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        當前位置: 首頁 » 專業英語 » 英語短文 » 正文

        小鬼當家:kids become the boss

        放大字體  縮小字體 發布日期:2011-03-28  來源:華爾街日報

        The lemonade stand. For some teens, this summertime staple is no longer a pastime, it's a profit center.

        An estimated 120,000 kids in 31 cities are expected to attend one-day entrepreneur-training events in May, called Lemonade Day. The program, launched in 2007 with 2,600 participants, teaches children and teens how to borrow and repay investors who help start their stands, and what to do with profit, including donating some to charity, says founder Michael Holthouse, a Houston philanthropist.

        With summer approaching, an increasing number of high-schoolers around the country are preparing to launch their own start-ups -- and not just lemonade stands. With lawn-mowing businesses, hand-painting of tennis shoes or Bosnian-language computer repairs, teens are bucking long odds in the dismal job market and earning their own mall money or cash for college.

        'If you can't get a job, you can create your own,' says Steve Mariotti, founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, a New York-based nonprofit that provides programs for schools.

        What's more, teen entrepreneurs are borrowing strategies from the pros. Josh Bostick started Josh's Car Wash Service at age 14, driving around his Flower Mound, Texas, neighborhood in a golf cart toting $20 in sponges and soap he bought at Wal-Mart. Today, the 17-year-old is marketing his services through text-message blasts, newspaper ads and an auto trade-show booth. He is planning to hire two friends this summer to help wash a commercial truck fleet, and he is meeting with car dealers to sell his services. Based on his 2011 business plan, Josh recently increased projected revenue this year by 50% to $15,000. 'Things have really been taking off,' he says.

        約什博斯蒂克(Josh Bostick

        One reason, says John Matthews, one of his customers in the Dallas suburb, is top-flight service: Mr. Bostick watches weather forecasts and warns customers of impending rain, suggesting they delay washing their cars until after the storm. Josh says, 'I do lose a good amount of business doing that, but my customers are really appreciative.' He hopes to have $50,000 saved when he leaves for college next year.

        About 3.7% of high-school seniors are interested in becoming business owners or entrepreneurs, based on a survey of 1.9 million students by the National Research Center for College & University Admissions, Lee's Summit, Mo. Interest among younger high-school students is higher, at 4.1% to 4.4%.

        Such programs as the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and Lemonade Day encourage young entrepreneurs to get an early start. Meadow Bob, 10, was so impressed by the cash she and a few friends raised with a Lemonade Day stand two years ago that she came up with a business idea of her own. In search of a product 'that will cool us off' during the summer, Meadow, who lives at Boys and Girls Country of Houston, a nonprofit children's home in Hockley, Texas, took $30 from her savings, bought a snow-cone machine and opened a stand selling the frozen treats at $2 a pop to her 83 schoolmates on campus, she says.

        梅竇•鮑勃(Meadow Bob)

        She has banked about $250 after expenses during her first two summers of operation and plans to open the stand again this summer. 'It is sometimes hard to work,' Meadow says. But she likes running her business; 'when you get it all laid out, it's very simple. And I always have a little bit of time where I can make my own snow cone.'

        Fewer than 30% of teens ages 16 to 19 are likely to find paying jobs this summer, down from 52% in 2000 and about the same as the summer 2010 rate of 29.6%, the lowest since the government began keeping records in the 1940s, says Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, Boston. Beyond general job-market weakness, tighter legal restrictions on youth labor and adult competition for jobs are crowding teens out.

        But teens are finding profitable niche markets in their communities. Bosnian immigrants Belma Ahmetovic, 18, of Wethersfield, Conn., and Zermina Velic, 17, of Hartford, Conn., will be working this summer in Beta Bytes, a home computer services business they started last year to serve the Bosnian community. Their 22-page business plan includes sales projections, a marketing plan and a pie chart showing how they manage their time.

        Ms. Ahmetovic and Zermina deliberately undercut corporate competitors' prices, and their community ties foster customer loyalty. When viruses crashed Alma Pejmanovic's old home laptop, the pair cleaned it up for $100 while saving all her data. 'The word around the community is that these young ladies really know what they're doing,' says Ms. Pejmanovic through an interpreter. The girls are donating 5% of their $2,400 profit so far to One Laptop Per Child, a nonprofit that sends computers to children in developing countries; 'Since both of us come from a war-torn country, we know what it is like to have nothing,' says Ms. Ahmetovic, who immigrated in 2002, two years after Zermina.

