•   Focus on customer service. Arrive on time, be neat, clean up after yourself, and say hello, please, and thank you. Do not forget to smile! These polite gestures can greatly impress a customer.

     •   Be unique. Many teenagers babysit, but maybe you also wash the dishes or bring a craft for the kids to make. Think of ways that you can offer something special.

     •   Charge a competitive rate. Many times, a teenage micro business owner can undercut the competition by offering a lower rate. My daughter was 14 when she offered piano lessons at $8 an hour—less than half of what adults were charging. She had so many interested customers that she had to turn away students.

     •   See your age as an advantage instead of a deterrent. You have more energy to wash cars, mow grass, and babysit children than many adults. Use your energy to be an enthusiastic business owner. You also have up-to-date skills on computers and technology. Offer your knowledge for a price, and you will have a micro business up and running in no time!

     •   Learn all you can about your field and about running a business. Doctors and accountants keep learning about their professions, and so should you. Read a book like Bringing Up Boys by Dr James Dobson if you provide childcare, learn Quickbooks (small business accounting software) if you do bookkeeping, and learn how to create a Wordpress blog if you design Web sites. Read some Web sites or books about running a small business. Start with these: Teen Entrepreneur: www.entrepreneur.com/tsu, Small Business Administration Teen Business Link: www.sba.gov/teens, 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy from the American Institute of CPAs: www.360financialliteracy.org  

*This article published on January 22, 2010.

Carol Topp, CPA, is an accountant and the mother of teenagers. She consults with teenagers launching micro businesses, presents workshops, teaches classes, and has written several articles on business start-ups. Her Web site (www.MicroBusinessForTeens.com) has resources, articles, and links to help micro business owners get started, be successful, and learn a lot. 

This article was originally published in the Jan/Feb '10 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. Now, get a FREE subscription to the HSE Digital Edition! Visit www.HSEmagazine.com/digital today to get immediate access to the latest edition!