Friday, May 16, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Micro Business for Teens

When Micro Business for Teens showed up on the list of possible review items, I have to admit, I dismissed them as one that wasn't for us. Afterall, I don't have any teenagers!!! But then, when we actually got the information on the review, I found out that the products up for review, Starting a Micro BusinessRunning a Micro Business and Micro Business for Teens Workbook are ideal for ages 10-18, and much as I hate to admit that my kids are growing up so fast, I most definitely DO have children in that age range.

I mentioned the option to Lexie and Ashlyn (11), and they were SOOO excited!! They have alot of their Daddy in them, and have been plotting "business plans" practically since birth. We requested the ebook version of these books so that both girls could read them, on their iPods, computer, or my iPad, and I could print 2 copies of the workbook for them.
Micro Business for Teens Review

As the titles indicate, Starting a Micro Business ($9.95 for paperback, $4.95 for ebook) is a short, easy to follow book, written by CPA, Carol Topp, that walks teens, or really anyone, through the steps of starting a micro business. A micro business is smaller than a small business, typically it has few, if any employees, requires very little start-up expense, and is small enough to close down easily if needed. It can include typical "teen businesses" such as babysitting and lawn mowing, but also might include selling items, offering services, such as computer support or graphics design, etc.

Micro Business for Teens Review
Running a Micro Business ($9.95 for paperback, $4.95 for ebook) is the "sequel" so-to-speak, and goes more specifically into the things a person needs to do to run a micro business, once you've decided on a business.

The Micro Business for Teens Workbook ($14.95 for paperback, $9.95 for ebook) ties in with the first book and walks the teen through what to think about, consider, and do, for each chapter, from brainstorming the type of business you might want, to writing up a business plan, etc.

When we got the downloads, the girls were anxious to jump right in. I loaded the first book onto their iPods and the computer and let them start reading it, while I quickly read it on the iPad. It's a very quick read, which was nice, I could quickly read it and then know what to expect from the girls as they read through it. One thing I noticed, the book seems to be written to assume that the reader will make each decision and do the things on each step, as they read the book, however, it seemed more logical to me, after reading through the whole book, to have the girls read through the whole book and then go BACK through it, with the workbook, and start actually brainstorming and otherwise making decisions about what business, if any, they wanted to start.

One thing that I had liked about this whole idea, was the thought of Lexie and Ashlyn being able to work together on a business. However, this book never really address, or even seem to consider, the possibility of siblings working together on a venture like this. It speaks quite strongly, and rightly so, about not going into partnerships with others (friends, etc) because of the possible pitfalls inherent in that, however, I feel that a sibling situation is different, and should at least be addressed. We chose to discuss that, in light of the book's suggestions against partnerships, on our own.

Both girls, are currently abit obsessed with needle felting, so I wasn't too surprised when they quickly decided that making, and selling needle felted products was the path they'd like to pursue. They've always had lots of "big ideas" about starting businesses, and these books were a great way to get them to be more methodical about it. As they began looking into what's involved with selling items online (using, they realized that, while they love their iPods, if they're going to run a business, they need the greater functionality of an actual computer. My husband and I had been talking about getting them a computer to use for school projects anyway, but this got them on board and not just asking for one, but asking about how much one cost, and really thinking about what they NEEDED and were willing to pay for. In the end, their dad helped them choose a small laptop, and they each contributed to the cost of purchasing it.

We've also been discussing the time commitment of starting, and running a business. I pointed out that whenever fun things come along, they tell me they don't have time for their chores, and if they really don't have time for the basics, then they definitely don't have time for a business too. So, right now their "job" is to show us that they can keep up with their chores, even when other life happens. Meanwhile they are also researching the best place to buy wool, and other supplies, and whether it's a better choice to purchase wool already colored, or to purchase white wool and dye it themselves.

This has been a wonderful, educational experience for them, and it has been soo much better to have "the book" telling them to consider possible problems, and move through the process methodically instead of just having Mommy tell them they need to think about these things.  One thing I'd caution parents about, in the book, she recommends, rather early in the process, in my opinion, meeting with a CPA, and offers her own services, "for a reasonable fee". I felt that, given the target audience of teens, it would have been better if she'd suggested discussing with their parents, the need to meet with a CPA. In our case, since I AM a CPA and their dad is also an accountant, it was pretty easy for them to fulfill that requirement for free, but in most cases, that would be something to be aware of and perhaps steer your children to doing more research on their own to make sure they are going to move forward with the business, before spending money talking to a CPA.

I highly recommend these books for anyone whose teens or tweens, like mine, are itching to make their own money with every bright idea that pops into their heads. Even if your child isn't quite so . . . inventive, this can still be a good way to start them thinking in that direction, and even if a business doesn't actually materialize from these books, the thought process involved in considering it, is a wonderful learning experience for all teens!

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1 comment:

Carol Topp CPA said...

Thank you for the review! I'm glad your daughters liked the books.

It will be fun to see what they learn and do with their micro business.

You offered some wonderful suggestions that I'll consider when I update the books. When I speak at conventions I warn against partnerships, but do say that siblings going into business is probably fine because mom and dad are there to settle any problems that might arise.

I also like your idea of reading through the Starting book first and then tackling the Workbook. I might suggest that as an alternative idea to readers.