Is the Term “Micro Business” Demeaning?



The New York Times Small Business section opened a discussion:

Is the Term ‘Small Business’ Demeaning?

Do you consider yourself a small-business owner? Or does that phrase make you cringe? Often, the terms entrepreneur and small-business owner are used interchangeably — but that’s not quite right either. Clearly, not all entrepreneurs are small-business owners and not all small-business owners are entrepreneurs. Still, there has to be some way to distinguish big businesses from, uh, … not big businesses.

Is there a better term? Does anyone have a suggestion?

Here are some of the comments:

Does it really matter what people call as long you are getting satisfaction from what you are doing and you are convinced that you are making a significant contribution to the economy?

When people ask me what I do, I do not say I own a small business, I say I own my own business. Nobody really cares if you own a small or big biz, they only care what you can do for them on a personal level.

the term small business is not demeaning; I think many people would rather be self-employed. I think society would be better off if there were more small business owners.

Entrepreneur in French has 2 meanings:1) It means being “un chef d’entreprise” or the head of a business. 2) It defines somebody who undertakes. From the verb Entreprendre.So all business owners are Entrepreneurs both by being business owners and undertakers.

I also agree the term is just way too broad. I suggest a new name for really small businesses (say, self-employed or freelancers up to 5 or 10 employees) be referred to as micro businesses.

I really like that last comment about micro businesses!

No way is the term micro business demeaning!

Most people admire you when tell them that you started and run a micro business.  They will probably ask you how you did it. Be sure to send them to send them here!


My book, Running a Micro Business, has more tips on running a micro business

Carol Topp, CPA is the author of the Micro Business for Teens







Never Say These Things to Your Customer



Adapted for teenage micro business owners from:

15 Things Retailers Should Never Say

Negative Customer Service Phrases to Avoid

By Shari Waters, for

Shari has a great list of 15 things to never say to a customer.  Most apply to a retail business, like a store in a mall, so I pared down her list to those that most apply to teenage micro business owners.

1. I Don’t Know

Customers don’t expect retailers to know everything, but when it comes to answering a product question or other inquiry, they do expect the salesperson to be confident enough in their knowledge of the business to provide an answer.

Better: “That’s a good question. Let me find out for you.”

3. Calm Down

There may not be a more infuriating phrase in customer service than this one. If a customer has reached a boiling point and is ranting away, the best thing to say is nothing. Let the customer finish. Once he or she has gotten everything out, they will begin to feel better and may be more receptive to a solution.

Better: “I apologize.”

8. I Can’t Do That

This is another negative customer service phrase that should be banned from all store staff.

Better: “What I can do is ___.”

14. I’m Busy Right Now

Have you ever said, or heard, the following? “If it weren’t for customers, I could get some work done.” If you are in retail, chances are you’ve at least thought it. The truth is, without customers retailers wouldn’t have a job.

Better: “I’d be happy to help you.”



My book, Running a Micro Business, has more tips on serving your customers.


Carol Topp, CPA is the author of the Micro Business for Teens




Why a Business Might Fail (but yours won’t!)


Meredith Curtis discusses why a business might fail. She offers straight talk that some people may not like, but she speaks from more than 10 years of experience in running her own small business and backs up her observations with several verses from the Bible.
Three things cause businesses to fail.

Lack of Self-Government

“Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control” (Proverbs 25:28 NIV).

A business owner without self-control will not be able to run her business effectively. Self-government is simply the ability to run your own life well, control your emotions, manage your time, manage your money, maintain healthy relationships, and follow through with personal plans and goals.Without the ability to manage yourself, you will not be able to manage a business.

Lack of Scheduling

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12 NIV).

Hard work is required to get a business off the ground. Hours and hours of work must be scheduled into your life without taking away from the priorities of family, church, and time with the Lord. If you cannot prioritize and schedule your life, you might let important things in your life and new business fall through the cracks.

Lack of Administrative Abilities

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:3-4 NIV).

Bookkeeping, accounting, record keeping, and other administrative tasks have always bored me, but I realize their importance in a successful business. You not only risk trouble with the Internal Revenue Service  (IRS) and other government agencies, but you can find your self in trouble with customers, employees, and vendors if you are not careful.


How about you?  Are you self controlled, in control of your schedule, and able to handle administrative tasks? You may not be perfect in all those areas, but running a micro business can be a great way to learn those skills!

The lessons you learn by running a micro business will help you  later whether you open another, larger business or work for an employer. So, don’t be afraid to start if you lack some of the skills mentioned.

My Micro Business for Teens books will get you started running a micro business and learning important skills while your still a teenager. Just think how much father ahead you’ll be in 5 years!




Carol Topp, CPA is the author of the Micro Business for Teens books.



Sale on Micro Business for Teens books

In celebration of my 50th podcast episode, I’m offering a sale on my Micro Business for Teens books.


I rarely offer sales on my Micro Business books, so grab your copies today. The sale runs only through the month of September 2015.

(The price will be reflected at checkout through my website)

My 50th podcast episode is 30+ Micro Business Ideas


Listen as I share more than 30 micro business ideas a teenager (or a parent ) can start quickly and easily.

More podcast episodes on starting and running a micro business

All my Micro Business for Teens books

Starting a Micro Business video (an hour long public television program on YouTube)

Entrepreneurship: The Great Opportunity for Students webinar recording available



Back in June, I joined Woody Robertson of College Plus and Andrew Pudewa of Institute for Excellence in Writing for a webinar on:

Entrepreneurship: The Great Opportunity for Students

In this webinar, three passionate entrepreneurs discussed the prospect of starting a business from the perspective of a student. They’ll share tips and tricks, discuss the common mistakes and barriers when starting a business, and explain how to overcome unexpected challenges.

