Summer micro business idea: Snow Cone Truck

© by Sean Loyless

Looking for a job one summer, 17 year old Iowa teen Austin Moss, stumbled across a snow cone business online.

Austin borrowed money from his grandparents to buy a truck, took a few financial classes, and then got a permit from his city for ASM Shaved Ice

He ran a successful shaved ice business during the summer! As a mobile business, Austin sells shaved ice from his truck and also has worked for companies and private parties.

You can start a micro business just like Austin! Read my book series, Micro Business for Teens, to get started.

Carol Topp, CPA

Think like your customers in order to find them!


In the classic movie, Caddyshack, Bill Murry deals with a pesky gopher. He tries to think like a gopher and says,

“I got to get into this dude’s pelt and crawl around for a few days.

Who’s the gopher’s ally? His friends. The harmless squirrel and the friendly rabbit.”

To find customers for your micro business, you must think like them.

You should ask yourself a few questions to think like your customers:

  • Where do they live?
  • Where do they shop?
  • Where do they spent time?
  • What do they read?
  • What website do they visit?
  • When are they home?
  • Where do they go for information or products?

Here’s an example:

My daughter, Emily, wanted to start teaching piano lessons to children. She knew that she needed to reach a child’s parents, specifically the mother, with her advertising. She knew that many mothers communicated with each other on-line and thought that would be a quick, low cost way to advertise.

Facebook is a great tool, but wouldn’t really work because Emily was connected with her friends there, but not mothers. Instead, she went to where the mothers chatted on-line. She put out a post on our local homeschool e-mail list. Within a few weeks she had three students and then word of mouth took over. One student’s mother told another mother and soon Emily had seven students and was turning away more interested customers.

So think like your customer in order to find them!
Starting a Micro Business for Teens BookMore tips on starting a micro business can be found in Starting a Micro Business. Available in print and ebook.



You might also enjoy this podcast on Creating a Customer Profile.  Carol Sue and Phillip Priddy from  share their expertise on creating a marketing plan and a customer profile for your micro business.

Carol Topp, CPA

Homeschool Heartbeat: Help your student start a micro business

I was pleased to be interviewed by Mike Smith of HSLDA (Home School Leader Defense Association) on their Homeschool Heartbeat program.

click image to listen to the program

Here’s a bit of the transcript:

Mike: Carol, how can young people take something they enjoy and turn it into a business?

Carol: Well, they do what most business owners do—they find a need that they can fulfill and they meet that need, and someone will pay them for it. So they might meet needs with any talent or skill that they might be good at or better than somebody else.

Mike: What’s a practical first step for starting up a small business like this?

Carol: Well, I think you start with thinking about, obviously, what you’re good at. So kids don’t always give themselves credit, but sometimes they’re better at some things like algebra, Spanish, piano, pet care, pet cleaning. And you start thinking about what could I do to offer these services or offer my talents or skills to somebody else. I call it creating a mini-market plan, where you just think about, “Who could I help? How could I charge them? How can I find them?”

Read the rest of the transcript.


In the interview I mention a public television program Starting a Micro Business. Watch it here.

How to pick a good idea for a micro business


I listened to a podcast given by a Harvard MBA who gave 50 things to consider when evaluating a business idea. 50! It made my head hurt.

Micro business should not need 50 things to consider. How about five? Here’s five things to think about when picking an idea for a micro businesses.

1. Do you really like the product or service? Do you use it yourself? You need to be enthusiastic about what you are selling so that people to buy from you. Hopefully, you have used the product yourself and can tell customers how great it is from your personal experience.

2. Is it profitable? Do a cost-benefit analysis to calculate how profitable your business could be. Don;t know who to do a cost-benefit analysis? It’s all explained in Starting a Micro Business.

3. Is there a need? You can’t sell ice to Eskimos-there’s no need,  but you can sell ice in Florida! Evaluate if there is need for your product or service carefully. Try doing some surveys of potential customers or test your product on a few customers first.

4. What are the start-up costs? Micro business should not need a lot of start up money. If your idea takes a lot of money just to start, it is too risky for a micro business. Think about launching another, simpler micro business first to raise the start up money for your second venture.

5. Is it manageable for you? You may have a great idea, but it might consume all your free time. Save that idea for when you have more time and launch a simpler micro now to learn the ropes.

Those five questions are enough to help you determine if your idea would make a good micro business.

Starting a Micro Business for Teens BookMore tips on starting a micro business can be found in Starting a Micro Business. Available in print and ebook.

Carol Topp, CPA

5 Reasons to Start a Micro Business in 2015


The year is coming to a close and now is typically the time when people make New Year’s Resolutions. Why don’t you make it a resolution to start a micro business? Below are 5 Reasons to Start a Micro Business in 2015. Hopefully you will start one after reading through them.

1) You Need Just Yourself To Start a Micro Business

You can start a micro business with just yourself! There’s no need to hire anyone meaning less headache and less paperwork. This makes starting a micro business fast.

