Pick your project: Tips from teen entrepreneurs on pursuing your passion

Wanna start your own big-bucks business? We chatted up seven tween and teen biz-whizzes to get the scoop on their success. We’re sharing their best bits of advice to help you start it up!

Gauge interest
Katie Allred and Macy Dunegan of Midlothian, Texas, were track stars looking to make a little dough while they hung out all summer long. They combined their talent with a love for pooches (Katie’s mom is a dog trainer) and bingo! Hello, business. After chatting it up to Mrs. Allred’s clients, they knew they had a winning idea. People were pulling out their wallets before they’d even settled on a business plan!
Lesson learned? Before you launch a business, ask around to see if people would pay money for whatever it is you’re offering, whether it’s a service or a product.

Pick a passion

As soon as 16-year-old Shea Gouldd of Boynton Beach, Fl., could see over the counter, she was helping her mom cook dinner. At 13, she (with a little help from the Food Network) taught herself how to bake. Now that she is selling her goodies, she loves that her hobby makes people so happy. Seeing the smiles on her customers’ faces—and knowing they’re counting on her to deliver—helps her push through the difficult days.
Lesson learned? If you don’t like it now, you’ll hate it once you’re forced to follow through with a product or service. You can’t just decide you don’t want to work one day because that’s not how a business works.

What have you got to lose?
It wasn’t artist Maggie Lemak’s idea to sell her paintings at an art fair. It was her parents who pushed her to give it a shot. The 15-year-old received positive feedback at her first fair last year and now receives custom orders. And—oh yeah—she sold one of her pieces to dot.mine, a stationary company that will be using her design on the cover of a student planner this fall.
Lesson learned? If you’re doing something potentially profitable for fun, there’s no harm in seeing if you can’t make a buck—or twenty or thirty—off of your hobby.

Know when to go pro
Paige Sorrell, 14, was bored when she went into her mom’s leather-crafting studio looking for something to do. She began braiding strips of leather into bracelets, and the rest is history. After months of experimenting with designs and techniques, she knew that her bracelets were well made and consistent enough to go pro. She’s been selling them ever since.

Lesson learned? When you realize you can make moolah from something you’ve created, it’s natural to be excited. But don’t jump the gun. You need to hone your technique so that your final product is polished. If it’s good enough to be sold in a store, chances are you’re ready to start up your biz.

Find a need
When Lily Sandler, 13, and her sister Melanie, 12, started lip balm company Blamtastic, they did so because they weren’t happy with the chemical-laden lip products that were on the market. They wanted something all natural, and when they couldn’t find it in stores, they decided to make it themselves. And guess what? They’ve sold over 200,000 tubes so far!
Lesson learned? It’s all about changing the world for the better and being original while you do it. If you wish you could find something in stores but can’t, see what it would take to make it, market it and sell it yourself. Who knows: You might be the next Fortune 500 CEO!


by Brittany Taylor | 2/1/2016
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