Young entrepreneurs find a wide world of opportunities - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Young entrepreneurs find a wide world of opportunities

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Posted: Tuesday, June 10, 2003 9:31 am | Updated: 2:01 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Cassy Saba is a jewelry designer. Like any good businesswoman, she has business cards and is developing a Web site. She hosts parties at clients’ homes to sell her necklaces, bracelets and earrings, which cost $15 to $450.

One of her most loyal customers, Mary Krausman of Chandler, is 47.

Cassy is 12.

"I’ve always loved fashion," said Cassy, owner of Cassy Sassy Jewelry. "I started with plastic stuff, and then gradually began to use semiprecious stones."

This summer, some East Valley kids will go beyond mowing lawns and making lemonade to earn some cash. And though the young entrepreneurs might not get rich, the benefits are priceless.

"Kids love the satisfaction of doing something themselves," said 27-year-old Daryl Bernstein of Scottsdale. "It gives them an incredible sense of self-reliance."

When he was 15, Bernstein wrote and published "Better Than a Lemonade Stand!: Small Business Ideas for Kids." The book, available at East Valley libraries, takes a stepby-step approach to starting a business — from a teenager’s point of view.

Bernstein said kids are often surprised by how easy it is to start a business. Even the simplest ideas, like emptying a neighbors’ trash cans, can turn into a lucrative venture.

"All you have to do is find something people want, and supply it," said Chris Burton, 19.

Burton was self-employed as early as age 8, when he sold candy to kids from the driveway of his Mesa home. Since then, Burton has peddled fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets in Mesa and Gilbert and rare coins at the Arizona Coin Expo and on the Internet.

Today, Burton, a recent graduate of the business school at Rio Salado College, makes money selling rare and out-of-print movies online at /cburton51.

"Everybody who has ever lived has had the potential to do whatever they want," Burton said.

According to Barry Van Hook, a professor of management at Arizona State University, the challenge for many young entrepreneurs is getting people to take them, and their business, seriously. Cassy, whose poise rivals that of people twice her age, has an advantage: Her mom, Sandra White, owns Sincerely Sandra, a Chandler company that offers courses in teen image development.

But, Van Hook said, any child can learn to be professional.

"Have a dedicated telephone line, one that you answer in a professional fashion. Look at business cards that serious people use, and model yours after that," he said. "Have a real e-mail address that sounds like there is a grown-up on the other end. When you have an e-mail address like hotsytotsy, it’s pretty tough for anyone to take you seriously."

Dress can also be an issue. Although no one expects a 14-year-old to walk dogs in a suit and tie, Van Hook said it might be necessary for kids to tone down their look.

"Sometimes we have to learn to compromise with what other people’s expectations of our appearance are going to be, as opposed to what we like," he said.

Advertising is another vital part of business. In "Better than a Lemonade Stand!", Bernstein suggests kids distribute flyers, post notices in churches and on public bulletin boards and talk to owners of stores whose customers may be interested in their service.

Just how complex a business becomes is up to the kid. Starting a bank account may be necessary if an ample amount of money is made, but such "adult" responsibilities are not a must.

Twelve-year-old Donald Oesterle, who sells his metal sculptures at Rage Cycles in Scottsdale, has yet to balance a checkbook. Instead, he uses much of the money he makes towards store credit at Rage. The rest he saves.

"He’s an awesome money manager," said his mom, Rebecca Oesterle.

Donald makes his sculptures out of old bike parts in his parents’ 4,000-square-foot studio in Phoenix, where they run their business, Oest Metalworks. Beyond providing tools and early instruction, though, Rebecca and Jeff Oesterle have had a limited role in Donald’s venture — as have the parents of other young entrepreneurs we talked to.

The only things moms and dads should be prepared to supply is transportation, some cash to get started, encouragement and a bit of financial advice.

"Spend a half, and save a half," Bernstein said. "I like to encourage kids to enjoy (the money), too."

Where to buy

• Cassy Saba, 12, will sell her jewelry 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Sincerely Sandra, 2950 N. Dobson Road, Suite 14, Chandler. For more information, call (480) 899-2107.

• Sculptures by Donald Oesterle, 12, are sold at Rage Cycles, 2724 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. For more information, call Oest Metalworks at (602) 256-7567.

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