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小鬼当家:kids become the boss

放大字体  缩小字体 发布日期:2011-03-28  来源:华尔街日报

The lemonade stand. For some teens, this summertime staple is no longer a pastime, it's a profit center.

An estimated 120,000 kids in 31 cities are expected to attend one-day entrepreneur-training events in May, called Lemonade Day. The program, launched in 2007 with 2,600 participants, teaches children and teens how to borrow and repay investors who help start their stands, and what to do with profit, including donating some to charity, says founder Michael Holthouse, a Houston philanthropist.

With summer approaching, an increasing number of high-schoolers around the country are preparing to launch their own start-ups -- and not just lemonade stands. With lawn-mowing businesses, hand-painting of tennis shoes or Bosnian-language computer repairs, teens are bucking long odds in the dismal job market and earning their own mall money or cash for college.

'If you can't get a job, you can create your own,' says Steve Mariotti, founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, a New York-based nonprofit that provides programs for schools.

What's more, teen entrepreneurs are borrowing strategies from the pros. Josh Bostick started Josh's Car Wash Service at age 14, driving around his Flower Mound, Texas, neighborhood in a golf cart toting $20 in sponges and soap he bought at Wal-Mart. Today, the 17-year-old is marketing his services through text-message blasts, newspaper ads and an auto trade-show booth. He is planning to hire two friends this summer to help wash a commercial truck fleet, and he is meeting with car dealers to sell his services. Based on his 2011 business plan, Josh recently increased projected revenue this year by 50% to $15,000. 'Things have really been taking off,' he says.

约什博斯蒂克(Josh Bostick

One reason, says John Matthews, one of his customers in the Dallas suburb, is top-flight service: Mr. Bostick watches weather forecasts and warns customers of impending rain, suggesting they delay washing their cars until after the storm. Josh says, 'I do lose a good amount of business doing that, but my customers are really appreciative.' He hopes to have $50,000 saved when he leaves for college next year.

About 3.7% of high-school seniors are interested in becoming business owners or entrepreneurs, based on a survey of 1.9 million students by the National Research Center for College & University Admissions, Lee's Summit, Mo. Interest among younger high-school students is higher, at 4.1% to 4.4%.

Such programs as the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and Lemonade Day encourage young entrepreneurs to get an early start. Meadow Bob, 10, was so impressed by the cash she and a few friends raised with a Lemonade Day stand two years ago that she came up with a business idea of her own. In search of a product 'that will cool us off' during the summer, Meadow, who lives at Boys and Girls Country of Houston, a nonprofit children's home in Hockley, Texas, took $30 from her savings, bought a snow-cone machine and opened a stand selling the frozen treats at $2 a pop to her 83 schoolmates on campus, she says.

梅窦•鲍勃(Meadow Bob)

She has banked about $250 after expenses during her first two summers of operation and plans to open the stand again this summer. 'It is sometimes hard to work,' Meadow says. But she likes running her business; 'when you get it all laid out, it's very simple. And I always have a little bit of time where I can make my own snow cone.'

Fewer than 30% of teens ages 16 to 19 are likely to find paying jobs this summer, down from 52% in 2000 and about the same as the summer 2010 rate of 29.6%, the lowest since the government began keeping records in the 1940s, says Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, Boston. Beyond general job-market weakness, tighter legal restrictions on youth labor and adult competition for jobs are crowding teens out.

But teens are finding profitable niche markets in their communities. Bosnian immigrants Belma Ahmetovic, 18, of Wethersfield, Conn., and Zermina Velic, 17, of Hartford, Conn., will be working this summer in Beta Bytes, a home computer services business they started last year to serve the Bosnian community. Their 22-page business plan includes sales projections, a marketing plan and a pie chart showing how they manage their time.

Ms. Ahmetovic and Zermina deliberately undercut corporate competitors' prices, and their community ties foster customer loyalty. When viruses crashed Alma Pejmanovic's old home laptop, the pair cleaned it up for $100 while saving all her data. 'The word around the community is that these young ladies really know what they're doing,' says Ms. Pejmanovic through an interpreter. The girls are donating 5% of their $2,400 profit so far to One Laptop Per Child, a nonprofit that sends computers to children in developing countries; 'Since both of us come from a war-torn country, we know what it is like to have nothing,' says Ms. Ahmetovic, who immigrated in 2002, two years after Zermina.

