? How much is your product worth? You’ll have to do some math and research to find out what price would make you competitive, but also make the job profitable. If the business becomes successful or you have a lot of money coming and going, consider opening a checking account just for this purpose.
  • Ask for help: Enlist Mom and Dad in planning your business. They can help you work out any kinks and give advice along the way. After all, they do have more work experience than you. Their opinion and network of friends can really help you get started.
  • Guarantee your work: It may help you to write a mission statement. This tells potential customers what your goal is and what you can promise them as a client. If you are offering a repeated service, you may want to create a written contract that would be signed for each new job. Cue Mom or Dad’s help on this one.
  • Advertise: Print fliers, mailbox inserts or door hangers. Consider making a Facebook page or even a personal web site. Make sure that whatever materials you create you are consistent with your pricing and offers. Share any credibility or experience you have— make people want to choose you! Once you have a few satisfied customers, ask them to share your information with others (you can even make your own business cards for easy referrals!). Have fun with your advertising, but remember to be professional. Just like a job résumé, this may be their first impression of you.
  • Get moving: Buy your supplies and get prepared for business. If you’re selling a homemade creation, it would be a good idea to make a few samples to give away or even just use as a showpiece. It’s important that new customers find your product appealing, so if possible, show them! If you’re selling a service, do a few treatments for family or friends and ask them to spread the word about your good job.

You will learn that word of mouth is KEY when running a business. So keep those customer comments positive and handle any sour situations quickly. This part-time business may just be a cool way to make some spare cash, or it could turn into something way more. Check out these incredible success stories from other teens and kids:

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  • avatarPost by AmandaC on January 31st, 2011
    Amanda is a former Customer Service Representative for Central National Bank. In 2009, she graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in strategic communication and moved from finance to a marketing and public relations firm. She loves her new job and stops in from time to time to say hello to her old bank friends.

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