You may be surprised to find out that your teen has already considered what kind of business they might want to start.
My son was in the Cub Scouts and he always did really well going door-to-door selling “Gourmet” popcorn. As he got older I explained to him that people were not buying from him because they wanted expensive popcorn, they were buying it because they wanted to support and encourage the cute little neighbor boy. In his last year he was no longer little and far less cute. To my surprise he hired his younger brother Andre to do all the talking: “My brother Nick is in the Scouts and is trying to raise money for a big camping trip. If I help him raise enough he said he’d take me with him.” Nick sold more popcorn than any other kid in his entire troop that year. He then went on to paint neighborhood mailboxes and saved up enough to purchase a professional pressure washing set up. At 15 years old he’s now making more money than his teachers. Andre is still waiting to go camping.
Teens today are barraged with get-rich-quick-schemes and ideas for businesses. Some of those ideas may be more practical than others but the adage “if it sounds too good to be true it is” still rings true. You’ll need to help your teen weed through the good and the bad advice using your own experience as a guide. Encourage them that it is OK to start small and grow. As a matter of fact, that’s the key to success when starting a business as a teenager.
As adults we may know a few shortcuts but even those shortcuts took a lot of work to figure out. A good place to begin is with your teen’s interests and skills. Whatever it is they’re passionate about, brainstorm ways to turn it into a business. Love sports and good at writing? Start a blog and monetize it (fair warning…just writing amazing content won’t be enough. You’ll need to find products or services and use the blog as a way to drive traffic.
No matter what the product or service they ultimately decide on there will be a very specific process that the two of you can traverse together. Let’s take making and selling jewelry as an example. Just to get started, they’ll need:
- A product vision. How many styles will they make? Will there be different sizes? Different colors?
- A name for your business. Don’t fall in love with a name until you research and make sure it isn’t taken or too similar to another business. It should relate to the product or service and be memorable…and not too long.
- A logo. The logo sets the tone and will be what you design the website and all marketing materials around. So be mindful of the impression the business needs to leave with customers. You don’t need graphic design experience or know-how to make an amazing logo. There are several great resource for logo design (that are free!). Canva is a great place to start and there are thousands of templates for designing web pages, marketing flyers, social media posts…any kind of marketing material you’ll need.
- A URL: It should simply be the name of the business (www.jennysjewelry.com for example) and try to avoid hypens or other punctuation. When you are researching names, also do a search to make sure the URL is available (and not too expensive). You can usually get a URL for around $10 through GoDaddy, HostGator or WordPress (there are many more, but those 3 are our favorites).
- Learn about website SEO and keywords.
- Build the site. The #1 piece of advice for building a website is to completely plan it on paper first. How many/what pages do you need, what will the store look like? Shopify, Wix and SquareSpace are super easy to get started. WordPress is a little more complicated, but allows for more customization without coding. Let’s be honest, though, your teen is already going to know more than we ever will about setting up a site!
- Photograph the products.Set the style ahead of time and shoot each product consistently so that they look cohesive and appealing. You’ll use the photos of the products EVERYWHERE, so take the time to do it perfectly.
- Set up the e-commerce and online store.
- Set up and link social media accounts. Put together strategies and social media campaigns.
- Talk to local stores about trying out your products.
Because we know Teens are going to listen to anyone other than their parents…just buy these and sneak them on their bed:
This guide is the perfect place to start! The Teen Entrepreneur Toolbox will help teenagers:
– Learn what being an entrepreneur is all about
– Identify a business idea that is fun―and profitable
– Create a marketing plan that works
– Learn the basics of customer service
– Make smart money decisions once the cash starts coming in
What You Get:
* Teen Portfolio:
This is the heart of the Toolbox. The portfolio guides your teen through eight steps that will show them how to start and run a successful small business.
* Parent Guide:
If you’re wondering how you can help your teen along the way, the parent guide is your best friend. It not only shows you the text from the student portfolio, but also suggests practical ideas for guiding your teen through the eight steps of the Toolbox.
Anthony ONeal has a passion for helping teens achieve their dreams. In this twenty-minute video, Anthony walks teens through the Toolbox’s eight steps with the perfect mix of humor and common sense.
* Goal Tracker:
This poster is designed to keep teens on track with their goals. As the numbers grow, so will their confidence and sense of pride!
* Conversation Starters:
These Q&A flash cards can spark great conversations about the tougher parts of running a business. Discovering the answers is great, but quality time is an added benefit!
* Thank-You Cards:
Customers like a little appreciation. These notes are tangible ways teens can stay in touch with their customers and keep those connections strong.
* The Teen Entrepreneur Toolbox App:
Okay, so the app’s not actually in the Toolbox, but you can download it for free. Plus, the access code in the Toolbox lets you plug into even more great resources.