By Howard Spence
EAST LANSING, MI -- Summer is here and school is out for students. This is a perfect time for them to find jobs or start work activities that will help them earn a little money before school starts back this fall. Summer also is a great time for young people to begin to develop strong job work ethics and work skills that will likely have a positive impact on them for years into the future.
Some of our young people who are still in high school and even middle school will be “lucky” and find summer jobs working for businesses that provide them with a regular paycheck. There are more jobs available this summer at fast food outlets, grocery stores and other retail establishments than have been available for young people in the recent past few years. But some younger people who are still high school students waiting to graduate may not be fortunate enough to find those jobs that will put cash in their pockets from a regular paycheck.
But summer break may be a chance for some young boys and girls to explore other income earning possibilities by starting their own summer businesses. Often these young entrepreneurs and business people of tomorrow can learn valuable business lessons while getting a taste of the risks and rewards of starting their own businesses during their summer breaks from classes while making some money.
From traditional small businesses providing labor and services opportunities such as lawn mowing and garden care, to some modest service business startups such as pet sitting and dog walking care, there are still ways for our children to stay busy while earning some much-needed cash during their summer breaks. But often these young entrepreneurs and business people need some encouragement and possibly “up front business investment money” to start their small businesses. Many who have yet to graduate from high school also may need job mentoring, encouragement and guidance from family and friends.
Haywood (Woody) Edwards II is a 16-year-old junior at East Lansing High School. He is a honor roll student and is a member of the Varsity Wrestling team and hopes to make the Varsity Football team this year after playing Defensive End and Offensive Tackle on the Junior Varsity team last year.
Woody is interested in becoming an electrical engineer and plans to attend Morehouse College and Georgia Institute of Technology for 5 years after which, he will have a Bachelor’s degree from both institutions. He begins a summer internship with Niowave of Lansing soon where he will hopefully job shadow the electrical engineers who work there. He has two younger sisters, Kayla and Kyra Edwards, and they all live with their father, Haywood J. Edwards, Sr.
Mr. Edwards said, “I encouraged my son, Woody, to find a job and start his own business. As parents, we need to give our children resources that will prepare them for real world experiences.”
Woody credits his entrepreneurial spirit to his father, who in turn, mentions that his father, Bishop Nathaniel Edwards, had a second hand appliance shop on the East Side of Detroit in the 60’s and the 70’s. He taught all of his 13 children that it was important to have a service that you could provide in addition to having a regular job.
Woody began his company Shiny Wheelz in March of 2017. He wrote a business plan and raised the initial capital that he needed. His father advanced him a small amount of “start up money” for supplies and equipment, including a vacuum cleaner.
Woody has spent a lot of time bonding with his father, who taught him some of the secrets and important points of business success. The bonding and mentoring has helped him become more self-sufficient and he is gaining customer service skills.
Mr. Edwards said, “ Today’s young people need to work harder on communicating effectively. There are so many distractions, like video games and social media that can get in the way of growth.”
Understanding the need for advertising but lacking a large budget, Woody printed business cards. A Facebook page was also set up so that he could connect with the community at large. He also established a mentor/mentee relationship with car wash owner Eric Jones (Lansing Detail) under whom he trained, and then reached out to his extended network. He hopes to build the company up to 75 monthly customers and then sell the company to a competitor for $50,000 when he leaves for college.
Woody said, “I have found that a mobile business is challenging but I enjoy learning new ways to travel in the city. One of the benefits that I provide is that I meet my clients where they are. If someone has chores to do at home, I can work on their car without them having to leave their home.”
While 16-years-old may seem young to be a business owner, Woody had a baked goods company called Cloud 10 which he started in 2013 at the age of 12. He transferred the company to his little sister Kayla, who is opening the doors to it again in the Fall of 2017 once school starts. This cookie company specializes in making home made cookies using real butter, authentic vanilla, brown sugar, and your favorite candy bar.
In his rare moment of spare time, Woody enjoys swimming, and other outdoor sports, making his own music, playing chess, and keeping his followers entertained on SnapChat and Instagram. One of his future goals is to enter Lansing Economic Area Partnership’s (LEAP) Lansing Youth Startup Challenge competition. It will be held in the Spring of 2018.
If you are interested in contacting Woody, he may be reached at 517-944-8496.
This was printed int the June 25, 2017 - July 8, 2017 edition.