Entrepreneurial Teenagers, Then and Now

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Facing an awful economy in which jobs are scarce (especially for teenagers), one 17-year-old high school student from Miami started a business, handed out hundreds of fliers, and offered his services doing all sorts of chores—mowing lawns, yanking weeds, moving furniture, mulching, and so on. He now has two dozen clients, and largely because he couldn’t find an $8-an-hour job working for someone else, he’s earning $12 an hour working for himself.

Jorge Carrera’s story, and his business, Son for Rent, was recently featured in the Miami Herald. My initial reaction to the story was something like: Wow! That’s so amazing! Good for him. But then I thought: Wait a second. Isn’t this basically what teenagers used to do all the time?

Back when I was a kid (cue eye-rolling among anyone under the age of 20), teenagers used to always do odd jobs in the neighborhood—raking leaves, mowing lawns, painting homes, staining decks, shoveling snow off of walkways. Nowadays, it seems like homeowners are always hiring landscapers, plowers, and other professionals to do these jobs, and they’re paying them a lot more than they’d have to pay a teenager to do the work. This is only a theory, of course, because I really don’t know many teenagers who do this sort of stuff anymore. Heck, it’s rare today to hear about a teenager doing these jobs at his own home, in his own backyard, let alone being entrepreneurial and working for the neighbors.

In any case, good for Jorge. Here’s a quote from the young man regarding what’s made his business successful:

“It takes a lot of patience and hard work,” he said. “You have to be on your feet. You have to be respectful and on time.”

Good advice for any employee, no matter where or when you’re working.