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Summer Businesses for High School Students?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the lemonade-stands-are-so-blazé dept.

The Almighty Buck 184

An anonymous reader asks: "A friend and I are going into our final year of high school, and given a variety of factors (the relative paucity of technology jobs for HS students, etc.), would like to start our own business. We'll probably have about $1000 in capital, but (in effect) start out with no other resources other than our own skills (technical and otherwise). We have no constant access to a car, which means on-site tech support is effectively out. We'd like to start something in the technology field (IT, software design, hardware construction - we can solder, web design, etc.), but are open to any suggestions. We'd also like some sort of business we can start this summer, but can continue to maintain. What do you suggest as a business idea for the summer->longer term?"

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First you need a good business plan (3, Funny)

override11 (516715) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469636)

This was my business plan, and I have found it highly effective.

Step 1: Steal Underpants
Step 2:

Step 3: Profit!

Rince, and repeat. :)

Re:First you need a good business plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8469685)

The step 2 you're looking for is extort.

Or if they belong to a high school prom queen, sell on ebay to sexual deviants.

Re:First you need a good business plan (4, Funny)

bdash (598142) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470109)

Step 1: Steal Underpants


Rince, and repeat. :)

When dealing with stolen underpants, repeated rinsing is most definitely a good idea!

Who mods this shit up? That bit is PLAYED OUT! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8470342)

It was funny when South Park did it. It does not relate to every Slashdot post that talks about making money

Get over it.

OP: Mow lawns. No joke. (5, Interesting)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470988)

The summer before my last year in high school I had a cheap beater of a pickup truck (a 1970 Ford F-150 with a motor and transmission out of a Mustang (V8-302, 3 speed manual tranny) - it was ugly, beat up, and cheap. Also had lots of room in the back for gear. Estimated cost : $500

Bought a used lawn mower, cleaned it up and sharpened the blade with a file. Estimated cost : 100 total.

Got an electric weed-eater for about $40 new w/ a 100' heavy duty extension cord.

Other crap : eye protection, ear protection, maybe a second mower and trimmer because there are two of you.

Total cost, roughly your entire $1000 budget.

Get started by printing out 1 page flyers to put on people's doors in neighborhoods (nice neighborhoods.) Each place you do will take you about 2 hours max with two people, and will pay $40, and needs to be done every two weeks. You can do like 4 each day tops, and if you do a GOOD job you will have awesome repeat business. Totally a cash business, so no taxes.

It takes some time to build up a client base, but once you two do a good job you will have more business than you can imagine. $800 free and clear every week on a full schedule, possibly more. That's $400 a week per person free and clear, $1600 a month.

It is hot, sweaty, dirty, demeaning work - which is why you will have so many people eager to have you do it for them. If you aren't too proud to sweat you will make more doing this than doing 'computer work' - esp. now.

Maybe you will find something that you can do with your $1000 start up fund, something that will net you $5,000 apiece in three months without access to a car ... something that involves pushing buttons and moving a mouse around ... if you do let us know because a bunch of us would love to do the same.

Re:OP: Mow lawns. No joke. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8472196)

If you live near a college campus (and you get that beater truck), you can buy and sell dorm fridges.

Print up flyers offering beer money ($10-20) for used units as Spring move out time comes. Cruise the alleys in the off-campus student housing area and pick up any you see left out for trash pickup. These can be for spare parts. Rent a garage for $50 a month if you need storage space. Clean them out and check and fix any that you can. Sell them in the Fall for $50-70 each (vs. $100+ new).

Easy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8469660)

1) Spend $1,000 on clothes and a lease on a phat car
2) Use clothes and phat car to get hot women
3) Pimp out hot women
4) Profit, motherfucker. Profit.

Re:Easy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8470364)

You could always suck dick for money.

Re:Easy (5, Insightful)

FLOOBYDUST (737287) | more than 10 years ago | (#8472033)

Three (outsourcing proof) jobs that will give you skills to last a lifetime....
1. Electricians helper.
Find a local guy in the neighborhood who has a sign plastered on his truck, work cheap, watch and learn...return on investement 3,000%
2. Plumbers helper;It may be stinky but they make good $$$$
3. Carpenters helper...See # 1 above
Why no Computer ideas?
1) you are no Bill Gates or Michael Dell. They never asked a bunch of timewasting web browsers for job advice, they just did it. Same with Steve Jobs
2) Those three jobs will teach you the meaning of the word work... a very important thing to know.

3) you may develop a life long part time career

Where do you live? (5, Insightful)

schnits0r (633893) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469670)

I beleive if you live in certain places, they pay you for donating sperm. My summer job when I was a teen, was more like summer volunteer work.

Re:Where do you live? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8469999)

So, you're saying that you're not entirely sure that there are places that pay for sperm. So, I'm guessing you didn't get paid for yours, or else you'd know of at least one place. I guess it really was like volunteer work because you weren't getting paid!

p.s. are you sure you should be donating? we're talking contamination of the future of the human race, here.

Re:Where do you live? (2, Funny)

El (94934) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470005)

What?!? You mean I could have been getting paid for all these years?!?

Re:Where do you live? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8470091)

What?!? You mean I could have been getting paid for all these years?!?

Spoken like a true /.'er!

Re:Where do you live? (1)

dododge (127618) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470043)

I beleive if you live in certain places, they pay you for donating sperm.

Along these lines, here's an interview [] with a former child actor who was paying his rent this way.

