My oldest child graduates from our homeschool this year, so we have been doing a lot of talking and praying about what she felt the Lord had laid on her heart as the next step after high school. For the last couple of years it has become more and more clear that she really wanted to start a home-based business. When I had the opportunity to review Micro Business for Teens, I literally jumped (as in jumped up and down) at the chance. What a perfect fit for this season in our lives. Not only did they get the timing right, but they were incredibly generous, allowing us to review Starting a Micro Business, Running a Micro Business, and the Micro Business for Teens Workbook.
Although I plan to re-use these books with my teenage son and my other kids when they are older (and may even use them myself!!), May-May was the primary person using these books during the six week review period. She hasn't finished the books yet, because she is using them to truly create a working business plan that will be ready for launch this summer. These books aren't just theory for her, she is actively crunching the numbers for her very own business. Since these books are so pertinent to her right now, I thought I would let her tell you a little bit about them, and then I will break each book down for you. So without further ado, here is May-May:
"These books begin with helping you select a business. If you already have a basic idea of what your business is going to be, like I did, do the brainstorming part anyway. No matter what stage of business planning you are at, brainstorming brings up great ideas. I got some ideas to add on to what I was already planning on doing, and even a possible future business plan.
Another thing these books have helped me with so far is the problems I will have to deal with. I hadn't really thought about inventory, shipping costs, and sales taxes. But now I have a pretty good idea of how to deal with these and other problems.
The lessons in these books make things easy to understand, and it only takes a short amount of time to read and fill out the work book. But some things require a lot of thought, so I found it best to just take it at my own pace. I like to stop and think about stuff and do my research.
These books have really helped guide my plans for my business. It has made a long-time dream of mine much closer to reality, and I feel much more confident that I know what I am getting into. Thanks to these books, I now know what to think about and what research in order to finalize my business plans. I feel like I can definitely start a business this summer!"
(Isn't she great? Don't you just want to bottle her up and take her home? But maybe I am just a leettle bit biased...ahem.)
Let's take a brief look at the books. First we have Starting a Micro Business. A micro business falls somewhere between the lemonade stand type endeavors your younger kids use your money to fund and the small business start-ups that require adult status and a bank loan to pull off. A micro business is simple to start, has one worker who is also the owner, needs little start-up money, is usually home-based and allows you to learn and grow into it as you go. What you will find in Starting a Micro Business are real ideas for real teenagers to make real money. It goes way beyond baby sitting and lawn mowing.
In Starting a Micro Business, Carol Topp covers what a micro business is, ideas for micro businesses, pitfalls, the business plan, financing, and lots of tips to get you started. She is thorough, encouraging and offers lots of examples of other kids who successfully started a business.
I find her approach very refreshing. In the introduction, she talks about her frustration with books geared toward teens who want to start a business. Either the books were pathetically simple (like the lemonade stand, funded by mom) or they were outlandishly difficult for a teen who is still in school and has no startup money (like starting a restaurant). Often they featured genius kids who were intimidatingly successful. I agree with her. Many of the things I have seen left me wanting to crawl under a rock. The ideas were great, but so elaborate that there was no way a teen could do it alone while in school. I knew that if my entrepreneurially-minded kids were to follow those ideas, it would basically mean I was running a business for them and they were sitting back and reaping the cash. I was exhausted just thinking about it. What we needed was a business my teens could start and run virtually unassisted. In Starting a Micro Business, Carol Topp proves that it is not only possible for teens to start their own businesses, but she tells them how.
Running a Micro Business gets into the nitty gritty of running the business you started. It isn't enough just to have a great idea. Somehow, you'll have to give that idea legs and keep your business running on them. And somehow, you need to do it legally. In Running a Micro Business, Carol Topp teaches teens about sales, marketing and advertising, customer service, record keeping and book keeping, business software, Tax ID numbers, licensing and other legalities, business insurance, and even time management. You know, basically all those things that have always scared me when it comes to starting a business. They don't scare Carol Topp. Did I mention that Carol Topp is a CPA? Yep. She actually gets this stuff, and she makes it all simple and neat, so your teen can understand what is expected and do it.
The Micro Business for Teens Workbook is designed to be used with Starting a Micro Business and Running a Micro Business. Basically, you do the reading assignment from the companion books. It will be listed in the workbook. Then you fill out the workbook assignment. If your teen completes a chapter a week, it will take about 3 months to complete the workbook, but a highly motivated teen (aka: a kid who wants cash NOW) could complete it in much less time.
The workbook gives your teen a place to "think on paper". It takes your teen through the companion books step-by-step. When they complete the workbook, they will recognize their strengths and weaknesses and how that relates to their business, solidify their business idea, have a working business plan, and have worked through the accounting, legalities, insurance, etc. They will evaluate potential problems, they will design an advertising campaign on a low budget, they will set up a bookkeeping system and so much more. By using the workbook alongside the other books, your teen will have hashed out the most difficult parts of starting and running a micro business. They will be far more confident in their business endeavor, and far more prepared to be a success.
If your child has expressed an interest in starting a small business and making some of their own money, I highly recommend these books. In fact, if YOU sometimes daydream of starting a home-based business, I highly recommend these books. Although they are geared toward kids that are 10-18, these books would be wonderful for work-at-home moms, people wanting a second job or anyone who wants to start a business with little or no start-up money.