With the struggling economy, competitive college admissions and the high cost of paying for a higher education, most people aren’t surprised by the recent surge of young entrepreneurs. In fact, some experts, like business journalist Donna Fenn, believe “It’s the perfect storm for a youth entrepreneur revolution,” since this generation knows how to turn their own needs into commodities other teens want in a simple and cost-efficient way.
Check out the slideshow to learn more about teens who started their own businesses, and watch videos about young entrepreneurs below.
"I started my entrepreneurial venture when I was in eighth grade. I started selling business cards to teachers and staff at my middle school. I eventually started doing computer repair and services when I was old enough to drive in high school and all throughout college, I worked to grow my business to what it is today.
We now have over 100 clients and deal with a wide variety of issues and solutions. I'm now 23 and love having my business and the freedom it provides."
Some Tips From Jason:
"Don't let anyone hold you back -- so many people are apprehensive about starting a business because of the risks involved...there is NO better time than now to start. While being young does provide some small obstacles to overcome, it does provide a huge benefit...no debt. When you are debt free, it is way easier to build and grow a business.
People say 'well the economy is so bad right now'...that is an excuse...you are in the same economy as every one else no matter what the time period...sure there are people struggling...but there are also a lot of people excelling and profiting. Remember to stay positive and not focus on negative things -- there are always two sides to anything.
Parents can be a huge setback sometimes -- so many parents just want what's best for you, along with stability. As I think we all know, job security doesn't exist anymore. It's my personal belief to take your life and career into your own hands and build something great.
If you're serious about starting or growing your business as a teen, you might face some setbacks as far as parents agreeing with you and your motives...just try to listen to them and take their advice, but don't let it hold you back from starting something great."
-- Jason McAninch, Founder of J-TEK
"I started Pre-Wrap when I was 12 and am now 17 and looking for colleges. It's has been a great learning experience for our whole family. Here's our story.
A couple of tips:
1. If you are looking for a product and can't find it, realize that there's a good chance someone else is looking, too. We started our business because we couldn't find pre-wrap locally and figured out that other people were having the same problem.
2. Have an adult to work with. Teens can't legally enter into contracts and need an adult for many things -- a bank account, a credit card, an eBay account, etc.
3. Don't let being young stop you. Everyone likes a teen entrepreneur and most people want to support you. Teens have a good idea of what's hot and what's not. Listen to your gut feelings."
-- Tessa Smolinski, Founder of Pre-Wrap
"I'm 23 and I started my cosmetics company, Cliche Cosmetics, right after High School. I went to Cardinal Gibbons in Fort Lauderdale. (They used to play Channel One for us every morning, keep up the great work!)
Anyway, the best advice I can give is don't give up! You will be told 'no' a million times before you make it and even after. You have to think that for every no that you get, you are getting closer to that 'yes.'
Also, you have to be different. You can't just be another company or you'll get lost in the mix, what are you doing that is different and better than everyone else? If you have a great product, it will sell, you just have to find out how.
-- Jessica Lighter, Founder of Cliche Cosmetics
"I started my business in high school when I was 17, five years later, now it has not only put me through college (last semester right now), this year I have people working under me.
I started with one web-design client, and did a great job, and networked myself. My entire client base has been built on word-of-mouth.
The best advice I can give any young entrepreneur is to over deliver and make sure their customer is happy as possible. There is nothing better than word of mouth."
-- Monty Mathisen, Founder of Mathisen Media
"I am 17, I am the teen author of the best selling book The Guys, the Roses & the Regrets and I am also the CEO of my own magazine which is in its beginning stages.
As far as tips for taking a business into adulthood I am not quite there yet, but as far as making a business successful here are my tips:
1. Have a Good Team. No matter how smart or business savvy you are you cannot create a successful business alone, create a team that will work with you to make your business a success. I have a board of advisers which includes CEO's, best-selling authors and magazine publishers who help guide me through the ups and downs of business. A good team is invaluable.
2. Have Clear Goals and Make Them Happen. To make a business work there has to be a sequence so that means set your goals and stick to them. Make sure your goals move your business forward and then get your team to help you keep achieving those goals.
3. Be Persistent. In life and in business sometimes things are not going to work out and you have to carry on regardless of rejection. If you truly believe in your business when something goes wrong figure it out and move on. Running a successful business is hard not everything is going to be given to you on a silver platter but if you're persistent and push on through your business can be a success!"
--Grace Hatton, Author, www.gracehatton.com
"I post reviews on movies, activities, books, restaurants and more. It is a one man operation and I do all of the day-to-day activities for it. The website is www.KidCriticUSA.com."
Advice from Lane:
"Always start early so you have more experience."
"Be yourself and put yourself out for your customers, showing that you are a dedicated businessman/woman and you are passionate about your business may make them more interested."
--Lane Sutton, Writer and Founder of KidCriticUSA.com
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"My tips for teens that want to establish a business that they can carry into adulthood would be:
1. Solve a problem that is TRULY and personally important to you. If you sit down and think about your 'passion,' what you are good at, what you would never get tired of doing, what will make you the most money, that will seldom work. So instead keep a little journal for 30 days. Everyday try to make a list of the things you complain about or that upset you when you see them happen.
You will find that it is some pattern or connection and in providing that solution this is most likely the thing you are passionate about. If you can solve a problem and find the people who need the solution you will make money. If you have not heard of your business idea, create it.
2. 'Live It' verses, 'Learn It.' There is no formula for creating a 'successful' business. Ask 100 people what was the second thing they did after they decided to start a business and you could get 100 different answers. No answer will be right or wrong. Real entrepreneurs know that business or entrepreneurship is not a course or a class. It is a level of consciousness.
There are no requirements to start in terms of age, race, education or amount of money you have. It is simply saying you are an entrepreneur and then learning to see everything and everyone around you as a tool to your success and not an obstacle to it.
3. Own Your Life. Start a business with the mindset that you are in fact, 'owning your life.' Adults often speak of teens and their impact in future tense when they need to be speaking in Present Perfect Tense. They say, 'Keep doing what you are doing and one day you will be a successful leader.' That is false.
One day is today. You ARE already a successful leader. The reality is as a teen you have already overcome a tremendous amount of challenges and personal hardships that you don’t realize yet. You have the ability to influence, you have social capital and you have the power to do whatever you want to today. If you can't confidently speak it, you can't create it.
So from Day 1 you need to know that you have value even if you don’t feel you have 'experience.' Create your hourly price based on the value, the vision and the freshness you bring to the relationship and not based on your experience. And once you come up with that price per hour add a zero. That is how much you are worth at minimum."
--Shonika Proctor, Founder of Renegade CEOS
"The TEEN Principle is a great way for a youth to find a business idea and build it into an enterprise.
T- Talent. Everyone has a gift. Look inside of you and find out what you do best and think of ways that you can turn this into an enterprise.
E- Energy. Whatever business you decide to start you have to have passion for it so that you will want to keep going through the good and bad times.
E- Execution. You have to have a plan for your business. In life you either make something happen or react to what is happening.
N- Nurture. Your business is your life. The more you know and invest in it the more you grow. Keep working in your business and plant seeds into others so that you will have a network that will always be there to help you.
I have over 15 years of working with and motivating teens and college students. I started a blog, 'Buisness In College,' to help promote students that have started businesses."
--Derrick Hayes, Author and Motivator, www.BusinessInCollege.com