From the August 2003 issue of Startups

(YoungBiz) - What are the three most important factors to consider when deciding where to open a business? Location, location and location! But if you're a teen business owner, location can be a real problem. You may, for instance, have little start-up cash, so there's no way you can afford the high monthly rent of a prime location. And if you did have the money, you're too young to sign the contracts required to rent a storefront or office. And besides, who would mind the store during all those hours you're in school?

Never fear, say our teen 'trep experts. With a little creativity and a lot of determination, you can find a way to solve the location problem and get your business off the ground for little or no upfront cash.

A Place for Everything
While most adult entrepreneurs grapple with the stress of coming up with cash for rent and utilities, office furnishings and salaries for employees, these are areas in which starting small can actually be an asset. All four of our young experts found they could produce their products from home--they just needed to find a good place to sell them.

Next Step
What makes a location great is different for every business. Find out why here.

For Daniel White, the 20-year-old owner of DEWIE Chairs for Children in Houston, where to find his target customers was a no-brainer. "I had a lemonade stand at the soccer field," he explained. "I brought the chairs I had for sale, and I set them out by the stand."

That worked well for a while, he said, but then he realized he needed to reach more kids (and their parents). His solution? Striking a deal with a local day-care center, White was able to display pictures of his chairs, constructed out of PVC pipe and canvas, as well as an order form on the front desk. Some business owners need to be close to their customers, but not White. He simply picked up the order forms once a week and delivered the chairs back to the day-care center when they were ready.

Very Crafty
Perfect, huh? White thought so, too, until he discovered craft shows. "Craft shows don't take too much money to get in," he said. "The average fee for a table is only $40." Not too shabby, considering White sometimes made as much as $1,000 per show during the holiday season.

Erica Gluck, 16, owner of Erica's Pasta in San Diego, came up with a similar solution to sell her fresh pasta, gourmet breads, pesto and flavored oils: farmer's markets. Like craft shows, farmer's markets charge minimal fees for space and get a lot of foot traffic. Gluck sells her products at three different markets in her area.

"I could have opened a business with permits and everything, but this is so easy," she explains. "It's outside, and, unlike a store or shop, it isn't 10 hours a day."

Let's Make a Deal
Like White, Maggie and Allie Cawood-Smith, the 15-year-old twin owners of Beet Lips in Auburn, California, found the best way to sell their herbal lip and skin balm was to make agreements with other local businesses. The biggest factor was transportation to get to and from the other stores. Luckily, their parents were happy to chauffeur.

"We hopped in the van and went store-to-store in town to small businesses like produce stores, gift shops, coffee shops and small grocery stores," Allie says. "Some stores pay us upfront, and others prefer consignment. We put the product on the counter next to the cash register with fliers and a small sign saying how much it costs."

The Perfect Spot
These creative solutions all work well, but Gluck and the Cawood-Smith sisters agree that there is another perfect business location out there: the Web. Some thought it was odd when Gluck began selling her food products at www.pastapress.com several years ago, but with the number of gourmet food sites around now, turns out she was just a little ahead of the trend.

The twins, who sell their balm at www.ourfamily.beetlips.com, also offer a glowing endorsement of Web sales. "We made $700 in one month the Christmas before last," Maggie explains.

So if you can't afford a traditional location solution like a storefront or an office, think about some nontraditional ones like these entrepreneurs chose. And remember, location really is one of the most important factors in getting your product into the customer's hands.