Still other students leverage their Web skills to turn hobbies into profit centers. Sonika Singh started making hand-painted sneakers as gifts for friends at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, Calif., embellishing them with what she calls 'tame graffiti.'

The shoes were so popular that 'my friends said, 'You need to start selling those,'' she says. 'And what right-minded teen would say no to money?'

Sonika tested the market by creating a website with a query box to see whether potential customers would surface. After the site drew 'a ton of interest,' she says, eliciting more than 50 requests, she launched 'Rage Shoes' last summer, filling orders at a price of $35 a pair, a few dollars above her costs. The business 'was definitely enough to keep me busy all summer,' says Sonika, who is 17. She banked $450 and plans to continue the business part time this summer.

Other teen business owners are already honing a preferred-client list. Scott Sladecek, 18, of Spring, Texas, who started a lawn-care business in 2004 with his older brother, says some clients in the past have refused to pay after a job was done. 'We're honest kids. We did the work. But it's not worth taking them to small-claims court for $100.' So he aims his marketing at loyal repeat customers.

Aided by his brother David, 21, now a junior at the University of Houston, Mr. Sladecek is expanding the company's services to include rock removal, bush trimming and gutter cleaning. The brothers have invested $3,700 in equipment and plan to hire two employees this summer. Scott Sladecek has saved $20,287 for college tuition, and he hopes to have a lot more by the time he departs next fall for Texas A&M University. His intended major: business.


今年5月,预计将有来自全美31个城市的12万个孩子参加为期一天的“柠檬水之日”(Lemonade Day)创业培训活动。这一活动始创于2007年,当时的参加人数是2,600。活动发起人、休士顿慈善家迈克尔•霍尔索斯(Michael Holthouse)说,活动的主旨是让青少年学会怎么找投资人借钱摆摊,怎么偿还借款,怎么通过捐款给慈善机构之类的方法来处理赚来的利润。


位于纽约的创业培训网路(Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship)是一个为学校提供培训专案的非营利机构,该机构创始人斯蒂夫•马里奥蒂(Steve Mariotti)说,“找不到工作的话,你不妨自己给自己打工。”

这些十多岁的孩子不光自己创业,还从专业人士那里学来了种种战略。约什•博斯蒂克(Josh Bostick)住在德克萨斯州的弗劳尔芒德(Flower Mound),14岁的时候就办起了“约什洗车服务公司”(Josh's Car Wash Service)。当时他从沃尔玛买来了价值20美元的海绵和肥皂,然后就开着一部高尔夫球车在自家周围转来转去。如今,17岁的约什正在通过短信轰炸、报纸广告和一个汽车展示商亭来宣传自己的业务。今年夏天,他打算雇佣自己的两个朋友,一起为一个商用卡车车队提供清洗服务,还打算去找一些汽车经销商拉生意。最近,约什把2011年商业计划当中的预期收入提高到了15,000美元,目标是实现50%的增长。他说,“生意真的很有起色。”

约什的顾客之一是住在达拉斯(Dallas)郊区的约翰•马修斯(John Matthews)。马修斯说,约什之所以生意好,原因之一是一流的服务:博斯蒂克先生会关注每天的气象预报,如果即将下雨的话,他就会建议顾客把洗车时间推迟到下雨之后。约什说,“这种做法的确让我丢掉了不少生意,可是,顾客们都十分赞赏我的做法。”他的愿望是,赶在明年上大学之前攒下5万美元的积蓄。

位于密苏里州利斯萨米特(Lee's Summit)的全国大学入学研究中心(National Research Center for College & University Admissions)对190万名学生进行了一次调查,结果显示,高年级的高中生当中大约有3.7%打算自己创业。在低年级的高中生当中,这个比例还要高一些,是4.1%到4.4%。

诸如创业培训网路和“柠檬水之日”之类的机构和活动都鼓励有志创业的青少年尽早起步。10岁的梅窦•鲍勃(Meadow Bob)住在德克萨斯州霍克莱(Hockley)的“休士顿儿童王国”(Boys and Girls Country of Houston),那是一个非营利的儿童收养机构。8岁的时候,她和几个朋友参加了一次“柠檬水之日”摆摊活动,由此赚来的钱让她非常兴奋,进而产生了自己创业的念头。她说,她的想法是推出一种“可以让大家凉快下来”的夏季产品,于是就从自己的积蓄里拿出30美元买了台刨冰机,然后摆了个小摊,向学校里的83名同学出售一杯2美元的冷饮。


