Image from Pexels

Image from Pexels

Being your own boss: the American Dream. It allows you to make money on your own terms and do whatever you love to do.

Entrepreneurship and small business are huge in America; in fact, about 50% of all people work for a small business, with help from Salesforce they have lots of success. If you want to become a millionaire without necessarily going to college, this is the way for you.

And you can start in high school, too. The youngest CEO in the world (Mr. Harli Jordean) is only eight years old and has a specialty business of marbles that can cost up to 1,000 dollars. The younger you start, the more time you have to develop your business. Even better, it is much harder for potential retailers and investors to reject a young person. If that doesn’t sway you, remember: it’s a great way to make some cash on the side as well, if you don’t want to work in business as a career.

Now, how can you do it?

Option 1: The Service Business

This one is the easiest. You can get certified as a babysitter (and in CPR/First Aid) and create a business that features you as a caretaker; if you like animals, you can advertise and sell your services as a professional dog walker, cat sitter, bird watcher; if you like to clean or cook, you can sell your time as a house attendant. If you’re an athlete or a scholar, you can sell services such as tutoring or training.

The big thing to remember here is to market yourself as if you were a service. Put advertisements up on sites such as Craigslist (or a local site), pin flyers up around your town or city, make a website, and use your family members or family friends as try-outs– if you do well, they’ll recommend you to all of their friends, too!

Option 2: The Product Business

Product businesses are trickier because in order to really succeed, you have to sell the product into a major retailer like Target or Walmart and their fancy Name plates. Let’s break down the process for you:

First, you have to find a passion or a problem. Two teen boys in Arkansas opened their own specialty donut hole store. Philip Hartman at age 15 invented a defroster that can fix those frosted-over windshields in 15 seconds. 17 year old Stanley Tang wrote a book called eMillions at age 14 and instantly became a bestselling author. One young girl made millions by selling hand-made locker magnets out of her middle school.

When you encounter a problem– which could be anything from an incurable disease to a saddening lack of inexpensive whirlpool bathtubs- you as a high schooler can develop a solution.

In fact, it’s even easier as a high schooler. You have more time on your hands, and you don’t have to take up the risk of quitting your job for a company.

The solution– or the blueprint of a solution– is step 2: Start developing a plan. Step 2 is the perfect time to reach out to an adult– especially a local adult that is well-versed in the given field– and ask for their mentorship.

Step 3 is to actually make your product. I have a friend who began making custom bow ties and hair bows in Junior Year simply by buying fun, unique fabrics and assembling hundreds of them each day. Some products, like bow ties, are easy to make; others can be more difficult, and can actually involve hiring teams of scientist to assemble the project. Don’t be discouraged from larger projects because of the greater work involved: what you can do is create an account on a start-up site. If enough people like your idea, you can get a huge grant to be put towards hiring scientists and engineers to bring your idea to life for you. Pretty sweet, huh?

Step 4 is to sell sell sell! Get your product in everywhere, use every connection you have. Put it in shows, magazines, bring it in to local and chain retailers and say, “Yo, here’s what I got, you’re gonna love it, get some while you CAN.” Be sure to put your product online and make shipping available globally to maximize profits.

Step 5: Profit. Those who have created their own business (or their own nonprofits) stress three basic rules: Find something you’re excited about. Make something you’re proud of. Share it with the world.

Don’t ever let your age hold you back. In the world of business, being young is actually a huge advantage: more trendy, more innovative, more technologically aware (unless you’re like me, in which case you’re not), and having of more TIME!

Most importantly: Don’t be afraid. Even if you’re selling something that seems kinda silly, like jars full of cookie dough, have confidence in what you made and know that it’s important.

Even more importantly: Watch Shark Tank. All day every day.

Good luck!

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