Sunday, May 18, 2014

Micro Business for Teens - a Crew Review

Have your teens been looking for a way to earn some money, but you're not sure they're ready to get a traditional job? Maybe they should consider starting a Micro Business. Whether you think that's a great idea, or you're a little skeptical, please let me tell you about three books Emily and I have been reviewing from Micro Business for Teens. Carol Topp, CPA, wrote the books in the Micro Business for Teens series in response to NOT finding quality books to help teenagers with small (micro) businesses. Think of each book as the cheapest way to hire a Certified Public Accountant to help you start your business.

Micro Business for Teens Review
The three books we received are : Starting a Micro Business ($9.95 print, $4.95 Ebook,) Running a Micro Business ($9.95 print, $4.95 Ebook,) and Micro Business for Teens Workbook ($14.95 print, $9.95 Ebook.) We received the print versions of all three books and Emily got right to reading the first one.

Micro Business for Teens Review
Starting a Micro Business begins by explaining exactly what a Micro Business is, and encourages the reader (who can be any age, but 10-18 would be best,) to consider the benefits of a Micro Business over other options, like a traditional job working for someone else. What intrigued me was the focus on the reader considering a Micro Business not just for earning money, but specifically for learning about business. All of the books we received encourage the teens to think, plan, and record their thoughts and steps towards a Micro Business. The Micro Business for Teens Workbook is designed to be used alongside the other two books, as it lines up chapter for chapter with what is being learned. The Workbook is full of worksheets to help your teen brainstorm, refine, and plan their Micro Business.

Just in case you're still a little fuzzy about what a Micro Business is, it is a small- small business. Usually there is one owner-worker, they are simple (and usually fast) to start up, about half of them are home-based, and they have low-risk. Some examples you might be familiar with are Lawn Care and babysitting. If you're wondering if your teen really needs help with a lawn-mowing business --- the answer probably is:YES! Your daughter may be a wonderful babysitter, but with a little coaching from these books, she will learn to better manage her time and resources, maximizing her enjoyment and profits, while keeping her ability to complete her school work.

If your teen, or you for that matter, is considering starting a small or micro business I encourage you to purchase at minimum the Starting a Micro Business book. I know a handful of CPA's, and none of them will give you all this information for only $10, try more like $300-$500. This first book in the series really impressed me with how well, but how simply, it is written. I wish I had had this information a decade ago when I was starting MY small business! In the seven chapters your teen will learn a lot about choosing an idea for a business, then weighing the pros and pitfalls of each type (service vs product) of business, and writing their own business plan. The book is geared for teens, and has a lot of: www...look this up... advice! Carol Topp encourages the teen to seek help from mentors (Mom & Dad, local small business owners, even their competition) to help them refine and plan their own business goals.

Micro Business for Teens Review
I also like this book for its chapters about initial financing (and avoiding debt) and well as the chapter about regulations, and where & how to research your own state's laws. The Micro Business for Teens Workbook gives your teen a place to keep all their ideas and notes. It is not super-time intensive, but does take enough time that your teen will be prepared to know how to start their business and how to price their products so that they're not losing money. All throughout the books, your teen will be encouraged to learn, and given the reminder that if things aren't going as planned, or they're getting overwhelmed, a Micro Business is almost as easy to close as it is to open.

Micro Business for Teens ReviewRunning a Micro Business covers the topics your teen (or mature 10-12 yr old) will need to know about AFTER they decide they want to proceed with starting a Micro Business. Important topics covered in the chapters include Sales, Marketing, Record Keeping, Book keeping, and more. These are important topics, because not only does your teen want to have a great product or service, they want to learn how to get paid for their work, and keep their customers coming back.

You, as the parent, should want your child to learn something for the time they invest. These books keep your teen simply focused, and teach them how to step-by-step move their business forward. I appreciate that the books recommend keeping all Micro Businesses as sole proprietorships. I have seen adults struggle with the demands of having a partnership in business, and that is NOT something you want your teen to have to deal with.

A Micro Business is not for everyone, yet for most teens, it can give them the flexibility they need to earn some cash, while learning about record keeping and taxes, and still being able to take time to study for important exams, or take time off for family vacations. As the business owner, you can decide how much business is enough, and, you can control your schedule and total hours spent each week. Perhaps your teen is great at playing the piano, if so, they might want to consider giving lessons. In these books they'll learn how to focus their desire, and turn it into reality. Adjusting costs, defining clientele, and doing basic balance sheets are all skills more easily learned in a Micro Business than when your entire savings account ( or a loan) is on the line as an adult.

I want to emphasize that these books are not JUST for teens. Many of the Moms I know could easily start their own Micro Business with what they would learn in these books. The workbook is not just an add-on, it takes what is being learned in the other two books and turns ideas into business plans. Don't discount the value in learning how to schedule your work/family/school/ other time each week. How many adults do you know who could use help with this? These books would be a great addition to an economics course, even if your teen decides NOT to start their own business. For $35 (about the cost of one hour with a CPA,) your teen can take their time (between 3 weeks and 3 months) learning a whole lot about business. Carol Topp, CPA, is the Mother of teens, so she knows what she's talking about on both fronts - parenthood and Accounting.

When Emily began reading the books, she asked me if it meant she HAD to start a Micro Business. My answer was "no." As she continued to read, she realized that she already had a micro-Micro Business through babysitting. She also realized that some of the local Mom and Pop stores might hire her as an independent contractor for short times of busyness, or specific projects, without being tied to a weekly schedule.

Here is what Emily (age 16) had to say after reading through all three books:

Starting a Micro Business gives a straight-forward approach to starting a business that is simple, easy, requires no outrageous loans, doesn't take much time, and works off of teens' pre-existing skills. All the chapters are short and to the point with real-life examples of real teens with actual working businesses. It covers many topics you may have wondered about or considered, and maybe a few you haven't, including inventory, marketing, pricing, customers, employees, partnerships, and more. It also teaches you how to make a good business plan and file taxes at the end of the year. The second book (Running a Micro Business) helps with the little things needed to keep your business going (and expanding if necessary,) while the Workbook helps you remember and write down what you have learned.

So there you have it, a great opportunity for you to invest $20-$35 in your teen's understanding of business, and maybe spur them on to start their own Micro Business. I personally would recommend this for ages 14 and up, but if you have a mature 10-13 year old, you could work through these books with them. In our house, Emily and I both read them independently and then discussed the material afterwards. At 14, Arlene probably won't read these for a year or so, simply because she is content with an occasional babysitting job, or helping me with alterations on occasion, as a way to earn some cash. When she gets to a point that she wants to earn more money, I'll have her read through the books and make her own business plan.

A lot of other Crew families also reviewed these books. You can read all the reviews by clicking the banner below.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the review! I really appreciate it.
    I'm glad you liked my warnings against partnerships (although siblings working together might be okay).
    Here's a video clip from a homeschool convention where I warn against partnerships for minors:

    There are a bunch of other videos with tips on starting a micro business on my YouTube channel: