Is Your Teenager Wasting His Summer?
By Carol Topp, CPA
Summer is a great time for a teenager to earn some money working a temporary job, but most jobs are a waste of time. Summer jobs are usually low-skill jobs with tedious tasks like running a cash register or cleaning up bits of paper at an amusement park. These jobs pay poorly and do not usually offer any paths to advance or grow. They do nothing to help a teenager develop his gifts or prepare him for a future career. The best that can be said about a summer job is that it keeps a teenager busy and pays him a bit of money.
What if there was a way for your teenager to make some money, learn a lot and test a future career this summer? It would be a much better use of his time. What if your teenager learned time management, practiced math and writing skills, and grew in confidence and responsibility? That would be a very rewarding summer.
Instead of telling your teenager to get a job, encourage him to start a micro business. A micro business is a one-person business that can be started easily, usually without any up-front cash, using what a teenager already owns. Micro businesses are usually home-based and very flexible so a busy student can keep up with other interests, sports and a social life.
Teenagers can use their skills to develop businesses such as teaching guitar lessons, doing web design or caring for children. Some teenagers have started micro businesses by offering services such as house cleaning, pet care, and lawn mowing. One easy-to-start micro business is tutoring. Students can tutor math, Spanish, computer programs or any subject that they are good at.
The quickest way to get your teenager started is to look for a need he can fill such as teaching a subject he knows well. Edgar is bi-lingual, since his family speaks Spanish in their home. He is tutoring another student in Spanish as a micro business.
Other teenagers can turn their interests into a micro business. Kristin combined her love of reading and childcare. She assembled a small group of children one morning a week and in a two hour block of time read them a story, planned a craft, and fed them a snack. She charged $5 per child per week and conducted a six-week mini-camp one summer. It was so popular, she offered an afternoon reading camp as well.
One benefit of running a micro business during the summer over working a job is that a teenager can try out an idea and see if they want to pursue it as a career. Joel has a talent for computer web design. He is teaching himself software like InDesign and makes money by creating buttons and banners for websites. His web design micro business will help Joel determine if her wants to be a full time graphic designer. Meanwhile he is learning time management and customer service skills while getting paid.
So don't saddle your teenager with another summer of working a boring, tedious job that offers no challenges or opportunities for growth. Instead, encourage him to have his best summer yet by starting a micro business.
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