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Christy Catherine Marshall

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January 18, 2011

Hey moms,
If you have teenagers in the house, like I do, then you’d probably like for them to have a part-time job to help pay for all the stuff they want and need. Here’s an article by CPA and author Carol Topp to help your teen launch his or her own small business.

Your Teen Can Own a Micro Business:
How to Launch It in Ten Simple Steps
By Carol Topp

“I want to walk dogs; what do I need to do to get started?” asked a teen boy. I had inspired him to think about starting a micro business and he was ready to get going!

I encourage teenagers to start very small businesses—micro businesses. A micro business is a one-person business that can be started easily, usually without any up-front cash, using what a teenager already owns. Micro businesses are usually home-based and very flexible so a busy student can keep up with homework, sports and a social life.

Teenagers can use their skills to develop businesses such as teaching guitar lessons, doing web design or caring for children. Other teenagers have started micro businesses by offering services such as house cleaning, pet care, and lawn mowing. One easy-to-start micro business is tutoring. Some students tutor math, Spanish or computer programs such as Photoshop.

After your teenager has an idea, he or she can launch a micro business in a short amount of time with very little start up money. Share these starting steps with your teen:

1. Conduct a mini market survey. Start by asking a few potential customers if they need your service and what price they are willing to pay.

2. Decide on a price. From the mini-market survey, you should be able to set a fair price. You may get your first customers by undercharging the competition. One teenager charged half what other piano teachers charged and quickly had eight students.

3. Volunteer a few jobs to practice your business skills and build a reputation. Use recommendations from these jobs in your future advertising. Sarah took senior pictures as a favor for a friend and received three other jobs from referrals.

4. Launch your first advertising campaign. Try to use free advertising such as emails, Facebook posts and handing out fliers to friends and neighbors.

5. Work your plan on a small scale. Start with one customer at first. Learn a lot from that experience and grow slowly.

6. Evaluate, adjust and change. As you grow in experience, you may be able to charge more. You will probably need to create a payment policy. Sarah discovered that she needed to be paid up front and have a cancellation policy when she scheduled photo shoots.

7. Pick a name and register it. Usually, you can use your own name, such as Cathy Smith’s Babysitting Service, without needing a name registration. If you do want a business name, learn what your state or local government requires. This website is a good place to start.

8. Open a checking account. Accountants usually recommend a separate business checking account to keep from mixing personal and business expenses. A teenager can usually get by with one checking account, if you keep good records. Usually a parent must agree to be a co-signer on a checking account for minors.

9. Read up on taxes. You’ll need to file your own tax return, may owe federal or state income tax, and may be subject to self-employment tax also. Self-employment tax is Social Security and Medicare taxes for self-employed people.

10. Learn about customer service, marketing and record keeping. Become a student of business and seek to be continually learning more. Read books, take a business class, find a mentor and ask a lot of questions.

Carol Topp, CPA advises teenage business owners through her Micro Business for Teens book series. Carol’s day job is accountant to business owners, and she enjoys teaching teenagers to succeed beyond their dreams. Students appreciate how she shares what they need to know in clear and helpful lessons. Her website is

By: Heather Ivester in: Family,Parenting | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

January 16, 2011

My 7-year-old son has been wearing his Matt Ryan Falcons jersey since the day he got it for Christmas. Every single day.

He puts in on as soon as he walks in the door from school, and with school being out the past five days because of Atlanta’s ice storm, he’s practically lived in it. When I threw it in the wash yesterday afternoon, he followed me around asking every 10 minutes, “Is it washed yet? Is it dried yet?”

So, it was a bitter pill to swallow watching our sports heroes, the Atlanta Falcons, lose 48-21 last night to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl playoffs. We came so close, yet lost out due to a couple of intercepted passes. Quarterback Matt Ryan had a bad night, while Green Bay’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers was on fire.

Oh well. Like many fans, we didn’t stick around to watch the end of the game. It didn’t start until 8:15 pm, and by 10:30 we had lights out around our house.

Still, we’re proud of the Falcons’ great winning season. Last night, I picked up a football themed cake at Wal-Mart, asking the bakery girl to write “GO FALCONS” in red and black icing. We held our own little pre-game party here, and today we’ll enjoy the sweet leftovers.

My son will keep tossing his Falcons football all over the house, but with the ice finally melting, he’ll be back outside, scoring touchdowns in our front yard, dreaming he’s in the Georgia Dome.

