From the April 2002 issue of Startups

(YoungBiz.com) - Making money. There's no way around it. If you want to buy that first car, pay college tuition or just go to the movies, you gotta have some income. Wouldn't it be great if you could find a job you'd do even if you weren't getting paid?

It's not as far-fetched as it may seem. Lots of teenagers have turned their favorite hobbies into businesses--and made big bucks doing it. Here are some of their stories.

Don't Let it Bug You
Insects may bug you, but they equal money to 19-year-old Randy Meissen of Salisbury, Missouri. A collector since he was very young, Randy sells insects to schools and other collectors--and makes a tidy profit doing it.

Meissen's business began when his Future Farmers of America advisor made an offer to pay students $2 for each insect they brought to him. "He wanted to start a collection for teaching," Meissen explains. "He asked for 100 different species, and I went home and found that I already had about 75."

From that first collection, Meissen Entomology Co. was born. "I thought that if my agriculture teachers need insects, maybe others need them, too," says Meissen. He was right--the first summer he sold three collections and netted about $2,000.

Make a Note of It
Kenny Kirkpatrick's business started on a whim. "I saw an ad in a woodworking catalog for kits to make pens," explains 19-year-old Kirkpatrick, owner of Ken's Pens in Wood River, Nebraska.

On impulse, Kirkpatrick ordered it: "I just tried it for fun and then got really involved." The hobby he started when he was 13 has paid off. Nowadays, Kirkpatrick's handcrafted pens can be purchased in stores across his home state of Nebraska.

Reeling Them In
Charley Baugh's hobby is a little bit fishy. "When I was about 7, my grandmother gave me all of her and my grandfather's tackle boxes, and they were full of old Heddon tackle," says Baugh, who explains that his grandfather worked for Heddon, a well-known fishing lure company.

And so began Baugh's fishing lure collection, which ultimately became a company called Charley's Baits, based in his hometown of Wills Point, Texas.

Though he started out selling lures, Baugh, now 17, has since expanded his business to include old duck decoys, hunting items and fishing lamps--homemade lamps he creates from fishing gear such as tackle boxes and lures.

Music to the Ears
Chase Feenan's hobby-turned-business is music to his ears--literally. As the owner of Tidal Waves, a mobile DJ business based in Houston, 17-year-old Feenan gets paid for partying. "I had a friend who was a DJ at parties, and I always thought that would be fun," he explains.

Fun--and profitable. Chase and his partner, friend Tyler Renaudin, earn an average of $250 to $300 per night.

So what'll it be? Many young people dream of being their own boss. And businesses that begin as hobbies may be the best opportunities of all. As famous entrepreneur Harvey Mackay once said, "Find something you love to do, and you'll never have to work a day in your life."

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