Re:Where do you live? (5, Funny)

Mr. Piddle (567882) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470647)

How does one put "jerking off" onto a resume tactfully? What if you have to tell the interviewer about your responsibilities and problem-solving skills? "I, uh, was really struggling for a few minutes as the porn mag didn't do anything for me, so I really tried hard to think of that girl at school, and badaboombadabing problem solved. BTW, I'm already a member of the prestigious Gallon Club."

Re:Where do you live? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8472090)

This was my plan to pay my way through college. Until I discovered that I was sterile. Yup, I was effectively born with a vasectomy. There went the dreams of instant cash.

On the brighter side, I was somewhat less worried about broken condoms, and the one girl who tried to pin her pregnancy on me got a rude awakening.

Dude... When the time comes, call me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8471128)

I want to be there when you're sued for child support by one of the millions of would-be kids you tossed into a dixi cup. Oh I know, all kinds of things were signed by all the parties involved. Except one, and oddly enough that's starting to be meaningful to the courts. Tee-Hee.

More info needed. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8469676)

1. Where are you? US? What region thereof?
2. What's your skillset?
3. What's your dream job? What's "beneath you?" What can you not stand to do?

I don't want to crush your hopes, but you may find it very difficult to do something meaningful. You might consider finding the Entrepeneur's Club at a local college / University and hooking up with them. They may be able to find investors for you if you can present a viable business plan.

Good luck. You'll need it.

okay, here's a freebie. (3, Interesting)

millia (35740) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469678)

first off, blaze (with accent.)?
it's blase. (with accent.)

here's the idea i am sure could make somebody a ton of money.

instead of refilling and rehabbing toner cartridges, do it for lcd projector bulb cartridges. almost all the time, you have to buy a new one- for a good chunk of change. a little googling found me a place or two where you can buy solely the bulb. clean the cartridge, and replace the bulb (being careful of course not to get oil on anything) and charge 1/2 to 2/3 of what a new projector bulb costs.
if i were mechanically inclined, i would do this. it's a growth industry. here at work, thanks to doofuses who can't remember how to turn off a projector, we can chew through a unit, at $330 per, in 6 months. and i know college professors aren't the only group of clueless projector users out there.

Re:okay, here's a freebie. (1)

Baloo Ursidae (29355) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469994)

here at work, thanks to doofuses who can't remember how to turn off a projector, we can chew through a unit, at $330 per, in 6 months. and i know college professors aren't the only group of clueless projector users out there.

If they can't even work a projector, what makes them think they can teach?

Re:okay, here's a freebie. (2)

V. Mole (9567) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470152)

I suppose that was meant to be funny, but "remembers to turn off the projector" is not actually high on my list of desiriable traits in in a teacher. I look for things like "really understands the topic", "able to communicate his/her knowledge", and, for bonus points, "shows enthusiasm for both teaching and learning." Those skills are precious and rare. Schools lucky enough to have such teachers should stop griping about projector bulbs and pay some whiny IT guy $5/hr to follow them around and turn off the projector. Whiny IT guys are a dime a dozen.

Steve, Whiny IT Guy.

Re:okay, here's a freebie. (1)

Baloo Ursidae (29355) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470383)

Schools lucky enough to have such teachers should stop griping about projector bulbs and pay some whiny IT guy $5/hr to follow them around and turn off the projector. Whiny IT guys are a dime a dozen.

In what third-world state is $5/hr at or above minimum wage? I can't even remember a minimum wage lower than $6.50/hr. It's $7.10/hr now and I expect it to go to $7.30 or so depending on inflation in January.

Re:okay, here's a freebie. (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470410)

Here in Montana it's $5.15 or $5.25/hr. But you can rent a place for 200 (with roommates), or $300 if you like to live alone.

Re:okay, here's a freebie. (2, Interesting)

Baloo Ursidae (29355) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470546)

Yikes...I never realized how out of whack the rest of the country is (compared to Oregon). We don't pay sales tax. I can live in downtown Portland with utilities paid, a view, and a stones throw from about a half-dozen assorted TriMet [] and Screechcar [] stands. I don't have to stand in the rain to get gas, self serve is prohibited. And we pay 20 cents less a gallon than Washington, a self-serve state.

Don't count on moving here, though: Oregon's full.

Re:okay, here's a freebie. (1)

kommakazi (610098) | more than 10 years ago | (#8471718)

I don't have to stand in the rain to get gas, self serve is prohibited

I fill my own gag but I don't have to stand in the rain either, gas stations here in the civilized world have giant overhead things.

Re:okay, here's a freebie. (1)

tylernt (581794) | more than 10 years ago | (#8472316)

self serve is prohibited

What's the logic behind that?! Afraid somebody might spill some gas and throw a cigarette on it? If it's such a great idea why don't all of the states prohibit self-serve?

Re:okay, here's a freebie. (1)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 10 years ago | (#8472396)

Union rules.

Re:okay, here's a freebie. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8471008)

FWIW: NC's minimum wage is $5.15, too. And it still costs $650 a month for a one-bedroom PLUS utilities. And that is the _way_ low end.

Start a lemonaid stand... (4, Funny)

Dr. Bent (533421) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469683)

...on the web! Then get 10 million in VC funding and go public.

Oh wait, it's not 1999. Forget I said anything.

Re:Start a lemonaid stand... (1)

gklinger (571901) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470497)

Clearly you didn't notice which department this story came from:

From the lemonade-stands-are-so-blaze dept.

For what it's worth, my first thought was also that they should start a lemonade stand but then I realized they would have to compete with all the IT people that were "surplused" when their jobs went overseas.

