“We see kids who really have a strong desire to achieve – it’s almost as if it’s in their DNA,” says Richard Martinez, president and CEO at Young Americans Center for Financial Education. He sees enterprising youth with big ideas every day. Even when business ideas don’t take off, Martinez points out, there are lessons to be learned and incorporated in the next attempt. While some kids are defeated by what they perceive as failure, others view it as a chance to learn more about why things didn’t go as planned and start again. “Those kids are just driven to succeed and it’s really fun to watch their ideas grow and evolve,” says Martinez.
We found two local “kid entrepreneurs” who fit Martinez’ description.
What began as a way to earn a few extra dollars became a robust business for Mitchell Crine. Now in its third year of seasonal operation, his Stapleton lawn care business is exceeding his expectations.
When Crine started his business at age 11 it turned out to be a lot more work than he anticipated. With an older mower and lawn edger, there were lots of slow starts and mechanical repairs. Schedules also had to be adjusted to ensure customers received weekly service when the weather refused to cooperate. “At the end of the summer, I thought I could do more work a lot faster if I spent some of the money I earned on a new mower,” he said. He also invested some of his profits in the purchase of a new edger and blower. Armed with new equipment, Crine started offering his services to a larger number of customers.
In year two, Crine, with his dad’s help, set up a Paypal account. “It makes it more convenient for customers for sure.” It also makes it easier for him to deposit his earnings directly into the bank. Most customers are now billed with a link to PayPal and he also includes information about his upcoming mowing schedule. If he is out of town, he subcontracts with friends and pays them the full service fee, saying, “I want them to be paid fairly for doing a good job.” This year, services were expanded to include aeration.
Next year, Crine hopes to be employed by his parents in their family-owned business. His customers need not worry though. A younger brother is waiting in the wings to take over.
In Lowry, 11-year-old Isabelle May, is expanding her Charming Wine Charms business. Designed to fasten around the stem of a wine glass, each charm is colorful and helps a wine drinker enjoy their beverage in a glass designated as “theirs” for the duration of any gathering. She also assembles attractive, colorful packaging for each charm set with a business label and contact information. Her wine charms are sold individually or in sets of four, six or eight. She hopes people will fall in love with the set they buy and purchase more to give as gifts.
May has been operating her business for over two years. She sells her charms in person at craft fairs and local holiday sales events and she has an online sales presence. Charming Wine Charms will also be stocked at a new gift shop at Rocky Mountain Children’s Hospital that sells products made by young entrepreneurs.
May is working to increase her online traffic and sales. She took a web development class at Young Americans Center for Financial Education to get the site up and running. “Right now, I sell about 25 sets a year online. There is a lot of room to sell more.”
Part of the proceeds from sales is reinvested back into the business for supplies, maintaining the website and contract labor. The profit goes into May’s savings account. This summer, she is traveling to Sweden for one month to attend a youth camp, one of four Colorado 11-year-olds going on the trip. They will spend the month of July with other 11-year-olds from 16 countries. May paid for half the cost of the trip with money she earned selling her products.
‘This Morning’ on CBS featured an interview with May in their story about youth businesses and she was also recognized as the Young Americans Center for Financial Education’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Visit www.charmingwinecharms.com.
Young Americans Center for Financial Education offers seminars, camps, classes and competitions for kids who want to turn their idea into a successful business venture and learn about business management along the way. By learning the basics of business planning, website creation and success strategies, kids can go from initial idea to launch while learning what it takes at every step. Kids can even apply for loan to cover start-up costs. Loans can be as small as $25, but each application must be accompanied by a solid business plan and profit forecast. Visit YACenter.org for more information.