I spent this past February vacation in Miami Beach. It wasn't a family vacation or a trip with friends, but rather to attend the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Annual Conference. I was one of eight winners of the National Teen Business Plan Competition run by An Income Of Her Own, and sponsored by IBM, Esprit Foundation, and Wells Fargo Bank. As the author of one of the winning entries, I was invited to fly to Miami for five days and spend the week getting down to business.
The plan I developed was for Letter Perfect. It took me a while to come up with an idea for a business that I would not only be good at, but enjoy. I love using computers, so this seemed like the ideal type of business for me to create. From this idea, I came up with Letter Perfect, a desktop publishing business. I planned to advertise to local businesses and companies and format newsletters and fliers for their clients. I also drew up my projected overhead and expense sheet so I could predict how much money I would make the first year. Before I went to Miami, Letter Perfect was just an idea on paper. I didn't think that I had the knowledge to start my own business. However, my week at the NAWBO Conference changed that.
When I arrived, I was met by the women business owners who head An Income Of Her Own. We visited many women-owned businesses including Specs, a CD store and coffeehouse in one, and listened to speakers including Latitia Baldridge and Rosabeth Moss-Canter. We dined at Planet Hollywood and were interviewed by local Miami television and radio stations and Seventeen Magazine.
On one of the last days, we held a panel for local Miami teens. This was an opportunity to speak with other high schoolers and encourage them to enter the competition. Each winner explained her business plan and then answered questions about how the idea had developed and what problems might arise. Aside from giving others a window into what it is like to gather ideas and put them into a formal plan, this experience was also a way for me to evaluate Letter Perfect.
Now I am back home finishing my senior year. I am in the process of getting Letter Perfect started and I plan to continue it while at college in the fall. I never would have imagined myself owning a business, but after my week with An Income Of Her Own, I know that I have the ability to secceed as long as I am confident, organized, and enjoy what Iam doing.
I encourage anyone with an interest in business to enter the National Teen Business Plan Competition. Not only does it force you to organize your ideas and put them on paper, but it gives you a chance to participate in a unique experience that will motivate you to become successful at whatever it is you decide to pursue. c
For an application:
National Teen Business
P.O. Box 8452
San Jose, CA 95155-8452
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.