Semi-OT. I just saw Lou Dobbs tear Mark Andreessen about his company exporting jobs to India. Ouch.

First things that come to mind... (3, Informative)

Vaevictis666 (680137) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469687)

...Hosting and web design.

Rent a box from somewhere, and harass friends, family, and neighbors if they know anyone who could use a web presence. You provide the hosting, set up domains and stuff, and if they need it, some basic web design.

There's even a few packages out there that have a very simplified markup structure (ie. _underline_ and *bold* and stuff) that means your potential clients can edit pages directly.

Your costs are monthly fees to your host, and one-time fees for domains and such. Income is monthly hosting fees from clients, and one-time or recurring fees for web design, graphics, and maybe even some freelance coding for special features and whatnot.

CMFH - Code Monkeys For Hire (LLC) (5, Insightful)

TechnoBoffin (709130) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469689)

Programming of any sort (including web design) is probably the most portable of the IT trades. You can do it from your house, or from your dorm room if and when you go off to college. Beyond that, maybe building custom-order systems for people, but it's unlikely you could ramp that up in 3 months. You might also check out for some available contracting work in your area which might not require you to be on-site.

Re:CMFH - Code Monkeys For Hire (LLC) (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8471228)

I would check out and the similar sites, looking for things to do which are within your skill set. The hardest part will be being business-like about it -- you are high school kids, and you don't really realize that to make money that way you have to get up and be at work by 8am every morning, following a rigorous schedule search for new contracts and working diligently on current ones, and following up with your previous customers.

Re:CMFH - Code Monkeys For Hire (LLC) (3, Interesting)

pnutjam (523990) | more than 10 years ago | (#8472182)

duh, that's why everybody in India is doing it.

Fool-proof plan (1)

Nick of NSTime (597712) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469694)

Start an online calendar company. Nobody's thought of that before.

Re:Fool-proof plan (1)

Numeric (22250) | more than 10 years ago | (#8472025)

hey! i worked for one of those companies!

There's little money left in comp industry.. (4, Informative)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469698)

I'd not even bother.

1: Everybody can make a website.. Notice I didnt say good
2: Anti-crapware like the new AOL discs /ad aware and the like make problem solving easier on consumers
3: Real software issues on MS systems always require a reinstall-Use vendor wipe disc
4: If its a hardware issue, you cant repair motherboards and the like. On dell/gateway crap, it's "Buy New Machine"
5: You're just HS students. I'm 22 and people look down at our age group as consultants. The "Consultant" is supposed to be 30-40 after numerous lay-offs and fires (from idiotic companies that lie to get out of unemp.)

Yeah, at 22, I'm jaded enough to be a consultant. I've not seen it all, but close.

Re:There's little money left in comp industry.. (1)

cybermace5 (446439) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470301)

Just wait until you reach 23! I'm doing a temp job AND an electronics consulting project at the same time! People don't look down on 23-year-olds (almost 24) as much as they do for 22-year-olds. You got moxie, kid. You'll go far someday.

Re:There's little money left in comp industry.. (5, Interesting)

trav3l3r (666370) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470715)

1. You are right, most people can create a web site, and few do it well. However, those that want a good web site are still willing to pay money to have it done professionally. Create a couple of demo sites to show prospective customers, everything from very flashy with bells and whistles, to the business web site. Also, make sure you explain how you can make thier web site rank high on some of the more populer search engines. A business web site should make money or provide some benefit to the business. Show your customer how you can make that happen.

2 and 3. There is still money to be made repairing PC's. People that tell you the only way to repair a Microsoft product is to wipe and re-install generally do not know what they are doing. If the first response I got from a consultant was wipe and re-install, I would look for another consultant. Most experianced techs can repair a Windows PC without wiping it.

4. Hardware issues can be fixed. Power supplies can be replaced. I have often replaced caps on a motherboard, or disabled a built in device on an expensive board then installed an add-on replacement. For example, we had a lightning strike in the area, lightning surged through an unprotected hub and took out 9 computers. On 8 of the computers I was able to disable the on board lan, install a NIC card and get them back on-line. The 9th PC and the hub was toast. I also find many hardware issues to simply be bad fans, faulty memory or such. Always troubleshoot. Customers appreciate it if you look at thier machines before you tell them they need to be replaced.

5. Ok, you're high school students. You will need to try harder and prove you have your stuff together. Dress neat, be well groomed, be polite, and act professional. First impression's count for a lot. If you give a bad first impression you probably will not get a chance to make any proposals.

Finally, the consultant is not supposed to be any particuler age, but should be a professional, who can help the customers bottom line.

Re:There's little money left in comp industry.. (4, Insightful)

SeinJunkie (751833) | more than 10 years ago | (#8471119)

Why did this not get modded up?

Excellent advice in response to the often seemingly bleak future of IT.

If I could add anything to this, it's that the industry has (obviously) totally changed since just 3 years ago. What appeared to be a "great field" to get into, is still a great field, but it's just not as easy as it once was. In reality, this is when it gets better.

Now, it's even more important to specialize than it was just a few years ago. Before, all of the skills that you mentioned you had were great, because they were pretty generic and you could just about fit anywhere. But you can't be the best at everything. Find something you really enjoy doing, learn everything you can about it through practice and experiments. Once you can prove to someone who knows something about your field that you're a viable investment, you'll be paid to prove it again and again.

Re:There's little money left in comp industry.. (0)

hypermegachi (688964) | more than 10 years ago | (#8472569)

in my experience, reinstalling windows and all programs was faster than actually taking the effort to search through the entire computer for the problem, and fixing it. plus it's nice to have a clean install once in a while.