2) Little Start-up Money Required

When starting a micro business, little money is needed. In fact, it’s highly inadvisable to take on debt when starting your micro business.

Typically when a teenager starts a micro business, they use the equipment and knowledge they already possess.

3) You Can Start One At Home

Most teenagers who start a micro business, run them inside of their home. With most business transactions happening online these days, a physical location isn’t required for selling products. If you are selling a service, most customers or clients are served virtually or by meeting them in a location that convenient to them.

An example of providing a service virtually is Virtual Assistance work. You can provide your services like web design, writing blog posts, updating a client’s FaceBook page, or providing graphical expertise all over the Internet. Even if the client wants to meet you face-to-face, you can still do this virtually using Skype or FaceTime. When it comes time to get paid, you can email or use a invoicing software and get paid via the client’s debt or credit card.

4) A Micro Business is Manageable and Flexible

Your micro business can run around your schedule. If you are still a teenager in school, you can work on your business in the evenings after school and when homework is finished. If you want to start a micro business teaching piano lessons, you can make your schedule only available on weekends. A micro business is very flexible around the timeline you want to run it.

5) More Rewards Than a Traditional Job

One of the fantastic perks of running a micro business is you can use regular business tax deductions. If you need a printer for printing out flyers or labels for your micro business, purchase the printer and keep the receipt! Most purchases that are used for your micro business are completely deductible.

Think about this, if you love video production and need a nice MacBook Pro to edit videos for a client, guess what? That computer can be deducted on your tax forms at the end of the year!

Starting a Micro Business for Teens BookNow that you’ve seen the benefits of starting a micro business, doesn’t it make you want to begin as quickly as possible? If you’re still questioning starting one, then maybe my book, Starting a Micro Business, can help! In my book, I discuss if starting a micro business is right for you. Check it out today and get 2015 off to a fantastic start!


Carol Topp

Brainstorming micro business ideas


Do you need an idea for a micro business?

In this podcast, Dollars and Sense Show, host Carol Topp, interviewed teenagers doing a brainstorming exercise on micro business ideas.

Listen in and you’ll be impressed by the terrific micro business ideas they came up with!

Some of the audio is a bit difficult to hear because the room was full of a lot of brainstorming activity!

Photos of the student’s brainstorming.

If you’d like more micro business ideas visit idea blog posts.

or the Micro Business for Teens Ideas Pinterest page

Starting a Micro Business for Teens BookDo you have a great idea and need help starting your micro business? Micro Business for Teens books and videos will get you started.

Carol Topp

5 Ways You Can Start a Micro Business Without Debt

5 Ways You Can Start Your Own Micro Business Without Debt

Starting a micro business doesn’t mean going into debt to do so. Last week I wrote a blog post on the problems with debt when starting a micro business. This week I wanted to show you some of the best ways you can raise or earn money toward starting your own micro business.

Starting a Micro Business Without Debt

Let’s look at 5 tried and true ways you can start a micro business without debt. Any or all of these ideas can help you generate your start-up cash. Just remember to keep your micro business manageable and as debt free as possible.

#1 Save the Money First

While many small business owners think that they need a loan to start a business, most micros don’t need one! In fact, why would you even want a loan if you don’t need it? A loan puts a drain on your profits!

Rather than getting a loan, consider saving some money first.  Think of it as paying yourself first. If you could pay back a loan, you should be able to save up some money beforehand. Saving up the cash first is better than going into debt.

#2 Start as a Hobby

Have you ever thought about starting your micro business as a hobby? This means you aren’t starting it with the goal of making a profit, rather to break even. This teaches you a lot about marketing, pricing, expenses, etc. But you don’t have to worry about making the profit from your work. Instead you’re aiming to learn a lot.

#3 Find an Investor, But Not a Partner

Investors are willing to make a loan to a new business and may not expect to be repaid for a long period, if ever. Investors could be your parents, grandparents or a business mentor.

The reason I’m against partnerships, especially with friends, is because a partnership is like marriage but without being in love. You are legally responsible for everything good or bad that your partner does to the business. Remember that even a verbal agreement is considered a partnership in the court room. Be careful and consult an attorney before ever striking a partnership with anyone.

 #4 Sell something to raise cash

Items that you no longer use such as: electronics, a musical instrument, or collectables could be sold at a garage sale, on Craigslist, or eBay. This money could be used toward launching your micro business.

#5 Work a temporary job

Sometimes raising money toward starting a micro business means working for someone else initially. Work retail over Christmas or deliver pizzas for a few months to earn some cash.

Not only will this job help raise money for your micro business, it will also teach you time management skills. These are important skills to know when starting your own business.

What Else Do I Need Besides Money When Starting a Micro Business?

Starting a micro business requires way more than just start-up funds. You need a good idea, a solid business plan, and most likely a business mentor. In fact my book, Starting a Micro Business, covers all these topics and much more! I encourage you to check out the book today. It’s available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle edition as well as on my website.