        Still other students leverage their Web skills to turn hobbies into profit centers. Sonika Singh started making hand-painted sneakers as gifts for friends at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, Calif., embellishing them with what she calls 'tame graffiti.'

        The shoes were so popular that 'my friends said, 'You need to start selling those,'' she says. 'And what right-minded teen would say no to money?'

        Sonika tested the market by creating a website with a query box to see whether potential customers would surface. After the site drew 'a ton of interest,' she says, eliciting more than 50 requests, she launched 'Rage Shoes' last summer, filling orders at a price of $35 a pair, a few dollars above her costs. The business 'was definitely enough to keep me busy all summer,' says Sonika, who is 17. She banked $450 and plans to continue the business part time this summer.

        Other teen business owners are already honing a preferred-client list. Scott Sladecek, 18, of Spring, Texas, who started a lawn-care business in 2004 with his older brother, says some clients in the past have refused to pay after a job was done. 'We're honest kids. We did the work. But it's not worth taking them to small-claims court for $100.' So he aims his marketing at loyal repeat customers.

        Aided by his brother David, 21, now a junior at the University of Houston, Mr. Sladecek is expanding the company's services to include rock removal, bush trimming and gutter cleaning. The brothers have invested $3,700 in equipment and plan to hire two employees this summer. Scott Sladecek has saved $20,287 for college tuition, and he hopes to have a lot more by the time he departs next fall for Texas A&M University. His intended major: business.


        今年5月,預計將有來自全美31個城市的12萬個孩子參加為期一天的“檸檬水之日”(Lemonade Day)創業培訓活動。這一活動始創于2007年,當時的參加人數是2,600;顒影l起人、休士頓慈善家邁克爾•霍爾索斯(Michael Holthouse)說,活動的主旨是讓青少年學會怎么找投資人借錢擺攤,怎么償還借款,怎么通過捐款給慈善機構之類的方法來處理賺來的利潤。


        位于紐約的創業培訓網路(Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship)是一個為學校提供培訓專案的非營利機構,該機構創始人斯蒂夫•馬里奧蒂(Steve Mariotti)說,“找不到工作的話,你不妨自己給自己打工。”

        這些十多歲的孩子不光自己創業,還從專業人士那里學來了種種戰略。約什•博斯蒂克(Josh Bostick)住在德克薩斯州的弗勞爾芒德(Flower Mound),14歲的時候就辦起了“約什洗車服務公司”(Josh's Car Wash Service)。當時他從沃爾瑪買來了價值20美元的海綿和肥皂,然后就開著一部高爾夫球車在自家周圍轉來轉去。如今,17歲的約什正在通過短信轟炸、報紙廣告和一個汽車展示商亭來宣傳自己的業務。今年夏天,他打算雇傭自己的兩個朋友,一起為一個商用卡車車隊提供清洗服務,還打算去找一些汽車經銷商拉生意。最近,約什把2011年商業計劃當中的預期收入提高到了15,000美元,目標是實現50%的增長。他說,“生意真的很有起色。”

        約什的顧客之一是住在達拉斯(Dallas)郊區的約翰•馬修斯(John Matthews)。馬修斯說,約什之所以生意好,原因之一是一流的服務:博斯蒂克先生會關注每天的氣象預報,如果即將下雨的話,他就會建議顧客把洗車時間推遲到下雨之后。約什說,“這種做法的確讓我丟掉了不少生意,可是,顧客們都十分贊賞我的做法。”他的愿望是,趕在明年上大學之前攢下5萬美元的積蓄。

        位于密蘇里州利斯薩米特(Lee's Summit)的全國大學入學研究中心(National Research Center for College & University Admissions)對190萬名學生進行了一次調查,結果顯示,高年級的高中生當中大約有3.7%打算自己創業。在低年級的高中生當中,這個比例還要高一些,是4.1%到4.4%。

        諸如創業培訓網路和“檸檬水之日”之類的機構和活動都鼓勵有志創業的青少年盡早起步。10歲的梅竇•鮑勃(Meadow Bob)住在德克薩斯州霍克萊(Hockley)的“休士頓兒童王國”(Boys and Girls Country of Houston),那是一個非營利的兒童收養機構。8歲的時候,她和幾個朋友參加了一次“檸檬水之日”擺攤活動,由此賺來的錢讓她非常興奮,進而產生了自己創業的念頭。她說,她的想法是推出一種“可以讓大家涼快下來”的夏季產品,于是就從自己的積蓄里拿出30美元買了臺刨冰機,然后擺了個小攤,向學校里的83名同學出售一杯2美元的冷飲。