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8469699)

Selling drugs has always been lucrative, with $1000 you could buy three ounces of good marijuana and a saturday night special for protection.

A few quick ones (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469712)

Guys always like making stuff, but more successful small businesses are usually services. If you are both detail oriented, you could try a wash the car service, you go to the self serve wash places (espeically those near something to do) offer to wash cars (wash, wax, glass cleaner vaccum, armorall/leather cleaner, etc) while the person shops/eats. You'll probably have to split revenue with the wash place. You could offer your services to several dealerships to keep business up.

If you have a demonstrable history of tech stuff, you could be geeks for hire, check with friends and teachers who have computer problems (there have been a ton of viruses lately so you can probably get plenty of business) and fix them for ~$20/hr (or charge by the job).

Other than that think about things that others complain about and ways you could provide the service.

Re:A few quick ones (2, Interesting)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469793)

I forgot two, if you live near the forest and are safe with power tools, and have occasional access to a truck, you could cut firewood for the summer. Probably more of a fall business, but you could probably get some work in the later summer months. Check on going rates in your area.
Another new industry is take the trouble out of ebaying things. People drop of their stuff they want to sell, and you photogaph, list, pack, and ship it. You'll need a paypal account, digital camera, knowledge of how ebay works (both tech and market wise, go examine auctions for the same thing and see why prices vary), and it would help to have a supply of boxes.

Re:A few quick ones (1)

standsolid (619377) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470341)

except they probably aren't 18 yet (if they are going to be seniors in high school)

eBay and PayPal require you to be at least 18.

Although, I'll admit it's a good idea.

Re:A few quick ones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8472512)

You can lie, though. I've had an eBay account for six years. I'm only 20. Probably will want a CC number, but who doesn't have a Visa check card or something simlar these days?

Have you considered mowing grass? (5, Insightful)

Fortunato_NC (736786) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469727)

Since you guys are (most likely) minors and can legally repudiate any contracts you sign, many folks are going to be rightly cautious about dealing with you. You can make decent summer cash with a gas can and a lawnmower. I would have said get a paper route, but most paper carriers these days are retired folks with station wagons. One retired guy with a station wagon replaced me and my two brothers, plus a few other paper carriers when we gave up our routes in the late early 1990's. If you have friends who run a business, you might be able to get some web design work tossed your way, but I think you'll find that mowing grass will provide a more steady stream of income. Sorry to be a buzz kill, but I was 16 once, too. Don't lose your entreprenurial bent, though - it will serve you well once you join the majority. I've started 3 companies - cratered two and sold one, but I've had a lot more fun than my friends who've stuck with their "safe" jobs.

Re:Have you considered mowing grass? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8470253)

Very difficult, at least in Texas, the illegals are willing to do the job so cheaply that it doesn't even pay min wage...

Re:Have you considered mowing grass? (2, Insightful)

cybermace5 (446439) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470442)

I'll add a little to this. Use lawnmowing as a starting base. You'll build up a few customer relationships. Then, write up a snazzy brochure illustrating some of the other skills you have, for example painting, computer support or even building new systems, house watching, etc. I made lots of good money between the ages of 12 and 18 by painting things. I even painted the entire exterior of a house once. I also did some minor computer support, but there just weren't as many computers around they were a lot more stable and spyware/adware/virus-free. As far as hardware jobs involving soldering go, there isn't a whole lot you can do. Maybe get away from the soldering, and install home networks? Read up on data wiring codes (basically, don't run bare data wires through HVAC ducts) and peddle your service. You might be surprised how many people want a network, but would rather let some scrawny highschoolers muck around in the crawlspaces.

Re:Have you considered mowing grass? (5, Funny)

Kevin Stevens (227724) | more than 10 years ago | (#8471051)

But... Have you considered GROWING grass?

Second Parent (1, Troll)

glk572 (599902) | more than 10 years ago | (#8471591)

Good cash, harvest in the fall, you're young you'll get a lite sentence.

Re:Have you considered mowing grass? (3, Funny)

BillX (307153) | more than 10 years ago | (#8471649)

But... Have you considered GROWING grass?

You mean, running around at night watering all the lawns you mowed during the day?

Re:Have you considered mowing grass? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8471921)

It's a great investment... 10 decent "Grass" seeds......~$50 pots, soil, fertilizer, etc......~$100 grow lights......~$200 taking time to care for the total investment: ~$350 not getting busted and selling can make a few grand cool off your $350 investment

Re:Have you considered mowing grass? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8472386)

How to do the buisness. (1)

Koskun (749254) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469729)

What type of buisness do you specifically want to open? If you want to do repair you will most likely have to start out on-site. If you want to start a store, look for atleast $30,000 to get a store and minimal frontage for the store. Not to mention the licenses for taxes and the buisness. Design of any sort will require licenses for software, and that thousand bucks will barely cover the fee. Get an idea of what you want to actually do, where you want to do it, how you want to do it, then lay out a plan. The general idea you have is lofty, but un-realistic with a thousand buck investment.

Wow, I think it couldn't get any broader. (4, Funny)

Stubtify (610318) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469730)

So no car. Check

And little money. Check

And you're young. Check

And don't have much of an idea on what to do. Check

I hate to be the first one to tell you, but million dollar ideas aren't sitting around waiting to find you on slashdot. It's going to be up to you and your friend to decide what's best here. As a consultant I can tell you, with no idea what you want to do, you really should hire a consultant if you want this to be anything more than you making webpages for people you know over the summer.