P.S. The Kindle edition is only $4.95 and can be shared with your family on different Kindles, iPads, iPhones, or other tablet devices! Perfect for homeschooling families on a budget.

Carol Topp

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Start a Micro Business With Debt

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Start a Micro Business with Debt

When you start a micro business, it shouldn’t require that you go into debt to do so. In fact, most micro businesses can be started with out any start up funds at all!

One thought for teenagers is to start a small micro business to fund another larger business. When you start a micro business without debt, you’ll be able to pocket more money as profit or put the money back into the business.

Why You Shouldn’t Start a Micro Business With Debt

There are several reasons why I discourage debt when starting a micro business. But you don’t just have to take my word for it! Below are 3 of the most important reasons why you shouldn’t start a micro business with debt. The reasons are backed up with quotes from the Bible and other influential leaders.

#1 Debt Presumes Upon The Future

When you go into debt to start a micro business, you are taking a risk! You are betting that you will have the money in the future that you don’t have today.

This presumption is dangerous because none of us know what lies ahead. It’s really risky for any of us to presume that we can predict the future.

James 4:14 says, “Why, you don’t even know what will happen tomorrow…”

#2 The Use of Debt Encourages Quick or Rash Decisions

If you are able to get a loan quickly or borrow money from your parents, you won’t take the time necessary to consider other funding method. You also won’t be as creative in finding the needed money or equipment.

Remember that careful planning and decision making can really pay off financially. It can also help you avoid many mistakes.

Proverbs 21:5 says, “Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you further behind.” Another quote I like is from Benjamin Franklin, “He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing.”

#3 Debt Make You a Slave to the Lender

When you in debt, you aren’t free. This is because you are under obligation to pay back what is due to another person.

Debt is a burden that will drag you and your business down.

Remember this verse from Proverbs 22:7, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the slave to the lender.”

Finding an Alternative

Starting a micro business without debt is very possible. In fact my book, Starting a Micro Business, has a whole chapter dedicated to financing your micro without breaking the bank.

But the book isn’t just about debt and finances. Also talked about is how to find an idea for a business (free chapter is available), how to write out a business plan, how to avoid common problems & pitfalls, and much more! I encourage you to check out the book today. It’s available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle edition as well as on my website.

P.S. The Kindle edition is only $4.95 and can be shared with your family on different Kindles, iPads, iPhones, or other tablet devices! Perfect for homeschooling families on a budget.

Carol Topp, CPA

Icon used in image above made by Freepik from is licensed under CC BY 3.0

3 More Reasons Not To Choose A Product-based Business

3 More Reasons Not To Choose a Product-based Business

Last week I wrote a blog post listing 7 Reasons Not To Choose A Product-based Business. Just in case, they didn’t convince you, I’m giving you 3 more.

  1. Record keeping: You may need software to help track your inventory. If you sell more than one or two items, inventory tracking can become too complex to be done on paper or in a spreadsheet. You will probably need to invest in small business software like Quickbooks.
  2. End of year count: Your accountant will need to know the value of your inventory at the end of the year in order to prepare your tax return. Allow some time around December 31 to count every item in storage. Be sure you keep good records on what you paid for each item also
  3. Sales tax: You may need to collect sales tax on products you ship. The sales tax rules and rates vary by state and usually by county and city. The sales tax rules are complex and you should keep excellent, detailed records and get advice from an accountant.

Starting_small-259x300This is why I recommend starting a service-based business in my book, Starting a Micro Business. A service-based business is low-risk, easy to start and easy to close down if need be. It also doesn’t have any inventory to worry about and most often requires no or very little start-up costs. A service-based buy is usually selling what you hold between your ears; your knowledge.

Learn more about starting a micro business by grabbing a copy of, Starting a Micro Business, today!

Carol Topp

Why a micro business works for teens

Recently the Ozark Ramblings blog reviewed the Micro Business for Teens books. The post gives a nice summary what a micro business is and why it’s such a great way for a teenager to make money.

Some of the characteristics of a micro business and why they work for teens.

  • Simple and fast to start up—Immediate gratification, not months and months of planning.
  • Usually only one worker—no complications of payroll tax, Social Security Administration or unemployment to worry about.
  • Sole proprietorship—no contracts, partnership negotiations, or lawyers to file incorporation documents.  Also makes closing a business much simpler.
  • Little start up money needed—starting a micro business shouldn’t mean taking on debt
  • Usually home-based—no need to rent space, easy to move (when the teen goes to college)
  • Low risk—you don’t have to be the next Bill Gates or create something entirely new, it can be a time-proven option like mowing lawns or babysitting
  • Manageable—teens still need time for school and socializing.  A micro business should be similar to working a part time job.
  • The worker can learn while earning—a teen can earn money and learn time-management, marketing, bookkeeping, customer service, etc.


Read other reviews of Micro Business for Teens here.