Stuck in a Small Town? Give Entrepreneurship a Go!
Growing up in the small farming town of Colby, Kansas, I distinctly remember feeling frustrated with the lack of job opportunities. You pretty much either worked as a farm hand for a relative or for other area farmers (likely with low pay because “it’s good for you”), or you worked at a fast food place. There simply weren’t a lot of other options for a teen who wanted to get a job and earn some money over the summer or on the weekends.
Another part of the challenge that’s relatively unique to a small town is having to compete with established adults for these entry-level jobs.
At the time, it never occurred to me to pursue entrepreneurship. But now I want to spread the word that teens in small towns need to give entrepreneurship a try.
Entrepreneurship is Key to Small-Town Survival.
A 2012 survey conducted by the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, Heartland Center for Leadership Development, and Nebraska Community Foundation revealed that many small-town youth don’t plan to return to their communities after pursuing higher education due to a lack of career opportunities.
Luckily, there are plenty of business and self-employment opportunities for them.
All that the teenpreneurs need is support and education to help them start their small businesses.Click To Tweet
Many small towns have finally realized that supporting teens and young adults in their entrepreneurial pursuits is key to the survival of their towns. As part of their economic development strategy, small towns have begun adding a number of programs and groups to provide support and education for youth entrepreneurship. In my community, the Chamber of Commerce, the County Economic Development Office, and the County Extension Office are all working hard to support local entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship Provides Valuable Skills and Knowledge.
While, as an employee, you may find yourself in a job where you are no longer learning or growing as an individual, this will likely never be the case if you are an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs have the flexibility and opportunities to grow and change their businesses as they see fit, and to stay on the leading edge of whatever industry they serve.Click To Tweet
Teenpreneurs can benefit from this, as well. While teens can certainly learn lessons about financial responsibilities, respect, customer service, and more from working in traditional part-time jobs, they can also learn these lessons and more by starting their own businesses.
A teenpreneur may even be viewed with more respect if she has a business venture (even a failed one) in her resume when she applies to college, an internship, or a traditional career later in life.
Entrepreneurship Opportunities Exist.
Some opportunities that may be available in a small town include:
Many small towns lack childcare spaces for older children. Toddlers have filled up many daycares, and school-aged children have nowhere to go until their parents are back from work to pick them up. Responsible high schoolers may be able to provide after-school care for a small number of school-aged children.
Pet-Sitting and Grooming
Pet boarding and grooming facilities may be few and far between in small towns. Many of these facilities are often over-crowded, especially on holiday weekends. An entrepreneurial teen who loves pets may be able to start a pet-sitting or pet-grooming business.
Errand or Delivery Service
Elderly community members, those with ailing health, and adults who are too busy to routinely run errands could certainly benefit from having a teenpreneur run those errands for them.
Lawn Mowing and Landscaping
This is a service that teens have traditionally performed to earn money during their summers off from school, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still a good idea.
If you perform your job well and enjoy working outdoors, you may be able to make this into a full-fledged business with several “crews” working under you.Click To Tweet
Teens can also approach local businesses to find out about doing lawn care on a larger scale instead of only focusing on residential lawns.
A Final Thought
Entrepreneurship could be the answer to small-town teens looking to make money, gain experience, and learn new skills. Instead of fretting about the lack of traditional part-time jobs for teens in small towns, you can embrace an opportunity for entrepreneurship that is right in front of you.