You're going to be fighting an uphill battle, most businesses won't talk to you based purely on age and lack of business experience. The one thing I would suggest if you do this, do it right and get insurance, because if you're handling something worth thousands, you don't want to be held liable if you break it.

Mow Lawns (1)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469731)

It will remind you why it's good to work in an office later on. It also never hurts to know about manual labor.

If in the midwest, sign on for corn detassling - good money but also hard work.

Re:Mow Lawns (2, Interesting)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469884)

A lot of farm work is paid by the piece, it's not exactly a business, but you do have some control over how much you can make in a summer. Besides that it usually gets you outside, excercising, and you meet some cool people. Physical labor tends to build relationships between people more than office work.

what? (1)

servicepack158 (678320) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469808)

So we're supposed to write your business plan for you?? If people here have business ideas or ways of making money they should keep them to themselves :D

Re:what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8470809)

SHUT UP!!11 INFORMATION WANTS 2 B FREE!11 linux is teh answer!1 omg omg omg communism r0x0rs j00r boxers... Stallman forever motherfuckers... fuck yeah.. give me my karma you corrupt mofuckin' mods.. clearly I love the right shit, I can't take a karma hit.. give it up you stupid niggers.

A suggestion... (4, Insightful)

almaon (252555) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469858)

I work at a local comuter retailer in my city, one of the top requests we get from our customers is: "Do you guys or do you know of anyone that offers training?"

They just want to know basic stuff, how to use their computer, how to copy files, create folders, etc really basic stuff.

Our business doesn't have the space or the resources to make this happen. But it would be simple to do and something that high school kids could pull off with a little investment of money.

You could check out an auditorium at a city library, they often have facilities for such things, including screens and projectors. You could hook a laptop up to it and do your demonstrations there.

Q&A's, how to, basic stuff. May have to pay a few bucks to use the facilities, but long as you balance the costs:profit, shouldn't be a big dent.

What kind of customers can you expect? The older generation, elderly retired people are new to computers still, they don't learn quickly, have surplus income to spend and have the time and interest to attend such a training class on general computer use.

They're really into geneology and email correspondance. Little else, so although it's not the best use of your tallents, it should be rewarding finacially and equally rewarding improving some old farts quality of life.

How to get the word out. Basic cheap marketing that targets your market. The Newspaper, they're one of the few audiences that still read it. Cheap too. Putting flyers up at senior centers, veterans hospitals, etc. anywhere old people hang out. Charge a minimal fee at first, just to gauge what your expected turn-out will be, jack the price up a bit afterwards once the word-of-mouth starts within their communities.

Should work out well, I do this stuff on the side on a one-on-one basis (since I have a car) and the money is pretty good. I usually charge $175 an hour, but if you're going to have more bodies in an auditorium, shoot for 30$ a person, something basic that everyone can afford.

Good luck, better than working at McDonalds all Summer (although working there would really give you a reason to go to college).

Re:A suggestion... (1)

Synonymous Yellowbel (720524) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470331)

Uh, you charge $175 an hour? Even if you meant $75, that's insane. I had no idea Donald Trump was so bad with computers...

Re:A suggestion... (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470465)

Keep in mind that this country has split pretty severely with the coasts, largely requiring what would be princly wages in the fly over states. A quick look at housing prices, is a good start as to why. $75/hr in Seattle, San Fran, NY, Boston, or DC ect, likely provides a decent living to it's owner after taxes take 1/3, and cost of living is taken out. It would be like $40 or $50 around here. Plus the grand parent probably has some decent experience.

Re:A suggestion... (1)

Synonymous Yellowbel (720524) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470615)

Yeah, I don't really know what the cost of living is like over there (I'm in Aus), just what stuff like CDs and games cost. I don't think the experience of the teacher has too much relevance... though I suppose getting through to an old granny can be a fine art. Really what I'm saying is, "to whom is basic computer training worth $75?". I'm a book man myself, whether it's computers, musical instruments, or cars.

Re:A suggestion... (1)

Hungus (585181) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470692)

I used to be billed out at over 300 dollars an hour for training. of course i was only paid $16.50 an hour at that time so as you can imagine I went to work elsewhere. And as a note several retailers sell or did sell an hour onsite training and computer setup for 150 - 175. Of course these days I wouldn't mind a steady 16.50 an hour .. security business is drying up and medical isn't doing new projects right tis minute. Course what I really want is to go back to school (seminary)

Re:A suggestion... (1)

mistert2 (672789) | more than 10 years ago | (#8471462)

I get more business the more money I charge. It works great to say my discount rate is $30-80/hour, because my real rate is $60-100/hour. I receive many referrals that way. I also try to refer customers to others that are cheaper. It is extremely funny and good for business.

Training is not my main job; I just do it for fun. If I had to make a living at it, I would be out of luck.

I turn a lot of people away, because I don't have time.

Re:A suggestion... (1)

almaon (252555) | more than 10 years ago | (#8471241)

I thought it was insane at first myself too, but hear me out.

The boss suggested that price, and after a few years of doing this on the side, his advice paid off.

"Why so much?", it sets a precedence, if you do it for 35-50$ people will start to take advantage of you. They call you out to do BS tasks at that point "Fix my mailbox" "Install the new AOL 9.0 for me". They start to look at it as a tech support housecall. Gets old quickly, then it chews up all your free time having to run around and do this and that. Eventually money doesn't mean much when you don't have any free time to spend it.

