A Risky Endeavor | Teen Ink

A Risky Endeavor MAG

March 25, 2018
By AliKazmi SILVER, San Jose, California
AliKazmi SILVER, San Jose, California
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Today, I stayed at home, relaxed, and let my business rake in $65 in revenue. With some initial setup, you can do the same!

Play it safe. Don’t take risks. High school is too early to make a difference. You’ve failed before. None of these criticisms were enough to stop me. I saw a real problem in the education system, and I was about to go out and attack it. Some people pay over $70 an hour for private tutoring, which is outrageous! My company tutors for less, employs high school students, aims to close the education gap caused by economic levels, and also donates a large portion of the profits to charity. I started my business only about four months ago., but I already have 11 tutors and make over $200 in revenue a week – without doing much besides making sure everything goes smoothly. I pay my tutors well, donate a significant amount to charity, and I still pocket up to $45 a week. Our website has over 350 views, and we are running at full capacity. I am a high school entrepreneur, and this is my guide to starting a business.

You may be wondering, Why start a business in the first place? It is a great way to show leadership experience, make money for yourself and for charity, and gives you the opportunity to employ your friends. While it is one of the riskiest things you can do with your time, it is one of the most rewarding when it succeeds. Leadership is one of the main qualities colleges look for, and the bravery and experience you show through starting a business shines through on applications. The road may be long, but if you can stick with it you will be rewarded with amazing experiences, friendships, connections, and a little money on the side. 

My business grew organically. It started when someone contacted me asking me to tutor their ADHD child for $15 an hour once a week, and I accepted. As it progressed, I spent my money at used book sales where I picked up loads of business textbooks for a dollar each. Friends began to take notice, and asked me where I got the money from – and that was when my eyes opened to the opportunity that was in front of me. I created a website, got a business partner (one of my biggest mistakes yet), created a marketing plan and business projections, found qualified tutors who were friends of mine, and got out there. We received an overwhelming response, with over 30 people requesting tutoring. The road to a successful business, however, is not that easy. My partner didn’t respond to many of the people, so while I assumed things were going well, many potential clients were being lost. We also faced a problem of not having enough tutors to meet the demand. In life, however, one of the best problems you can have is too many potential clients. Once I discovered what my partner was hiding from me, I immediately messaged each person personally saying I would get back to them soon, and I pointed them to our website. I also made a push at school to find more tutors. My group of friends was limited, but after the first six or so tutoring deals went through, word of mouth began to spread. Clients began coming to us, and we no longer had to advertise as heavily. Tutors began hearing about us after they noticed their friends suddenly spending a lot more, and we organically grew.

Still, things were not always good, and not everyone is trustworthy. We had one client who registered, received tutoring, and told us they would pay us at the next session. Then the parents blocked us and never contacted us again; we had to pay our tutor out of our pocket. Regardless of these occasional setbacks, most people are good, and having faith in humanity, combined with discipline, pays off in the long run.

A word of advice: whatever you do, do it for passion, not money. The money is a nice perk, but the real goal of a business should be to have fun while helping people. If you want to start your own business, create an idea, gather a team, read lots of business books, and prepare for one amazing ride.

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