From the April 2002 issue of Startups

(YoungBiz.com) - Being your own boss must be the life. Setting your own hours, giving yourself a raise when business is going good--all while you're doing a job you love. It doesn't get any better than that, right?

Most 'treps love being in business for themselves and wouldn't have it any other way. Not only do they call the shots, but, as young entrepreneurs, they're also getting a head start on what it takes to be a business success.

Flex Time Rules!
One of the biggest pluses to being a young entrepreneur is the flexibility of being your own boss. "There are advantages to having your own business," says Keith Dixon, the 19-year-old owner of Golden Touch Car Wash in Pembroke Pines, Florida. "You can control how many hours you work, how much money you want to make and who will work for you."

Dixon makes house calls to wash his customers' cars, vans and RVs. His business is a hit in his South Florida hometown, where the sun always shines and people want their cars to look good.

Getting Experience
Being a 'trep also gives you a head start in the basics of running a business. Regina Jackson, owner of Regina's Jewelry Designs in Washington, DC, learned a good deal about setting prices and improving her products. After researching her competitors, Regina, then 16, realized she wasn't charging enough for her earrings, bracelets and necklaces.

Jackson also focused on product development. "My jewelry has gotten better than it used to be," she says. "Now I use fishing line instead of string, and it's much better."

Ouch! That Hurts!
As with any pursuit in life, there are pitfalls to watch out for along the way. Jayson Meyer, 19, has what every 'trep dreams of--a company worth six figures and a big office with a view of none other than Daytona Beach, Florida. But it hasn't always been Easy Street for Meyer.

Meyer's hardest lesson came when a stockholder/partner he had trusted with a new project tried to pull a fast one. "He took a lot of sensitive materials, like job bids, and tried to start his own company with those leads," Meyer explains. "I was too trusting. I didn't do enough research into who I was getting involved with."

Being a teenage CEO calls for tough skin and a quick mind. These days, Meyer often consults with his greatest mentor, his father, for advice.

Hiring and Firing
Jen Keller, 18, owner of Strung Out Beads and Wiring, a bead and make-your-own-jewelry store in Somerville, New Jersey, sets her own hours and makes money doing something she loves. It isn't hard to find employees to work in this trendy biz--Keller's store is popular with part-time job-seekers, especially teenagers, because they are interested in making jewelry and having flexible hours.

Keller is living the dream. But she has also lived a business owner's nightmare: firing an employee. The employee in question often arrived late and called in sick. After giving her a few warnings, Jen knew what had to be done.

Looking back, Keller says she should have followed early clues and not hired the girl in the first place. "You need someone who's dependable--someone who will care for your business as much as you do," she says.

No doubt about it, there's lots to be said for starting a business. Not only do you get to make your own hours and call the shots, but you're also well on your way to making your dreams become a reality. And no matter what path you choose down the road, having the entrepreneurial experience under your belt can only work to your advantage. Studies show that people who dabble in business as teens are more successful as adults. So what are you waiting for?

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