So charging $175 an hour makes the customer think before they act, it's a hefty price "Is it worth it to me?". They know our expertise and personalities from shopping with us, so they know the value of the service we can provide if they feel it's worth it to them. I myself would never pay $175 for any kind of training, I didn't think it would work out but it does. I go and do this about 6-7x's a month. Gives me the cash to do stupid stuff like buy a video card that'll be outta date by the time I install it:)

"What kind of person spends $175 for training? A book is only $30!" I thought that was strange too, I also didn't realize just how much some people earn in my area and their lavish over the top homes hidden behind those iron gates. Doctors, business people, the-well-to-do types who have more money than time. To them, money isn't a big deal compared to the time invested learning on their own via a book or experimentation. To them, a computer isn't a rewarding investment of time, just a tool to get something they want done -NOW-. They feel that they learn quicker if someone shows em how things work and what to do. They cut you a check, they're happy, you're even happier.

So many people have more dollars than sense... I wish I were one of em, maybe I will if I jack up my rate to $350 an hour! Man I wish.

paucity: n, Smallness of number; fewness. (3, Funny)

stu42j (304634) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469891)

With words like 'paucity' you should probably give up on the tech route and get a job tutoring fellow students for their SATs.

I'm sorry kids. (4, Funny)

Dr. Bent (533421) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469907)

If I had some kind of magical business plan for a company that only needed $1000 in seed money and a couple of high-school students, I sure as hell wouldn't be explaining the details of it on Slashdot.

I'd probably be selling it on a late night television infomercial with Tony Robbins and that other guy with the shiny teeth.

Good luck (0, Offtopic)

ottomatic42 (748242) | more than 10 years ago | (#8469980)

Get more capital first you cannot do much with just a $1000.

Ask a local business (1)

MountainLogic (92466) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470031)

Call up a couple VPs of{Engineering|Manufacturing|IT} at local tech small to mid size companies and tell them our story. You'll have to get a tax number etc. for them to deal with you, but its no big deal. Somebody may go, "hey we need 500 cables made." Take what ever is offered that you think you can do well. You can even get help from SCORE on some of the biz issues. Start small and assume that you'll make mistakes. Expect your experance to be your real profit.

Don't waste your time trying this. (2, Insightful)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470319)

I am a small company and I need 500 cables made once in awhile. Do you know how many ways 500 cables can be fucked up? I've got a pretty good idea. I already have a cheap Pakistani cable builder and a cheap Asian board builder. They screw up once in awhile, but they fix their screwups real fast as their house payments depend on keeping me happy.

I would not trust my 500 cables to a couple of kids that have nothing other than beer money to loose.

Re:Don't waste your time trying this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8470888)

Unfortunately, my boss would and did hire a local man to do light assembly of plastic parts because the guy bid 2% less than our reliable supplier. The local guy's business plan was to use his Down's Syndrome cousins to assemble them in his basement. They burned the house down and vast black cloud of stinking plastic smoke cause the evacuation of a whole section of the town. I kid you not. So go ahead and call small tech companies, a lot of them are in business merely because the principles would never be allowed to work for anyone else, and you have no fucking idea what they might decide to do.

This is easy. (1)

pi_rules (123171) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470042)

Make fake ID's. Seriously.

Re:This is easy. (1)

pnutjam (523990) | more than 10 years ago | (#8472246)

Yeah that's smart.

I actually knew a guy who got busted for making fake ID's, maybe he did some other stuff too but that's what he claimed to have done time for.

2 F#$%ing years
He worked nights monitoring the NOC at a really crappy company I worked for briefly. Nobody wanted to hire a felon and that job started to look a little shaky, this company had terrible turnover.

So, one night he came into work and hung himself. I'm just glad I didn't find the body.


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8470137)

I have an excellent opportunity for you. I am the ASSISTANT COLONEL VICE FINANCE MINISTER of a corrupt third-world dictatorship, and I am trying to embezzle foreign aid money. I have diverted FORTY-SEVEN MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS ($47,000,000) from the International Petroleum Reserve Slush Fund to a separate expense ledger sub-account within my country's incomprehensibly complex banking system.

Unfortunately, my country's laws require me to find a RANDOM STRANGER ON THE INTERNET to complete this transaction. If you have the IQ OF BREAD MOLD, this could be you! I need to transfer the money into a U.S. bank account, rather than an account in an actaul banking haven. We would split the money as follows:

  2. 40% (18.8 MILLION US DOLLARS) to me, for organizing this transaction
  3. 40% (18.8 MILLION US DOLLARS) to Chilean General Augusto Pinochet, for ABSOLUTELY NO REASON WHATSOEVER

Now, to begin the transaction I simply need $1,000 from you as an EMBEZZLEMENT TRANSFER FEE. For reasons I can't explain, because I'm making this up as I go along, I am unable to pay this amount myself, though it amounts to FIVE THOUSANDTHS OF ONE PERCENT of my profit.

Simply withdraw your money in small bills and FLUSH IT DOWN THE TOILET and my operatives will remove it from the sewer system and deposit the money into your account. I TRUST IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS H. FUCKING CHRIST that you are a trustworthy person who will do the right thing.


eBay? (3, Informative)

ubiquitin (28396) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470322)

Here's my advice to high-school students looking to be entrepreneurial during a summer: find a way to make or import something interesting and sell it on eBay. You don't have a lot of overhead and actually wind up with real-world experience of building and/or supporting a product.

How real work? (1)

rir (632769) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470474)

If you are young and want to make money during the summer, your best option is some sort of labour job. The world doesn't need more half assed business that don't serve any particular purpose.

