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Teen Business Do's and Don'ts:
Guidelines and Tips for Younger Teenagers
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Are you a teen who is looking for some ideas about starting your own business? Read our companion article, Job Ideas for Teens 15 and Younger: Beyond Babysitting and Lemonade Stands.
This article is all about providing great tips and guidelines -- key do's and dont's -- to help younger teens earn some money and get work experience by starting their own neighborhood businesses.
- Do get the advice of an adult family member before starting your business.
- Don't try to compete directly with any big businesses; the key to finding success with your business is to find a niche -- find something that is lacking and fill it.
- Do consider coming up with a cool name for your business -- it will make you seem more professional.
- Don't get too discouraged if your business starts slowly; it takes time to get your business known.
- Do make detailed plans about how you will run your business, including the types of services you will perform (babysitting, lawn care, errands, tutoring, etc.), prices, cancellation notices, payment options, and the like. And do consider writing a mission statement or philosophy to help guide your actions.
- Don't let any of your customers cheat you out of your money. And do consider enlisting an adult family member to help you handle any customer disagreements.
- Do consider developing agreements for each customer to sign. In fact, do get everything you do or plan to do in writing.
- Don't let a competing teen stop you from opening a similar business. If you don't want to compete, do consider forming a partnership. With multiple partners, you'll have a bigger network of potential customers and perhaps more time flexibility because you'll be sharing the load. But do be aware that having partners can also add lots more hassles and aggravations.
- Do use every available resource to spread the word about your new business, including posting flyers around the neighborhood, in community centers and religious organizations, and local stores. But remember that the best source will be the network of your family, friends, and neighbors -- and current customers, once you get your business established. You can consider going door-to-door to announce your service, but don't do it by yourself -- have an adult go with you.
- Don't let a dissatisfied customer stay dissatisfied. One of the key rules to business success is satisfying the customer. Ask what you can do to make the customer satisfied -- and then do it, if you can.
- Do get organized, including developing a daily/weekly/monthly planner. Try not to ever accidently forget a customer appointment, but if it does happen, try to find a way to make amends (such as a discount on the next appointment).
- Don't fall in the trap thinking that starting your own business will be extremely lucrative and fun; running your own business is a lot of hard work, but it will be great experience for future jobs and college applications.
- Do be prepared to leave your friends behind when you go to work; and don't ever skip a customer appointment to hang out with your friends -- your business has to come first.
- Don't spend all the money you make from your business; do put some money aside to save for the future.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He's often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.
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