Friday, May 16, 2014

Micro Business for Teens {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

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Do you have kids with natural entrepreneurial tendencies? Or do you have kids who want to earn extra money but are too young to join the work force? Well, I highly recommend Micro Business for Teens, a program that my 12-year-old son and I recently had the opportunity to review.

As a Schoolhouse Review Crew member, I received the following three books in paperback format:

Starting a Micro Business (paperback - $9.95, eBook - $4.95)
Running a Micro Business (paperback - $9.95, eBook - $4.95)
Micro Business for Teens Workbook (paperback - $14.95, eBook - $9.95)

Micro Business for Teens is specifically tailored for teens (kids ages 10-18) and their busy lives. Carol Topp, CPA, wrote these books because she couldn't find practical, realistic ideas and information for ordinary teens who want to be successful at starting and running a real business. Many products already on the market were either too childish and talked about lemonade stands and where to put your money, or they were too unrealistic and didn't fully explain the business part - taxes, record keeping, etc..

Micro Business for Teens is perfect for teenage entrepreneurs because the books are short and the information is presented in nice, bite-size chunks. Carol's writing style is very personable, and she includes lots of stories of ordinary teens who've launched their own businesses. Books are easy to read due to large font and nice lay-out. Personal stories are boxed in and separate from the main text, quotes are in bold letters, and each chapter wraps up with important points to remember. Her books will not only inspire teens to start their own businesses but will equip them to run their businesses in an orderly and professional manner.

 Starting a Micro Business

This book is just under 115 pages and is divided into 7 chapters. Considering the book's brevity, teens will be able to get through the book without feeling overwhelmed. The 7 chapters cover the following topics:
  1. What is a Micro Business?
  2. Getting an Idea: A collection of Micro Business Ideas Best for Teenagers
  3. Problems and Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
  4. Plan It First: Writing a Business Plan
  5. Financing Your Business Without Breaking the Bank
  6. Taking Care of Business: Extra Information to Get You Started
  7. Encouragement: Final Words to Motivate You
In this book, teens will learn exactly what a micro business is and 8 ways that it is different from a small business. They will also learn how to manage their time, overcome shyness, gain confidence, multi-task, market a product or service, and so much more.

Carol gives 42 different business ideas in alphabetical order and states 5 qualities she thinks every good micro business should have. Examples of real teens and their micro businesses plus encouraging Scripture and other quotes sprinkled throughout the book are helpful for motivation. As I mentioned earlier, each business example is boxed in and separate from the rest of the text and quotes are in bold letters - gives pages a nice, clean look!

Teens will go on to read about potential problems they may face as business owners and how to find solutions to different types of problems. Carol also talks about certain things to avoid like getting a business partner and going into debt and why these are important for success.

Teens will have the opportunity to view an example business plan, marketing plan, and financial plan and then create their own plans by answering questions that can be written directly in the book. These pages are also in the student workbook which I wish my son would have used instead. ;)

Carol advises teens to start their businesses debt free and gives examples from Scripture to back up her instruction. She gives practical advice, as well, on how to raise money that might be needed for business expenses. She also provides extra information such as books and websites to help teens further their micro business education or to get help concerning specific businesses they are interested in.

Running a Micro Business

This book is a little longer at just under 140 pages and is broken up into 9 chapters instead of 7. Still very manageable, although it does deal with the nitty gritty of actually running a business. The 9 chapters cover the following topics:
  1. Sales
  2. Marketing
  3. Customer Service
  4. Record Keeping
  5. Bookkeeping Basics
  6. Using Software
  7. Legal Names and Numbers
  8. Reducing Risk
  9. Time Management
In this book, teens will learn what it takes to be a good salesperson, whether selling in person or online, and how to get paid. They will learn ways to reach their target market and make a marketing plan. They will figure out what to charge if they are selling a product or service and discover many tips for delivering great customer service. They will be informed of the basics of bookkeeping and learn how to keep good records and create forms. Teens will also learn how to use software for bookkeeping if their businesses are booming. They will find out if and when their business needs a name, if they need a business license, insurance, or tax ID numbers. Lastly, they will learn how to manage their time appropriately.

This book can seem a bit more overwhelming with all of the legal stuff, however, it is written just as clearly as the first book and is laid out in a similar format with neat, boxed in examples and bold-letter quotations. It is definitely helpful for teens to have all of this information handy if and when the time comes for their businesses to really take off!

