Entrepreneurial Spirit Sparks Teens' Success In Business
Highly motivated high schoolers have created their own companies, from catering to computer sales
FOR 17-year-old Carrick Sears, it takes a lot of work to make a good tomato. Plus good soil, manure, a computer, and two part-time employees.Skip to next paragraph
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''I made a profit of $3,000 last year,'' he says of his business, Carrick's Garden Shoppe in Montague, Calif. On his one acre he grows tomatoes, sweet corn, cucumbers, squash, and watermelon. Some 170 families have come to count on the produce that comes from Carrick's bountiful acre.
Carrick is one of 10 teenagers from around the country chosen to participate in a contest for young entrepreneurs sponsored by Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. The university offers degrees in business, hotel management, entrepreneurship, and culinary arts.
The contestants are go-getters who began their own businesses during their high school years, ranging from catering to computer sales.
The drive to succeed
Hard-working, focused, and motivated, these teens' free-enterprise experiences are giving them a unique preparation for college.
''When I go to college now,'' says Carrick, with an eye on being a stockbroker, ''I'll know better what works and what doesn't.''
''The talent here is truly amazing,'' says Mark Hayward of the Small Business Administration, and one of seven judges in the contest. ''And behind each one of these success stories,'' he says, ''is often a mother or father who encourages their child to succeed.''
In Pasco, Wash., 17-year-old Miguel Miranda's nickname is ''Shack.'' At 14, he started ''Sno-Shack,'' a summer snow-cone business featuring the Mercedes-Benz of the snow-cone world, shaved ice. ''We offer 100 flavors,'' says Miguel, who also works part-time as a bank teller in an intern program. He is a finalist in a statewide teen business competition.
Miguel's business sense was triggered in grade school when he sold Boy Scout candy bars to his classmates. ''One day,'' he says, ''I said to myself, 'I can sell my own candy bars.' '' He made $200, until the school principal ended the enterprise because candy wrappers were all over the school.
Later he worked in a produce market, and with his savings and some help from his parents, he bought the snow-cone business for $2,000. ''I had to talk the manager of a farmers' market into letting me sell snow cones out in front,'' he says.
Last year snow cones provided him with $6,000 in profits. He bought a truck. ''I work more than eight hours a day,'' he says of the time spent selling snow cones at 15 to 20 summer events and at his permanent location at the farmers'market. His mother works with him on busy days.
''I'm working for myself, which is what I want,'' he says. ''I get to meet all kinds of people, and I've learned how to talk to adults and explain myself.''
For contestant Dena Pedynowski of Succasunna, N.J., birds are ''the ultimate freedom.'' She began her business, ''Pedynowski Aviaries,'' when she was 14, with encouragement from her father. Now she rents space for an aviary she designed. She breeds from a stock of 150 birds, sells bird cages, bird feed, and travels in a brightly painted trailer to bird shows around the country.