Re:How real work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8471934)

are you just a jerk, or simply play one on slashdot.

avoiding confrontation, typical loser.

One last thought (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470535)

You and your partner need to sit down and think about what your goals are after high school. The trouble with most businesses is that it's almost impossible to make your opportunity cost back (after paying taxes) in 3 months. Most assets (even cheap ones) require more than 3 year payback. Sure sometimes you can sometimes reuse assets that you already own. If you want to go to college after you graduate, I'd say suck it up and get a minimum wage job, sorry. You'll likely have more cash at the end of the summer, and that becomes much more important as you want to pay tuition. If you're thinking more about running with this after you graduate, I'd look for a part time job. Getting a part time job will provide additional investment capital next summer when you get started for real, but will give you free time to build your business this summer/next year. You'll be doing well if your business generates anything other than a customer list or brand name this year.

Freelance Barnyard Masterbaters (1)

Mr. Piddle (567882) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470563)

That 1000 dollars will keep you equipped with gloves and waders for the whole summer, so everything else is pure profit!!!

I'm Surprised nobody mentioned Open Source (4, Interesting)

jrpascucci (550709) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470617)

1) So, given it takes money to make money, $1000 isn't going to net you much in ROI.
2) Instead, write something gratis that other people will use, and will give you something to put on your resume after college.
3) Open up a sourceforge account to organize your project. Do all the project planning work out in the open - project goals and descriptions, requirements, specs, docs, code. In the future, you can point people to this as a sample of your early work (keep it updated). Have a GUI (I don't recommend Web apps for something like this - too much infrastructure), write it in C++ (what I suggest), Java, or VB, depending on your talent and audience (and resources - Gnu C++ and Java are free).
4) People don't use 80% of software they buy - so make that 80% open-sourced 'infrastructure' libraries and such, and the remaining 20% closed-source plug-ins or specialized customizations (and a good installer - people tend to buy stuff that has a good installer).
5) If someone wants a feature or a bug fixed, see if they will pay for support.
6) Leverage other people for the product.
7) Learn how to market your product. Just see it as an experiment - don't be shy, be outgoing, and specifically, be clever.

Do some market research: go and figure out what someone wants to do that they can't do now, or that the software to do is expensive. How? Ask them!

The criterion for your research should be - you should have a representative sample of the population nearby, they probably should be a small business (since individuals don't pay much and usually need more prettiness-per-unit-usefulness than a small business solving a specific problem would need), they should have some general-purpose computers that are underleveraged (people do one or two applications on them (mail, word/excel/quicken, and Minesweeper) and don't really use them to their full potential).

Consider what target audiences you have around you: small, non-chain restaurants (specifically their back office); professional practices, like small dentist/physical therapist/massage therapists/chiropractor offices; the corner bodega - they might have a cash register, but no computer tracking of stock so they never quite know what their inventory is or how much to buy - sell them that. House painters/plumbers/small general contractors. Churches/Synagogues/Mosques.

Find something some group of the people above do that's tedius, and see if you can make it trivial. Don't be afraid to ask a lot of people, and say 'no' if it looks like too much - even if they will pay you. Do _not_ get in over your head.

KISS - keep it simple, silly. Bang-for-the-buck is the keyword for this sort of development. You are trying to make their lives better/easier/smarter, and they might need 'just one thing'. Consider the first spreadsheets - they merely edited columns of numbers and added them up correctly, and saved and read them to a file. This saved an _enormous_ amount of time for people who had to do this stuff day-in-day-out. Almost nothing subsequently has had as profound an impact on their lives as taking the grunt work out of moving raw numbers around with pen-and-paper.


Re:I'm Surprised nobody mentioned Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8471306)

it is SO fucking obvious that you have never, ever been anywhere close to the computers that a real business used.

I was involved in a "summer business" once... (0, Offtopic)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470703)

During the height of the DotCom bubble -- a time when anything went -- a (now former) friend had the brilliant idea to make money by writing webpages. His skill set comprised of DHTML, ASP, VB, J++, and taking public domain and/or example code and putting his name on it. I had worked almost exclusively with application languages, so I did actually get something from the experience.

Mind you, this was before our freshmen years. So I viewed it with much skepticism but, not wanting to disappoint him, I went along.

He wanted to charge people $10 a page, plus $5 for javascript. The worst part is that some people took his offer seriously. They all said that he was too expensive.

Perhaps the one thing he loved more than money was power. He would manipulate me (admittedly easy to do), changing the rules of a situation to his benefit.

He even had the gall to, at one point, post an employment opening on our site (hosted on PWS or whatever POS mini-IIS that came with Win98. To which one poor soul actually replied. My friend took pleasure in emailing him, telling him that he wasn't "qualified" enough.

In short, he was a greedy fraud, an MS shill (his lasting image on me probably intensified my love of free / open source software, at that point in time yet to come), a bona-fide script kiddie, warez junkie, cheater in games, a person completely unworthy to breathe the same air as living creatures, the epitomy of what is wrong in this world; last I heard of him was that his mother had to call the police to break up a fight between him and his brother. I am grateful to myself for having had the insight and fortune to withdraw from that friendship, even though I couldn't see that at the time.

I'm sorry that I wrote all of this here, but I had to purge it, and it is slightly on topic, so...

As a 19 year old... (3, Informative)

krs-one (470715) | more than 10 years ago | (#8470803)

As a 19 year old college student with a ton of ideas all the time, its hard to pursue any of them. I keep a small notepad with me at all times. Anytime I get any inspiration (if its in the middle of a professor giving a lecture), I write it down. Then I can go and review it later.

