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




10 Commandments of Customer Service

Jordan Budd, business owner of OBX Seafood

Jordan Budd, business owner of OBX Seafood

I love these customer service tips and I have edited them a bit for teenager’s running a micro business (that’s why there’s not 10!).

The Ten Commandments of Great Customer Service

From Susan A. Friedmann, for

Know who is boss. You are in business to service customer needs, and you can only do that if you know what it is your customers want. When you truly listen to your customers, they let you know what they want and how you can provide good service.

Be a good listener. Take the time to identify customer needs by asking questions and concentrating on what the customer is really saying. Listen to their words, tone of voice, body language, and most importantly, how they feel.

Identify and anticipate needs.
Customers don’t buy products or services. They buy good feelings and solutions to problems. The more you know your customers, the better you become at anticipating their needs. Communicate regularly so that you are aware of problems or upcoming needs.

Make customers feel important and appreciated.
Treat them as individuals. Always use their name and find ways to compliment them, but be sincere. People value sincerity. It creates good feeling and trust. Thank them every time you get a chance.

Know how to apologize.
When something goes wrong, apologize. It’s easy and customers like it. The customer may not always be right, but the customer must always win. Deal with problems immediately and let customers know what you have done.

Give more than expected. Since the future of all companies lies in keeping customers happy, think of ways to elevate yourself above the competition. Consider the following:
  • What can you give customers that they cannot get elsewhere?
  • What can you do to follow-up and thank people even when they don’t buy?
  • What can you give customers that is totally unexpected?


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




What Teens and Recent Grads Need to Know About Money



Managing money is a valuable life lesson. In Carol Topp’s podcast she discusses what teenagers and recent graduates need to know about managing money.

Listen to the podcast

This Handout lists helpful resources for teaching teenagers about managing money.


Carol’s also has a 4-part podcast series on teaching kids about money:

Episode 7: Teach Preschoolers About Money

Episode 8: Teach Kids About Money

Episode 9: Teach Pre-Teens About Money

Episode 10: Teach Teenagers About Money


Career Cover-100px

Carol’s newest book Career Exploration for Homeschool High School Students is available in print and ebook format. Learn more.

We’re Not Raising Children! (or maybe we are!)




Are today’s parents guilty of micro managing our teenagers?  Or being helicopter parents?

This episode of the Dollars and Sense Show podcast is part 1 of a two-part workshop Carol Topp presented at the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati last year titled, “Were Not Raising Children, We’re Raising Grown Ups.”

Carol discusses the topic of sheltering our children too much and for too long so that they are ill equipped for adult life.

Listen here

Grab your handout here

Mentioned in the podcast:

  • The Self-Propelled Advantage Joanne Calderwood
  • Parenting for the Launch Dennis Trittin
  • Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother Amy Chua
  • Setting The Records Straight Lee Binz,
  • Phil Vischer podcast at

In Part 2 Carol will share important life skills your teenager needs to know, such as: career choice, money management and living independently. She will share tips on how to impart important lessons in a natural way and share resources to help you raise a grown up!

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 find your customers. Marketing and creating a customer profile podcast


Do you have a product or service to sell, but don’t have a clue about how to find a buyer?

You’re not alone. A lot of micro business owners have a great product or service, but need help with marketing and finding customers.

We’ve got help. In this edition of the Dollars and Sense podcast, host Carol Topp will be talking to Carol Sue and Phillip Priddy from about creating a customer profile.

Listen to the podcast here

Philip and Carroll Sue decided that they wanted to teach their children how to open and run their own businesses from an early age. Each child starts his or her first business at 8 years old, does a product addition at 10 years old and starts a second business at 12 years old, and so on. Each child is responsible to negotiate with vendors, maintain records of costs, income and expenditures, maintain inventory, etc. Wow!

In the podcast we discussed:

  • Family Business a series of webinars offering training to families interested in launching a business together. New sessions starting in February 2015. Purchase and listen to the pre-recorded sessions at
  • Getting and serving customers
  • What is a customer profile?
  • How a customer profile helps in marketing?
  • How can a micro business owner have more success and fewer mistakes in marketing?
  • How does a business owner know when to persist in a marketing campaign and when to give up and move on?

If you enjoyed this episode of the Dollars and Sense podcast, please leave a review on iTunes. (click on View in iTunes to leave a review)

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

Teen Entrepreneur Turns Down Apple

Teenage Entrepreneur Turns Down Apple

Teenage Entrepreneur Turns Down Apple

He’s only 19-years-old and he already has close to 40 apps on the App Store!

John Meyer has been an app developer since freshman year of high school. One of his first apps he developed was, Just Light, a flash light app that has been downloaded more than 2 million times!

When John was 16, he wanted to go to Apple’s popular WWDC conference for developers. His only problem was their age requirement; you had to be 18. That didn’t stop John from finding a way around the system. He asked his dad to buy the ticket for him. Then they both flew out to San Francisco and his dad gave John the ticket to go.

“I was 16 and anyone under 18 wasn’t allowed. It was right after the successful flashlight app. My dad got the ticket from Apple, flew back home and left me in San Francisco,” he laughs.

The good news is Apple has since changed its rules and now dedicates a whole teen program just for young developers.

John says he’s really been able to make a connection with many of the Apple staff saying, “I’ve been close with a lot of people at Apple, from going to Apple’s developer conference every year. I’m in a field where I’ve done a lot of things already, an expansive portfolio of projects I’ve worked on.”


Apple CEO, Tim Cook standing with John Meyer

Apple CEO, Tim Cook standing with John Meyer

His expertise and connections with Apple actually landed him a job offer to work as an intern for Apple. For many, this is a killer job! Interns at Apple can make close to $5,723 a month. But John turned it down saying, “I am, at heart, an entrepreneur. I won’t be happy working for someone else.”

Although a college age 19-year-old, John decided that college isn’t for him. Instead he’s decided to pursue building his own startups. One of his startups is Fresco News. Fresco basically takes Instagram, Twitter, and Flipboard and turns photos from ordinary people on the scene of big news events into news stories.

His startups are definitely keeping him busy and although college could be a possibility in the future, right now he’s just happy with making apps for fun and profit.

H/T: Business Insider

Career Exploration Part 2. Personality Tests



This is the second part of a four part series on career exploration for high school students

Listen here

The 4 Step Career Exploration Process

1. Investigate: Discover your personality, abilities, skills, and priorities.
2. Match possible careers to your personality.
3. Research potential careers to see if there is a fit.
4. Prepare a plan to pursue your career choice.

Step 1 is to investigate your personality, abilities, skills, and priorities. Start by List skills, interests, talents, and what do you spend time doing.

Also ask your friends and parents to list your strengths and talents.

Personality Tests

There are several online personality tests that can be helpful and fun.
At —Take the Jung Typology Test. It is free and should take you about 10 minutes.

My tests show I am an ISTJ and some of the careers listed include: Engineering and Accounting! Amazing! Those have been my two major careers! This website offers another type of personality test. It classifies people into one of four temperaments.

Click on “Take the KTS-II!” in the upper right corner. It asks for an email address. After you determine your temperament, read about it and good jobs for you.—This is a fantastic personality test related to occupations. There is a fee involved of approximately $10, but it is well worth the small fee!
I mention ebook

I also recommend Career Direct from Crown Financial Ministries. It is much more in depth than the others listed above and also considers your personal values and Christian occupations. Cost $80 without a consultant or more if you desire to work with a consultant.


Listen in to Career Exploration Part 3, Episode 21 of the Dollars and Sense Show as I discuss how to research possible careers.

Carol Topp, CPA

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.