波士顿东北大学(Northeastern University)劳动力市场研究中心(Center for Labor Market Studies)主任安德鲁•萨姆(Andrew Sum)说,今年夏天,16至19岁的青少年当中只有不到30%能找到有报酬的工作,这个比例比2000年夏天的52%下降了不少,与2010年夏天的29.6%基本持平。美国政府从二十世纪四十年代开始统计这个比例,2010年夏天的数字是历史最低水准。除了就业市场整体不景气之外,青少年难以找到工作的原因还有更加严格的青少年用工法律限制以及来自成人的竞争。

不过,孩子们纷纷在自己居住的社区里找到了有利可图的市场缝隙。18岁的贝尔玛•阿米托维奇(Belma Ahmetovic)住在康涅狄格州的威瑟菲尔德(Wethersfield),17岁的泽米娜•维利奇(Zermina Velic)则住在同州的哈特福德(Hartford)。两个人都是波士尼亚移民,今年夏天将会一起操持Beta Bytes家用电脑服务公司。这家公司是她俩在去年开的,以波士尼亚移民为服务物件。她们的商业计划书长达22页,其中包括各种销售指标、一份市场计划以及一张关于时间管理的圆形图。

贝尔玛和泽米娜刻意把价格定得比那些竞争企业低,还凭藉邻里关系赢得了顾客的忠诚。阿尔玛•佩伊马诺维奇(Alma Pejmanovic)那台陈旧的家用笔记本因病毒而崩溃的时候,这对搭档不光消灭了所有的病毒,还保住了她电脑里的所有资料,收费则是100美元。佩伊马诺维奇女士通过翻译告诉我们,“街坊们都在说,这两个小姑娘真的很懂行。”到现在为止,两个小姑娘已经赚到了2,400美元利润。她们打算把其中的5%捐给“一童一电脑”(One Laptop Per Child)组织,后者是一个为发展中国家儿童提供电脑的非营利机构。贝尔玛是2002年来到美国的,比泽米娜晚两年,她说,“我俩都来自一个饱尝战争之苦的国家,因此就懂得一无所有的滋味。”

别的一些学生也用上了自己的网路技能,把个人爱好转化成了创收工具。在加州库比蒂诺(Cupertino)的Monta Vista高中读书的时候,索尼卡•辛格(Sonika Singh)开始用她所说的“单调涂鸦”来装饰运动鞋,再把这些手绘的鞋子作为礼物送给朋友。


于是乎,索尼卡开始进行市场测试。她建起了一个网站,通过问卷来了解潜在客户身处何方。她说,等到网站赢得“无数人的关注”、引来超过50份订单的时候,她就在去年夏天推出了“疯狂鞋子”(Rage Shoes),价格是35美元一双,比成本高那么几美元。17岁的索尼卡说,这门生意“红火极了,让我忙了整整一个夏天。”她由此赚到了450美元,今年夏天也打算抽出一部分的时间,继续做自己的鞋子生意。

另一些少年企业家已经用上了编制首选客户名单的策略。现年18岁的斯科特•斯雷德切克(Scott Sladecek)住在德克萨斯州的斯普林(Sprin),从2004年开始跟哥哥一起做修剪草坪的生意。他说,以前的一些客户有过干完活不给钱的记录,“我们都是诚实的孩子,活也替他们干了,可是,为了100美元就把他们告上小额追债法院实在是不值得。”所以呢,他现在的招揽目标都是那些多次光顾的忠实顾客。

他哥哥大卫(David)现年21岁,已经在休士顿大学(University of Houston)上三年级了。在哥哥的帮助下,斯雷德切克正在扩大公司的业务范围,准备增添清除石块、修剪灌木以及清理排水沟之类的新专案。兄弟俩购置了价值3,700美元的设备,今年夏天还准备雇佣两名员工。斯科特已经攒下了20,287美元的大学学费,还希望自己的存款额能有大幅度的提高,因为他明年秋天就要去德州农工大学(Texas A&M University)读书。他打算选择的专业是:商业。

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