By Andrew Morrison
President, Small Business Camp
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that the unemployment rate for teens this summer is expected to be 26.4 percent -- the highest number since they began tracking in 1948. Double that number and you begin to come close to the unemployment rate for black and Hispanic teens. Summer jobs that many of us were accustomed to growing up are virtually non-existent. Research shows a direct correlation to criminal activity and lack of meaningful work experience among teens.
What's the solution?
We could demand that the federal government allocate more dollars for summer employment programs and make sure that the state spends the money wisely. This political option should be pursued. As a business coach and someone who built a multi-million dollar company in my 20s, I suggest that all of us can also pursue a practical approach as well. Instead of helping a teen find a job -- how about helping them to create one?
Here's what you can do to help a teen or young person start their own business this
1) Listen for their Passion.
Teens have their own unique voice, dress and style. I know that you despise the tongue-ring, tattoo and sagging pants. A constant attempt to correct their behavior prevents you from listening to their dreams, desires and goals. Despite any outward appearance of apathy, all teens have something that inspires them. There is an activity that they will cause them to jump out of bed at 6am. Listen carefully and you can uncover it.
2) Connect Passion to Project.
Find a two-month project. You can keep your teens interest by showing how they can achieve tangible results in a specific period of time. It's not always about the money. Not everyone is motivated by money. Maybe there is a service project that a young person could take the lead-on. Cleaning-up a park, preparing food for the homeless and reading to children are examples of projects that can occupy a teen and look good on their college application.
3) Bring their Friends.
Peer pressure is the most powerful force on the planet. If you really want to keep a teen involved then make sure to invite their friends. They know which friends will take this business or service opportunity seriously. Any disagreements that arise serve as opportunities to improve their conflict resolution skills. The team approach will also help them to recognize and appreciate each others gifts and talents. That "shy" kid who they avoid may have the graphic design skills they need to start a clothing line.
4) Recruit a Mentor.
Now that you have a team and idea in place, you can significantly increase their odds for success by asking a business person or executive to serve as a summer mentor. It's best if the individual had some experience in the industry that your teens plan to pursue. You could contact Score, chambers of commerce, local retailers or Rotary clubs to find a mentor.
5) Raise Start-up Money.
The teens may need capital to get started. Help them create a one-page description of their idea and begin to share it with friends and relatives. Most concepts should require less than $500 to get started. Encourage them to find 5 people to invest $100 each and offer a promissory note that pays 10 percent interest in six months. Seeking investors may be the least glamorous task but this will determine if they are serious about making money this summer.
6) Events Are Hot!
People enjoy going places during the summer. Maybe your teen business owners could work with an organization to promote a trip. Make sure they have at least six weeks to promote the event.
7) Internet Money is the Best Money.
Billions are spent online each year. Teens could use eBay to list a neighbors items and take a commission on each sale. CreateSpace can be used to sell books, CDs and DVDs on-demand with no initial investment. Do you have an idea for a design or saying? Then CafePress and Zazzle is the place to create custom t-shirts, posters, bags and etc. without paying a penny.
Andrew Morrison is the President of Small Business Camp. The company provides high-impact marketing strategies for entrepreneurs, executives and non-profit leaders. Andrew has as trained thousands of entrepreneurs from Hawaii to Nigeria and appeared on Oprah. Visit www.smallbusinesscamp.com to receive his no-cost report entitled, "Identifying and Growing Any Business Idea in 16 Weeks".
This article was originally printed in the August 15, 2010 - August 28, 2010 edition.