Dude, Where's My Business Plan? Tech Helps Teen Entrepreneurs

Ann All

My son is only 7, so I haven't experienced the teen years yet. But many of my friends with older kids tell me they find it hard to motivate their offspring to do their homework.


Yet apparently there are kids out there so motivated that they manage to start their own successful businesses in the midst of completing school assignments, hanging with friends and participating in other "normal" teen activities.


This article on TheStreet.com relates the stories of several teen entrepreneurs, including 16-year-old Donny Ouyang, who earns $6,500 a month as CEO of a Web consulting company, and Catherine Cook, who co-founded a social networking site when she was 15.


Though it doesn't indicate where the statistic came from, the article notes that six in every 10 teens want to be an entrepreneur. What's more, using free Internet resources they can establish online businesses for very little money.


Sites like Facebook and MySpace, where teens spend so much of their time, provide fertile ground for new business ideas, says William Walstad, an economics professor at the University of Nebraska and author of "The Entrepreneur in Youth: An Untapped Resource for Economic Growth, Social Entrepreneurship and Education."


Cook, co-founder of the social networking site, says it's easier for teens to generate ideas for the valued young demographic because they relate better to their peers than any adult marketer. Teens also enjoy less risk exposure, says Cook:

You don't have to worry about losing your home or paying any other huge bills as long as you're living at home. The worst thing that could happen if you try to start a business as a teen is that you fail.

Local and national media often help generate free publicity for such businesses because tales of teen entrepreneurs make for great copy (or footage). Cook's version of her own story really stood out in her application to Georgetown University. She is now studying business.

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