We discussed:

  • 5 steps to turning your ideas into a business
  •  The common pitfalls of entrepreneurs
  •  3 reasons every teen should start a business

If you missed the live webinar, you can view it here:

Entrepreneurship Webinar

I hope you enjoy the webinar!

Carol Topp

Entrepreneurship Contest 2015


Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) and College Plus are sponsoring an entrepreneurship contest this summer.

Prizes include CASH (!), consultation on marketing, college class in entrepreneurship and a college scholarship.

To participate, students need to do the following:

  1. Create and implement a business plan. (The contest is for new businesses only. The business cannot have been in existence prior to May 2015.)
  2. Include visual aids: product, website if applicable.
  3. Produce a video, 5 minutes or less in length. (See contest details for more information.)
  4. Upload the completed video to YouTube or Vimeo, and send us the link by August 31, 2015.

Entries must be submitted by August 31, 2015. Winners will be announced at the IEW webinar on September 28th, 2015. Students who started a business shortly before the opening of the contest may still apply, but the staff at IEW will review each entry regarding eligibility.

Click here to download complete details of contest.

Have you started your business? Have questions? Need help? See our FAQ page.

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.

What Do You Give an Entrepreneur for Christmas?


Carol Topp, host of the Dollars and Sense Show podcast has some unique gift ideas for the entrepreneur in your family.

Listen to the podcast here

Gifts for Entrepreneurs just starting:

White Board  and markers (for brainstorming). See Dollars and Sense Show #27 Brainstorming Micro Business Ideas


EIN (from and DBA (Doing Business As name registration in your county or state)

Consultation with an accountant. Contact me, Carol Topp, CPA!


Marketing Gifts for Entrepreneurs:

Logo design. I use The Graphic Lady. (listen how I completely messed up her website name in the podcast!)

Business cards. is where I get mine printed.

Banners, brochures, posters, postcards, etc (Vistaprint again!)

Website hosting and domain name. I use (but you don’t have to be a mom!)

WordPress Premium Theme or Plugins. I could spent a lot of money at Studio Press and  WPMUDev!


Gifts for Entrepreneurs who are up and running a micro business

Tax return with a local CPA

Virtual assistant to help with 100 things like blogging, social media, video production, audio editing, etc.

Technology: flash drives, PCs, iPads, cameras, etc.

Sales awards


Here are some lists from others on Christmas gifts for entrepreneurs


If you’d like to give me a Christmas gift, I’s like a review on iTunes. (click on View in iTunes to leave a review)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Carol Topp, CPA

Tips from parents of entrepreneurs


Are you hoping to raise an entrepreneur?

Maybe your child is full of ideas to make money.

You’ll enjoying meeting 3 parents of teen entrepreneurs in this episode of the Dollars and Sense podcast.

Listen to the podcast.

In this podcast, 3 parents, Bob, Suzanne and Jennifer, shared their experiences of how they encouraged their entrepreneurial teenagers. They discussed:

  • Their role as a parent
  • How to school work fit into their students’ lives?
  • What was most difficult for their child?
  • When should a parent step in?
  • How do you encourage entrepreneurship?

Some of their advice:

  • Don’t let school get in the way of your eduction (paraphrasing Mark Twain)
  • Arrange to get schoolwork done first. Balance schedule and manage time.
  • HALT-Never get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired
  • Encourage, knock down obstacles.
  • Work with school to make changes in start time.
  • Find resources, field ideas with your student
  • Encourage. Recognize milestones and achievements. Get advisers.

If you have a teenager who want to make money check out the Micro Business for Teens books and videos.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please leave a review on iTunes. (click on View in iTunes to leave a review)

How to leave a review on iTunes

Thank you!

Carol Topp

Making the Sale. Tips for your Micro Business. Dollars and Sense Show #24


Show #24 Making the Sale. Tips for your Micro Business.

In this podcast, Carol Topp offers tips to micro business owners on how to complete a sale with a customer.

LISTEN to the podcast
runningmb_medThis information is covered in more detail in Carol Topp’s book Running a Micro Business

Many sales are lost because the sales person never asks the customer to buy. That’s seems unbelievable, but it is true. A business owner can spend a lot of time creating a sales presentation and marketing material, but never bring the customer to the point of actually making a purchase.

There are several techniques you can use to move from a sales pitch to completing a sale including asking questions and using forms.


Ask leading questions

  • Would you prefer _________ or ___________(you show different products)?
  • What is the best day to _____________(offer your service)?
  • When would you like me to start?
  • How many ___________ do you need?
  • Would you like to see a price list?
  • Can I get you an order form?
  • What questions can I answer?
  • Would you like me to do ___________ next?

Put paper in their hand

Use an order form, price list, registration form, agreement of services (engagement letter). I use for order forms. I also collect names and emails on my order form.

What to Do if the Customer Doesn’t Seem Interested

  • Ask if you could give a demonstration or a sample. Say “Would you like to see how this works?” “Would you like to taste a sample?”
  • Provide additional information by asking, “Do you have any questions?”
  • Ask if they would like a flier, brochure, or price list. Try to leave something in their ?hands.
  • Ask if they have a friend or neighbor who could use your service. ?Always be polite and thank them for their time or for listening to you, even if they say no. They will remember your politeness and may contact you in the future.


Join Carol’s other podcasts for micro business owners on Creating a Sales Presentation and What to Do If You Don’t Get Paid.

Learn more about starting and running a micro business at