        波士頓東北大學(Northeastern University)勞動力市場研究中心(Center for Labor Market Studies)主任安德魯•薩姆(Andrew Sum)說,今年夏天,16至19歲的青少年當中只有不到30%能找到有報酬的工作,這個比例比2000年夏天的52%下降了不少,與2010年夏天的29.6%基本持平。美國政府從二十世紀四十年代開始統計這個比例,2010年夏天的數字是歷史最低水準。除了就業市場整體不景氣之外,青少年難以找到工作的原因還有更加嚴格的青少年用工法律限制以及來自成人的競爭。

        不過,孩子們紛紛在自己居住的社區里找到了有利可圖的市場縫隙。18歲的貝爾瑪•阿米托維奇(Belma Ahmetovic)住在康涅狄格州的威瑟菲爾德(Wethersfield),17歲的澤米娜•維利奇(Zermina Velic)則住在同州的哈特福德(Hartford)。兩個人都是波士尼亞移民,今年夏天將會一起操持Beta Bytes家用電腦服務公司。這家公司是她倆在去年開的,以波士尼亞移民為服務物件。她們的商業計劃書長達22頁,其中包括各種銷售指標、一份市場計劃以及一張關于時間管理的圓形圖。

        貝爾瑪和澤米娜刻意把價格定得比那些競爭企業低,還憑藉鄰里關系贏得了顧客的忠誠。阿爾瑪•佩伊馬諾維奇(Alma Pejmanovic)那臺陳舊的家用筆記本因病毒而崩潰的時候,這對搭檔不光消滅了所有的病毒,還保住了她電腦里的所有資料,收費則是100美元。佩伊馬諾維奇女士通過翻譯告訴我們,“街坊們都在說,這兩個小姑娘真的很懂行。”到現在為止,兩個小姑娘已經賺到了2,400美元利潤。她們打算把其中的5%捐給“一童一電腦”(One Laptop Per Child)組織,后者是一個為發展中國家兒童提供電腦的非營利機構。貝爾瑪是2002年來到美國的,比澤米娜晚兩年,她說,“我倆都來自一個飽嘗戰爭之苦的國家,因此就懂得一無所有的滋味。”

        別的一些學生也用上了自己的網路技能,把個人愛好轉化成了創收工具。在加州庫比蒂諾(Cupertino)的Monta Vista高中讀書的時候,索尼卡•辛格(Sonika Singh)開始用她所說的“單調涂鴉”來裝飾運動鞋,再把這些手繪的鞋子作為禮物送給朋友。


        于是乎,索尼卡開始進行市場測試。她建起了一個網站,通過問卷來了解潛在客戶身處何方。她說,等到網站贏得“無數人的關注”、引來超過50份訂單的時候,她就在去年夏天推出了“瘋狂鞋子”(Rage Shoes),價格是35美元一雙,比成本高那么幾美元。17歲的索尼卡說,這門生意“紅火極了,讓我忙了整整一個夏天。”她由此賺到了450美元,今年夏天也打算抽出一部分的時間,繼續做自己的鞋子生意。

        另一些少年企業家已經用上了編制首選客戶名單的策略,F年18歲的斯科特•斯雷德切克(Scott Sladecek)住在德克薩斯州的斯普林(Sprin),從2004年開始跟哥哥一起做修剪草坪的生意。他說,以前的一些客戶有過干完活不給錢的記錄,“我們都是誠實的孩子,活也替他們干了,可是,為了100美元就把他們告上小額追債法院實在是不值得。”所以呢,他現在的招攬目標都是那些多次光顧的忠實顧客。

        他哥哥大衛(David)現年21歲,已經在休士頓大學(University of Houston)上三年級了。在哥哥的幫助下,斯雷德切克正在擴大公司的業務范圍,準備增添清除石塊、修剪灌木以及清理排水溝之類的新專案。兄弟倆購置了價值3,700美元的設備,今年夏天還準備雇傭兩名員工。斯科特已經攢下了20,287美元的大學學費,還希望自己的存款額能有大幅度的提高,因為他明年秋天就要去德州農工大學(Texas A&M University)讀書。他打算選擇的專業是:商業。

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