Micro Business for Teens Workbook

The 100-page workbook is designed to be used with Starting a Micro Business and Running a Micro Business. If you add up the chapters from both of those books, there are 16 total, but the workbook only contains14 chapters. A couple of chapters from the second book are combined in the workbook. So, for most of the books, teens can read one chapter in a book and then complete the corresponding chapter in the workbook, which is they way my son did it.

In the workbook, not only will teens answer comprehension questions but they will be able to brainstorm their own ideas. There are lots of sample forms to fill in such as marketing plans, business plans, financial plans, order forms, invoices, income ledgers, expense ledgers, etc.. There's also space to practice designing business cards and fliers, and there's practical advice on how to start a blog using Wordpress.

The workbook is great for teens to really be able to start putting their business plan into action. If your teen is serious about launching a business, I recommend getting the workbook to accompany the books.

My Thoughts

My son definitely has entrepreneurial qualities, but like myself, he doesn't like the thought of having to sell a product to people. (I don't really like the thought of cramming up my house with inventory either.) In any of my sort-of business endeavors, I've always had a hard time convincing people that they need a product that they could probably live without. I think it is safe to say that out of the 5 people in our family 0 have the gift of sales. (At least thus far.)

Anyway, I think these books are wonderful. These are the kinds of books that are about real-life learning. It's easy to get into a curriculum rut where it's all about the books and getting paper assignments done, but these books encourage children to think outside the box and get them contributing to society at an early age.

Also, how great is it for kids to be able to use their natural gifts and talents and make money doing it?! They have the opportunity to discover what they really love and what they really don't love. Gaining this kind of real-life experience can give them confidence and help them learn to be responsible. Micro Business for Teens encourages youth to believe that they have something important to offer and that they really can make a difference.

I am even looking forward to checking out some of the self-publishing advice and links since that is something I am interested in. :)

One thing I'd like to point out is that the younger the child is who wants to start a business, the more parents will need to be involved. Really, any child who starts a business will end up affecting the entire family in some way, especially if it involves selling products and services. I think parents need to take into consideration all of the legal components of their teen managing a micro business because they might need adult help at some point. I recommend parents reading these books along with their child.

My Son's Thoughts

He said the books gave good advice and were easy enough for a 12-year-old to read and understand. He felt that the chapters about taxes and stuff were somewhat difficult to grasp, however, he didn't really pay detailed attention to those since they don't really apply to him right now.

After reading the second book, Running a Micro Business, he thinks it is definitely geared toward teens who, like the title says, are actually running a business. Much of the content didn't apply to his life at this point. My list-maker son did enjoy the last assignment in that book, though.

He likes the fact that micro businesses are easy to start and shut down - not a lot of pressure involved, and the best tip he received was to keep the micro business a sole proprietorship. He also liked all of the personal stories of real teens who have successfully started businesses - makes starting his own business seem doable.


Both of my boys have had some working experience already - helping their grandpa in the summers with lawn care and collecting cans for recycling. I have even encouraged my boys to turn their family recycling into a business, but neither of them wants to ask people in the neighborhood if they are willing to donate on a regular basis. And I get it. The thought of knocking on doors and asking strangers for something is so not me either. Our family members are definitely more comfortable writing and creating in the wonderful world of Cyberspace!

My 12-year-old who read Micro Business for Teens likes making Lego stop motion videos and had actually just started monetizing his videos on YouTube right before we received these books. These books have been an encouragement for him to keep making the videos even when viewers seem scarce. I am planning on helping him spread the word about his videos, and as of right now he posts a new one every Friday. I guess I am his marketing help. :) I believe this is one of the videos he made while reviewing these books. In the following video, he is honoring his love of root beer, and using part of a song he created and produced.

And here's my favorite: Breakfast

While making stop motion videos might not be a true definition of a micro business, he hopes that he will be able to make some spending money from including ads. For him it's a perfect place to start - no selling products, just asking people to watch very brief videos. And who knows where it will lead? I guess making videos could turn into a thriving business like it did for Blimey Cow, my son's non-stop inspiration!

Whether you have shy teens or outgoing teens, there's a lot of great information packed in Micro Business for Teens that will have your kids well on their way to starting a business. Be sure to check out how other families used this amazing product by clicking the banner below!

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1 comment:

Carol Topp CPA said...


Thanks for the review! I loved the photos from the Workbook that your son filled out! Thanks for posting them.

You never know where hobbies like stop-motion films will take a kid. Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tales, started with stuff like your son is doing.


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