What I'm Reading

What I am Reading: Starting a Micro Business for Teens

I am blessed to be part of a large homeschool support group in Western North Carolina. Our group has been vital in our homeschool life across the board… socially, academically, emotionally. I can say with confidence that our homeschool story would be much different had we not found this group.

Every year we take part in our group’s enrichment classes. They are parent taught which is really cool because we have so many gifted people in our group with a variety of interests. Our classes serve babies through high school. Although my degree is in Early Childhood Education, I have discovered over the last few years how much I love middle and high schoolers. They stretch me out of my comfort zone. It takes much brain power to keep up with them academically.

As long as I can remember, I have loved looking for ways to creatively make money. As a young child, I sold lemonade on the corner by my house. There was a bus stop for the MARTA bus (Atlanta’s public transportation) right by our house. I would hold my sign high when they would come down the street. The driver would often stop and the passengers would buy lemonade from me. I babysat all through middle and high school. I had a card I carried in my pocket with my rates. I took pride in my babysitting business and gained quite a reputation through the community.

Since being married, I have been a church secretary, a cake decorating teacher, a seamstress, a graphic designer for a magazine, and many other odd jobs. I love to learn new skills and put them to work. When I was trying to decide what class I wanted to teach this past Spring, I remembered one of my son’s goals for school a couple of years ago. He wanted to “make dem monies”… that is for real what he wrote when I asked him to write down his goals… “make dem monies.”

Most teens I know would like to have disposable income so I decided to teach a class that would equip and empower them to do so. I used many resources to pull this class together including the book, Starting a Micro Business for Teens by Carol Topp.

Starting a micro business will help teenagers earn money while learning a lot. 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, pitfalls to avoid and resources to get a teenager started making money running their own micro business.

Book Description

The book is very well written, concise, and easy to follow. It is practical and covers many areas of business that teens (or any one for that matter) should consider when first starting.

The book is geared for teens. The expecations are realistic. Teens will not go into this book thinking they will open a restaurant and become the next Gordon Ramsey. The author provides many examples of real teens who have had real and successful business ventures.

I was not familiar with the term “micro business” before reading this book. I assumed it was the same as a small business. I was wrong. The difference has to do with the number of employees and the amount of money required to start. A business that requires $50,000 or less to start and has fewer than 10 employees is considered a micro business. Go figure.

The book is filled with practical information including how to start a business with little to no money, usings the skills you already possess, working with purpose to learn and earn, creating a business plan, avoiding scams, and so much more. There is a list with TONS of ideas to help get the creative juices flowing with micro business possibilities.

This book is not for children who are just playing at running a business and it is not for young adults who are wanting to be entrepreneurs. This book takes into consideration the specific needs of teen who still need to do homework and chores and balance a social life.

I was able to use this book (as well as the course by the same author offered through Schoolhouse Teachers) to design my class for 6th- 12th graders. We spent the first couple of weeks learning the basics about starting a micro business. I used Carol Topp’s book as a guide to teach them the difference between offering a good and a service. We talked through logistical things as they began brainstorming. Things like transportation, money needed to begin, advertising, client base, etc.

I showed them a clip from YouTube of the top ten weirdest sales pitches from the show Shark Tank. That got some laughs! My favorite is the guy who wants to “draw a cat for you.” He came up as an example over and over.

We practiced something called “elevator pitches.” Once they had their ideas written and had started their business plan, we pretended they only had the amount of time it takes for an elevator to get from the ground floor to the top of a high rise to convice an investor to buy into the idea (about 1-2 minutes). We also played the game “Snake Oil” to help learn to creatively pitch business ideas. If you haven’t played it, you really should.

Once the students came up with ideas and created basic business plans, they began to design flyers to advertise their businesses. We used the free version of Canva for this assignment.

I had a good friend who is a brilliant entrepreneur come as a guest speaker to the class. She echoed (without even intending to) many of the concepts from the Starting a Micro Business for Teens book.

The class was a hit. Not all the ideas were sustainable. However, we had a dog walker, a babysitter, a make up artist, and a chicken whisperer who really thought through what it would be like to offer their services to the community at large and I wish them the best.

Starting a Micro Business for Teens by Carol Topp is a fantastic resource. It is only 116 pages and easy to read. The book was published by Ambassador Publishing in 2012. There are two other books in the series including Running a Micro Business for Teens and Money and Taxes in a Micro Business. The books are only $4.95 each on Kindle.

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate with Amazon. Purchases made through links on this post provide our family with a small commission. Thank you!

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