Would you like to have more money in your pocket, face the future with more confidence and be able to set up a successful business for yourself? It is easier than you think. All it takes is a dream and a little thought and planning. Look at what these teenagers were able to accomplish:
Dorothy started her business at the age of 14, selling stick-insect eggs by mail order. Less than 20 years later, she is Great Britain’s biggest breeder of stick insects. Her company sells 50,000 a year.
Because she had experience with insects and knew she wanted to make a career in the insect business, Dorothy studied applied biology at a university, designing the right kind of insect houses and researching proper feeding facilities for her insects.
This greatly increased her ability to supply the whole package to her customers. She found that many people who worked all day wanted a pet but could not provide the attention needed by a dog or cat. Stick insects (called walkingsticks in some countries) were the ideal answer for some, and her beautifully designed cages are just as attractive in a room as any aquarium.
Naomi is a 13-year-old entrepreneur. “I was 11 when I started breeding guinea pigs for a bit of pocket money,” she said. “I bought a female guinea pig from a pet shop. The lady at the shop told me that the guinea pig was probably pregnant and she would buy the babies back from me when they were six to eight weeks old. My parents gave me some money to buy more hutches, and my brother, who was 10 at the time, went into business with me.”
Since first selling the animals, says Naomi, she has learned all about guinea pigs. She’s had to concern herself with cash flow, quality control and the responsibility of running a small business.
“Some of the money we make has to be saved to buy hay and more hutches and to pay for veterinary bills,” she says. “Having to look after so many animals takes a lot of time and work. I never realized making money was so much work. If the animals aren’t well looked after, they become dirty or even sick. So we have a responsibility to the pet shop to supply the very best product we can. If we don’t, we would no longer have a market, because the pet shop wants to keep their good reputation.”
Now that Naomi has run a guinea-pig business, she would like to work with bigger animals, perhaps horses. “Or working in a zoo would be fun!”
It sounds easy, doesn’t it? But how do you get started?
First, brainstorm. Divide a piece of paper into three columns. In column one, write what you want to accomplish in the next five years or so-a really good job, financing for college, more money or whatever you would like to do. In the middle column write down what it would take to accomplish this.
Consider, for example, financing four years of college. One young man did just that.
Ben’s family helped him turn an after-school job cleaning swimming pools and mowing lawns into a successful and valuable service. Because of the skills he developed through hard work, he landed a position with a large company, which paid his college fees, provided him training in a career and guaranteed him a job after graduation.
The company was not looking for a high-powered businessman; it wanted someone who had learned financial expertise and the value of customer satisfaction and perseverance-all vital entrepreneurial skills. Ben got the position because he had taught himself the one thing every company is looking for: self-motivation.
In the third column of your paper write down your interests along with any potential money-making ideas you can think of. Do you have any hobbies like Dorothy’s or Naomi’s? Can you provide a service like Ben’s? Do you have any special skill that could be developed to earn money?
Richard is an example of developing and using his skills to earn money. At the age of 15 he learned leather craft at a summer camp. He lived in a remote community in Wales, a place of few employment opportunities. However, Richard made small items he could sell at the only shop in his village.
Because he could provide a service and was determined to produce the highest-quality work, his reputation and his profit margin grew. Soon Richard could buy larger quantities of leather, which he made into beautifully tooled handbags and purses. These he sold in a larger shop in the neighboring village. Each item contained an offer to hand-tool initials on the item free of charge. This led to even more sales in the form of commissions for large items. Soon Richard had more orders than he could fill.
A secret to these teenage success stories is finding a niche in the market that no one else is filling. Research is vital before you start. If you hope to exploit a skill, make friends with local store and shop owners. Look for something they don’t sell or something you can produce better or less expensively. Show your samples.
If you hope to provide a service, make sure you can do it well enough and consistently enough to supply a number of clients. When advertising a service, offering a first-time free trial can win potential customers.
The often overlooked dimension to a long and successful career is reliance on God, and perseverance. As God said through King Solomon, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10 Ecclesiastes 9:10Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go.
American King James Version×), and he who heeds God’s Word “will find good, and whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he” (Proverbs 16:20 Proverbs 16:20He that handles a matter wisely shall find good: and whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.
American King James Version×).
Don’t be afraid to dream. Talk to your parents, teachers and other adults about making your dreams a reality. It takes courage, confidence, ingenuity and hard thinking to come up with a money-making idea and plan. But if you do you will be well on your way to finding a good job or starting a career. The next teenage success story we read could be yours! GN