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How to be a teen entrepreneur

Anthony Keane, April 19, 2022 6:30PM Kids News

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St John’s Grammar School students Blake Tourneur (left) and Lachlan Miegel, both 15, have started their own business called HydroSoil, which has seen them create an app and make sensors that tell people when their plants need watering. Picture: Emma Brasier media_cameraSt John’s Grammar School students Blake Tourneur (left) and Lachlan Miegel, both 15, have started their own business called HydroSoil, which has seen them create an app and make sensors that tell people when their plants need watering. Picture: Emma Brasier

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Starting a business is tricky for people of all ages, but teenagers have more going for them than most.

Enthusiasm, fresh ideas, tech-savviness and lack of financial baggage make them perfect potential entrepreneurs. And their ranks are growing.

ASE Group chief executive Taj Pabari runs three-day school holiday business camps for young people, through businesscamp.com.au, and other training programs, and says the pandemic has produced more teen business owners.

“As a result of Covid-19, we’ve been seeing huge numbers of young people – many of whom lost their job or were underemployed* in existing roles – go out and make the switch to start their own business,” he said.

Taj Pabari media_cameraTaj Pabari says more teenagers have been starting their own businesses since the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Picture: AAP Image

Mr Pabari said it often took just one good idea, and being prepared to work hard.

“It’s easy to be fooled by everyone’s highlight reel or Instagram feed – business can look easy and flexible, but it’s a really, really hard sport,” he said.

“Get ready for one of the hardest things you’ll ever do but as someone who actually started a business at 14, it’s totally worth it.”

MARKETS AND CUSTOMERS

Small Business Australia executive director Bill Lang said teenage entrepreneurs should understand that all businesses made mistakes, and those who learnt from them would succeed.

“This is why starting a business at a young age can be so beneficial,” he said.

“Before you’re old, you’ll become aware of all the little mistakes you made the first time around and avoid them on your business ventures later in life.”

Mr Lang said that before settling on an idea, budding entrepreneurs should do some research to better understand the market they were thinking about entering.

“Look for faults in other products and services and try to fill the void,” he suggested.

Mr Lang said customers were the essence* of a business. “Remember your product or service should either solve a problem or fulfil a desire – if it can do both, even better,” he said.

BeaDoughs media_cameraSunny Beatson, 17, started making doughnuts from the kitchen of his home in Burnie, Tasmania, during Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 and is now preparing to open his second store. Picture: Chris Kidd

FINANCIAL FACTORS

Teenagers can easily open bank accounts and the Australian Taxation Office says they can have their own tax file number at any age, and can sign for it themselves from age 13.

Some entrepreneurs will need an Australian Business Number (ABN), and business.gov.au has tools to help you work this out. You can also search for any restrictions on your business idea or licences you may need.

Mr Lang said one of the biggest financial factors was start-up funding, which is why many first businesses involved selling a service before getting paid.

Crowdsourcing through Kickstarter could be an option, while parents and friends might help, too.

FIND A COMMUNITY

Mr Pabari said microbusiness owners could not do it alone and should seek out a community of like-minded people.

His firm runs a free platform, space.edu.au, to help people connect and network.

“Even if you’re not completely ready to launch, just start a conversation with a potential partner,” he suggested.

And always say “yes” to everything, whether it’s an event, a meeting or an opportunity, Mr Pabari said.

Hydrosoil media_cameraLachlan Miegel (left) and Blake Tourneur show off their HydroSoil app and monitor. Picture Emma Brasier

TIPS FROM YOUNG GUNS

South Australian students Lachlan Miegel and Blake Tourneur, both 15, have started their own business, HydroSoil, which has seen them create an app and make sensors that tell people when their plants need watering.

Lachlan, who goes to St John’s Grammar School with Blake, said now was an exciting time to be innovating*.

“The main thing I have learnt is coding skills as well as new marketing strategies,” he said.

Lachlan’s top tips are:

Find something you are passionate about.

Don’t be afraid to try new things or put yourself out there, there’s no need to feel ridiculous or silly – own it.

Blake’s top tips are:

Realise you have the potential to make great things.

Give your idea a go because earning valuable skills for your future while working on something you love is amazing.

GLOSSARY

  • underemployed: when a person has a job but is not able to work as many hours as they would like
  • essence: key part
  • innovating: doing new things

EXTRA READING

Meet Queensland’s 15-year-old millionaire

Sunny enjoys sweet taste of success

Young minds rise to the challenge

QUICK QUIZ

What two things does Taj Pabari say it often takes to get a small business started?

Which teenagers are most likely to succeed, according to Bill Lang?

How old do you have to be to sign up for your own Tax File Number?

What other number might an entrepreneur need?

Name one of the top tips from each of Lachlan and Blake.

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Start your own business
Work with a partner to sketch out a rough business plan for a new product or service you’ve thought of yourselves. Use tips from the Kids News article, such as choosing something you are passionate about and believe in yourself so that you can achieve something great! Fill out the pro-forma below and present your idea to the class.

Maybe your idea is something you do wish to develop further in the future.

New business idea

Plan derived by:

Idea for new product or service:

What is your target market?

How much money do you estimate you’ll need to start your business?

Would you be interested in going to a business camp?

Who could possibly fund this idea or become partners in it with you?

Is this something you are passionate about and interested in?

Do you think this product or service could make a profit?

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Lachlan’s and Blake’s top tips are:

  • Find something you are passionate about
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things or put yourself out there, there’s no need to feel ridiculous or silly – own it
  • Realise you have the potential to make great things
  • Give your idea a go because earning valuable skills for your future while working on something you love is amazing.

Which of these tips appeals to you the most?

Can you think of something you love and are passionate about that you’d like to do for a job in the future? What might that be?

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Personal and Social; Critical and Creative Thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
To sum it up
After reading the article, use your comprehension skills to summarise in a maximum of three sentences what the article is about.

Think about:

What is the main topic or idea?

What is an important or interesting fact?

Who was involved (people or places)?

Use your VCOP skills to re-read your summary to make sure it is clear, specific and well punctuated.

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