Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Encouraging Young Entrepreneurs - Micro Business For Teens

Micro Business for Teens Review
For almost as long as he's been able to talk, my son knew what job he wanted when he grew up (a trashman), but several years ago he began to modify his dream and he is determined to own his own (trash) business. He might not be able to start a waste management company at this time, but I thought it would be a great idea for him to learn about how to start his own business now. That's why I thought it very fitting that we were given the opportunity to review Micro Business for Teens.
Micro Business for Teens Review
Micro Business for Teens is a curriculum consisting of two books and a workbook that guides teens through the process of starting and running their own micro business. The first book, Starting A Micro Business, advises teens in getting their business off the ground, with information on everything from coming up with a business idea to finding the start-up capital to get going without going into debt. The second book, Running A Micro Business, goes further into managing a small business while keeping up with schoolwork, sports, and family commitments; and addresses issues such as time management and marketing strategies. The accompanying Micro Business for Teens Workbook helps tie it all together, with review questions and worksheets to help teens write their business plan and manage their finances.

Author Carol Topp, CPA, operates an accounting practice specializing in small business start-ups, and she is also a speaker and presenter on money management and business start-ups with an emphasis on helping teens and families. She has also written numerous articles for homeschooling magazines. Her own daughters owned micro businesses, and through them and other contacts, she met dozens of other teens who had started micro businesses, and was encouraged to write these books.
Micro Business for Teens Review Micro Business for Teens Review
How did we use it? We received both books and the workbook in the eBook version, and the simplest way to get started was just to dive in and start reading. There are assignments in the workbook for each of the chapters in the two books. Some are comprehension questions from the reading material, and some are practical worksheets for estimating the start-up cost or operating expenses for the business we're considering starting.
Micro Business for Teens Review
I got Landon started with it, assuring him that he did not need to come up with a business to start right now, but to start working on ideas. His ultimate goal is to own his own trash company. Well, that's probably not going to be a workable micro business idea at this time, but learning the principles of starting and running a business is a great step towards that goal! It turned out that Kennady was really interested in this too, as she has a couple of possible micro business ideas in mind. She has talked quite seriously about owning her own bakery and coffee shop, or becoming a photographer or artist, so she needs to learn to business smarts as well. The two of them worked together on brainstorming ideas that they might be able to turn into a micro business, and eventually settled on an idea that they are using as their model - they are considering purchasing and planting juneberry bushes and selling their produce. Since juneberries are a rather unusual item in our area, they are thinking about how they can create a niche market and raise interest - maybe even developing a couple of recipes for using the berries. If we can provide and sell a small recipe booklet for using the berries, that should help us reach more potential customers as well as provide an additional income.
The kids learned that some of their ideas carried more risk than others - either because of liability concerns or because of regulations for food preparation - and that some ideas might not be suitable for our market. They were able to work on a business plan; calculate what their start-up cost would be; think about advertising; and how to find or expand their market base. I love that in the initial chapters, they were encouraged to come up with any and all ideas, no matter how far-fetched, and think outside the box. Some of their "silly" ideas were very creative and a couple of them were actually fantastic ideas - just not for young teens with limited start-up capital. Who knows - those ideas might become a real business for them somewhere down the road!
  
The business plan we are looking at has us purchasing and planting our berry bushes this summer in order to have a harvest in the spring. So we have plenty of time to plan ahead and be well prepared if we go ahead with this idea. That said, it means that we've spent much more time in Starting A Micro Business than in the second book, Running A Micro Business. In the second book, Landon has read all the chapters and worked on much of the workbook using estimates and ideas for the business we're considering. 
Even though their idea is still in the idea stages, Landon and Kennady are thinking through how they can manage their time and how to split the responsibilities of running the business, and they are planning their business cards and fliers, and where they can advertise. They are thinking like entrepreneurs (that is a hard word to spell! LOL) and investors rather than just as consumers, which I think is very important. They are cooperating and collaborating, and figuring out how to use their individual strengths to make a joint venture work. And if they go ahead with this business plan, they will need to keep working together, and get some help from the rest of the family as well. I do hope they decide to start their business - or maybe another one - but whatever plan they settle on, I think it's going to be a very valuable experience for them!
What we liked best:
  • short, easy-to-read chapters written conversationally to the student
  • lots of encouragement and ideas - and examples of other students who have been successful
  • presented from a Biblical standpoint - for example, the chapter on start-up financing emphasized what the Bible says about avoiding debt. Throughout the book and workbook, Biblical views on finances, stewardship, and ethical practices are referenced.
  • very practical and down-to-earth
What I need to mention:
  • usually I prefer school materials in printed format because it's just easier to use, in my opinion. In this case, I think having the workbook in eBook format was better because we could print multiple copies of something like the initial business brainstorming pages so the kids could get lots of ideas down on paper and start working several of them through. 
  • I noticed that the ideas for starting up a website included information suggesting setting up a blog on a site that no longer supports individual blogs (as far as I know). 
Our bottom line: Even though my kids haven't started their business - YET - these books and the workbook have been a practical tie-in to the Economics course Landon has been working on, and have provided guidance, information, and inspiration for Landon and for Kennady to consider launching their own business. Although I will include this coursework with Landon's Economics credit, if he participates in the starting and running of a micro business during his high school years, I will definitely give him additional credit and call the course Small Business Entrepreneurship or something like that. I believe that students should learn how to work for someone else during their high school years, but I also think it's ideal for students to know what happens on the management end of a business before they enter the full time work force. Micro Business for Teens makes that kind of experience possible even in families that don't already own or operate their own business.  Simply put, this is a wonderful resource for teens, young adults, and even for parents.

Micro Business for Teens Review
Would you like to foster entrepreneurial spirit in your homeschool? Here's what you need to know:
Visit the website: http://MicroBusinessforTeens.com/

Pricing: The books Starting A Micro Business and Running A Micro Business are available in paperback format for $9.95 each; as a pdf Ebook for $4.95 each; or for Kindle for $4.95 each. The Micro Business for Teens Workbook is available as a paperback for $14.95 or as a pdf Ebook for $9.95. See the Micro Business for Teens Product page for all products and prices, and to see sample pages.

Recommended Ages: middle school and high school age students

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3 comments:

Jennifer aGlimpseOfOurLife said...

I'd never heard of Juneberries before so looked them up. We have been picking a lot of berries lately, and blueberries which my dad planted when I was a teenager will be ripe soon.

Kym T said...

they go by a lot of different names, apparently! Where I grew up, we called them saskatoons and I LOVE them. I thought it was only a western thing, but found out a few years ago that serviceberry/juneberry is basically the same thing. I would love to have my own supply of saskatoons, but whether we have enough self-discipline to turn it into a business remains to be seen. ;-)

Carol Topp CPA said...

Thank you for the review. I appreciate it!

I liked reading "They are thinking like entrepreneurs and investors rather than just as consumers." That's something they will carry into adulthood!

Sorry for the out of date information on setting up a website in the Workbook. Seems like websites can go out of date very quickly! Thanks for mentioning it. I'll look into doing an update.

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