And Matt Ryan, wherever you are: we’re still proud to wear your #2 jersey. You gave us all a great ride.

See ya next year.

By: Heather Ivester in: Family | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

January 12, 2011

War Eagle!!!

This has to be one of the best moments in college sports history. With only 2 seconds left on the clock, Wes Byrum kicked a game-winning 19-yard field goal to secure Auburn University’s BCS National Championship.

Here’s a short video of that field goal — I love the sports commentary here! And the excitement of seeing Toomer’s Corner in all its papered glory.

It’s been a long time, folks. Since 1957. You have to let us Auburn fans enjoy our moment of victory!

By: Heather Ivester in: Friendship | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

January 10, 2011

I’m back! And Happy New Year to ya. Seen any good movies lately?

I didn’t think I’d ever see a film like TRON LEGACY (cue sound effects of speeding motorcycles here), but when you have an adorable 7-year-old boy begging you to take him, you start thinking, “Well, maybe it’ll be OK.” Plus, I know in a few years he’ll be too cool to see a movie with his mom.

So — I spent two hours watching men and women in tight fluorescent suits speed around on digital motorcycles shooting light disks at each other. It was bizarre — and fun! We wore our 3D glasses, and I felt like I’d blasted away into a new world. It was an experience beyond what I’m used to, being that I’m mostly a fan of romantic comedies.

The plot centers around a boy, Sam Flynn (played by Garrett Hedlund), whose dad, Kevin Flynn, disappeared 20 years ago. We later find out that Sam’s dad has somehow been stuck inside the virtual world of Tron, a video game he invented. (Tron was apparently popular in the 80s — how did I miss this? I guess I was too busy playing Atari Frogger.)

Sam Flynn spends his early life wondering why his father left him. I really love how the movie director showed the passage of time. Young Sam rides off on his bicycle, you see him speeding along, then he gradually morphs into a 20-something guy riding a motorcyle, still searching for his dad.

There’s a scene where he steps into Flynn’s Arcade, the place where his father used to work, and it’s creepy-eerie for those of us who remember going to arcades. All the games are covered in dusty plastic sheets. It made me feel old!

Sam discovers a hidden room behind the Tron game, and he inadvertently enters through the same portal his dad entered years before. Here, in “the Grid,” he must constantly fight bad guys to preserve his life. Sam finds his missing father, played by Jeff Bridges, but there’s now a digital clone of his dad who has become his arch enemy, Clu.

As I was watching the film, I almost couldn’t stand the fast pace. I liked this guy, Sam, and I wanted him to live! So I kept eating my popcorn faster and FASTER, fearing that every second he might die! Once I’d inhaled my small popcorn, I searched my purse and came up with some Altoids. You can’t eat those too fast, but they kept me busy for a while.

Then I began to like Quorra, played by Olivia Wilde, and I was rooting for both her and Sam to somehow survive this wild mess of virtual battle scenes. I needed more popcorn — or Junior Mints — or something! All this action was intense!

Instead, I discovered some chapstick; well, what I thought was chapstick. I put some on, and since it was just chapstick, I put on plenty. When the movie ended (wow! what a final scene!), I waved and smiled at people as we left the theater, not knowing there was something wrong with my face.

Until … I stepped back into our house, doing a few Olivia Wilde TRON kicks with sound effects to impress my other kids who’d missed out on the movie. My oldest daughter’s eyes got really big when she saw me, and she said, “Mom, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE? Did you, like, get a Tron make-over?”

So I looked in the mirror, and — horrors! — I’d somehow mistaken flesh-colored cover-up for chapstick. My lips were nearly invisible. I looked a little bit like one of the Sirens from Tron. Scary!

So, my opinion is that Tron was fun to watch in 3D. I don’t see how it could compare to seeing it in your home on regular DVD. I’m sure there will be a lot of kids wanting to wear Tron costumes with those laser stripes for Halloween. From a mom’s view, there was no kissing and very little violence, except for video people dissolving into tiny colorful squares. It was similar to Star Wars, with the aircraft scenes.

Still, since the whole theme of the movie revolves around a son trying to rescue his dad, and their relationship, I’d recommend this to be a better movie for fathers and sons to see together.

With plenty of popcorn!

By: Heather Ivester in: Movies | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)