Start Planning Now for a Summer Business

If starting a summer business on the side is in your plans, don't wait until the last minute to plan for it.
Magazine Contributor
5 min read

This story appears in the March 2003 issue of Teen Startups. Subscribe »

When you hear the word summer, what comes to mind? Endless days at the beach? Pool parties, matinees, trips to the mall? OK. Back to reality. What about earning some extra cash?

Sure, you could get a job working somewhere for the summer. Let's run down the list of possibilities. The local movie theater is looking for ticket-takers. The ice cream parlor downtown is looking for servers. And the grocery store on the corner is looking for baggers.

Doesn't sound like quite your cup of tea? What about a job where you could set your own hours, do something you love and make money doing it? Sound too good to be true? It isn't. Check out the summer businesses that these teens are cashing in on.

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Have Fun in the Sun
Lots of teens may dream about getting paid to spend the lazy days of summer floating around on a pontoon boat, but Natalie Peace will actually be doing it. Peace, a 19-year-old sophomore at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, will spend this summer running a floating concession stand on a popular lake in Southeast Michigan.

She spent last summer working as a filing clerk in the medical records office of a local hospital. While that job earned her some valuable experience as well as some cash for college, Peace thinks running her own business will give her a different kind of experience. "I think running my own business will not only be an alternative way to make money, but I'll also gain experience in the business world as I learn about starting a business," she said.

Though Peace's daily work selling hot dogs, chips, ice cream, pop and bottled water on the lake won't start until the summer boating season officially kicks off Memorial Day Weekend, she's already busy getting her ducks in a row.

With the help of her aunt and uncle, whose house on the lake will be Peace's home base, Peace has been busy registering her business's name with the county and obtaining a sales tax license. She must also take a food safety class from the county health department in order to obtain a business license.

Once she returns from college in early May, she'll begin publicizing her business to the local lake population. While Peace admits there are a lot of steps to take before selling that first hot dog, she thinks it will be worth it. This summer, she says, making money and having fun in the sun will be one and the same.

Party On!
Believe it or not, Kiera Kramer, 20, came up with her business idea by watching her parents party. "They would invite people to dinner who they really wanted to talk to, but they'd never get a chance to visit because they were too busy cooking and cleaning," Kramer says. "I just thought there'd be a good market for someone who would come in, serve food and clean up the mess."

Together with her close friend, Jaclyn Van Bourgondien, 20, Kramer started Parties Perfect, a party service business in Southold, New York. Start-up costs were minimal--the partners spent $96 for business cards, thank-you notes and white blouses with "Parties Perfect" embroidered on them. They spread the word and gave their business cards to equipment rental companies and caterers for potential referrals. Their first break came when a friend's parents hired them to work at a dinner party.

Talk of Parties Perfect's professionalism, reliability and convenient services spread rapidly after the first job. They are now booked about three weekends a month.

Kramer says being your own boss is as awesome as it sounds. "It's definitely better than working for someone else," she says. "You don't have to answer to people. You get to hire employees. It's a good experience, plus the money is a lot better."

Grow Money at Home
Blair Sheridan Barber doesn't mind getting up a little early in the summer--when there's money involved, that is. In fact, for the past few summers, this Phoenix, Maryland, teen has been up at the crack of dawn most days, tending his garden and selling homegrown tomatoes with a sign in his front yard advertising Blair's Tomatoes.

Barber, 18, starts working on his summer business in May, which is when he plants the tomatoes. By June, he's up every morning by 7 a.m. to water the garden, pick the ripe tomatoes and set up his stand.

On most days, Blair's Tomatoes opens around 8 a.m. and closes at dusk. Because his stand is located in a convenient, high-traffic area where many people travel to and from work, he attracts plenty of repeat customers.

Like many 'treps, Barber ran his business only during the months of June, July and August. Not only was it a good time for growing tomatoes, but it was also a good time for him since it didn't interfere with school.

Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? A summer business could be the perfect trial run. Why not give it a go?

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