On the other hand, Lucas, who has been very successful with a lawn mowing business, does not plan to mow grass the rest of his life. However, he shared with me recently that what he is currently learning about customer service, scheduling, taxes, and hiring employees will be extremely beneficial in his future. Lucas is studying mechanical engineering at the University of Cincinnati and plans to operate his own engineering firm some day. I have no doubt he will be a very successful adult entrepreneur. 

Become Motivated to Learn More

Learning can be described as “making a connection between old information and new information.” If a student can tie new things he is learning to the “old information” he gathered from running a micro business, it makes learning easier. 

For example, Phil was only 15 years old when he had to learn about paying taxes and record keeping in order to run his business. Now he is a college student majoring in business. He recently emailed me to say he took his first Accounting course and remembered what I had taught him as a teenager about reading financial statements. He was connecting his new information in college with old information he had learned from running his micro business. 

While in high school, Emily found she enjoyed teaching beginning piano students. She decided to continue learning more about piano pedagogy (teaching piano) and is pursuing a teaching certificate from The Royal Conservatory in Canada. Her micro business experience prompted her to learn more about teaching music.

These students were motivated to learn because acquiring knowledge and skills would enhance their micro businesses. They may even find motivation to study subjects that are challenging because they see the connection to their passion or the usefulness of what they might learn.

Influence Society and Alter History

Running a micro business may start out being about making money, but it can become so much more than that. Micro business owners today are the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. They will be the creative thinkers who will mold and shape our society. A new term has sprung up recently: social entrepreneur. This term implies that the entrepreneur is motivated to change society by tackling important issues such as poverty, illiteracy, or illness. Thus, a great way to improve our world can begin by learning to run a micro business as a teenager.

In their book, Do Hard Things, Alex and Brett Harris share the story of Conner Cress, who was bothered by the lack of clean water in Africa. He had an idea to make bracelets, sell them, and use the profits to dig wells in Africa. Conner and his friends formed an organization called Dry Tears and sold 3,500 bracelets, T-shirts, and water bottles. They raised over $20,000, with 90% of those funds coming from other teenagers. 

One homeschooled teenager started a drama ministry. Although it had a nonprofit focus, she had to learn many business skills while staging and promoting performances. She wrote her own plays and won national awards. Her work eventually led her to a career with Youth for Christ’s drama ministry, where she is a change agent for a better world.  

As a final encouragement to teenagers who want to start a micro business, here are some words from homeschool leader and teacher, Andrew Pudewa, of the Institute for Excellence in Writing: “I am entirely convinced that students who have been educated in a way that promotes initiative, real thinking, and ingenuity should also have some practical and explicit training in how to apply their talents to starting a business . . . . We need a nation of entrepreneurial, mission-driven, prepared, young adults; it’s never too soon (or too late) to start nurturing this aptitude.”

Carol Topp, CPA, helps people, especially teenagers, start their own small businesses (MicroBusinessforTeens.com). She has authored several books, including Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out, and the Micro Business for Teens book series. Carol lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two daughters, where she runs her micro business from home.

Publication date: October 17, 2012