But I was in your position a few years ago (I was a Freshman in highschool, not a senior). Here's what I did (in 2000):

The local science fair had a web design contest. I had been doing web design for about a year, mainly for my own amusement and knowledge. I also had a close friend who did the same, and since we needed teams of 2, we formed a web design team. We made a web page (one we actually wrote, didn't use Dreamweaver) according to the specs of the contest, and totally blew away the judges. They thought it was the most amazing thing ever. They both gave us their business cards, told us to contact them, we did, and bingo, $12 an hour work for each of us. We were psyched.

Eventually our client fell out from beneath us and never contacted us back, but we got paid for the work we did, so all was good.

Another science fair story: the magnet high school program I attended required everyone to do a science fair project every year. Since I was(am) a decent programmer, I always did stuff in the computer science category. I loved the stuff, and the category was small so I was always almost guranteed to win. I did a project on Artificial Intelligence one year, and OpenGL another and Massive Parallel Rendering a third year. All the judges loved it, and a lot offered me jobs. I already had a well paying job at the time, so I passed on them, but I got my name out there.

Those are my opinions and experiences, take them for what their worth from someone in your shoes a few years ago. Keep in mind, as well, that all of this cost me nothing (in fact, it all made me $$$ as 1st place at the web design contest got me money, and so did 1st place at science fair, not to mention the actual jobs).

Good luck!


I has a business once (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8470837)

You see, I was out one night with my dad's Porche and it slid into the lake. So I had to get some serious cash to pay for the repairs. Well this girl I was dating helped me start a business. It was sweet and I made a butt load of business. Heck I even got into college, thanks to one of the girls. I also like to dance around the house in my underwear.

slashquote (1)

spood (256582) | more than 10 years ago | (#8471024)

Anyone else notice that the fortune displayed while reading this article is "You will engage in a profitable business opportunity"?

computer related stuff, and not (2, Informative)

timothy (36799) | more than 10 years ago | (#8471034)

(A lot of things depend a lot on where you are, whether your lack of regular transportation effectively traps you in suburbia or elsewhere, whether there are people with money to spend on summertime child labor, etc ... that said, random thoughts)

computer related:
1) consider an internship somewhere. Less exciting as an idea than starting your own, but it can also lead to contacts, give you experience, etc. All sorts of businesses need computer-smart people, don't just think of ones that sell computers or write software for sale ...

2) In your own walkable / bikeable radius, offer to install wireless systems so people can work wirelessly and otherwise share their high-speed internet service. Yes, they're supposed to be open-the-box easy, but context is everything; for a lot of people, it would be easily worth paying for your time to, well, open the box. (And often setup is *not* that easy, so ...)

Offer to provide, install, configure and test
a) consumer-grade wireless systems (see below)
b) non-wireless simple home networking (many people don't yet want wireless, and that's OK ... they will, next summer ;))

(See, and for cheap 802.11 boxes ... I've tried 5 different brands -- Linksys, D-Link, Siemens, SMC, Netgear -- and they work similarly enough that I wouldn't sweat the difference in most cases: the differences are in interface, bells and whistles, default IP addresses, things like that.
(See ategory_tlc.asp?CatId=35)

Keep careful track of what households get which models, a) to keep track of which models bring complaints, so you know to avoid them ;) and b) so you know which default IP address each uses, how to set up MAC address cloning, etc. Maybe you'll find a favorite brand to recommend. And if you can buy such boxes cheaply, as a commodity, you can sell them for a uniform markup, with a profit that varies depending on how well you can find bargains. Ebay, too. Your customers won't be paying for the AP itself, but for the whole package of box + install + minor training. Or, if they have one already, discount your price in a way that's fair to both parties.

Recommend and use DHCP + whatever level of security is worth it; charge more for more work, explain why and be up-front about it.

This is the kind of business that's still viable (might not be in 2 years, when practically everyone is wireless, and the cable company / DSL providers all supply wireless boxes by default, etc.), can be done by young people on bikes with backpacks or baskets to hold the necessary parts. Let people know that they are responsible for understanding / dealing with their ISPs' terms of service, though.

Think guerilla marketing [] : print clever and punchy business cards with lots of contact info; have a clean, legible, simple web site (with a friendly FAQ list); keep track of your customers (and plot them on a map); ask people to recommend you to their friends; be courteous; give followup calls after a day and after a month; tape your business card to the bottom of the AP (and a note of the default IP address!); leave a copy of Knoppix around for when those with Microsoft Windows get sick of spyware, adware and viruses ;)

(Oh, and even if people don't have high-speed access, it's still nice to be wireless and to have shareable internet access: see ... it's a bit outdated, but the point is, 56k modem + AP with serial port beats a 56k modem by itself.)


1) Circumstances determine what makes sense in your area, but having recently moved to Washington state, I find that there are coffee huts (some substantial, some plywood and duct-tape) *everywhere* selling generally pretty good coffee. I wish there were these everywhere. Summertime in a place with more sun, maybe not as popular ;) But a *good* lemonade stand is a serious thought, not a joke IMO. Most lemonade is terrible, and kids selling thin versions of the powdered stuff, not even dressed up with lemon slices, is downright sad. The BBB should crack down on them.

2) If you do lawnwork, wear a T-shirt that points out "I also do *COMPUTER* work", and the same thoughts apply re: guerilla marketing.

Good luck -- you should put up a website next fall about "What I did on my summer vacation."


Election Year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8471351)

It is a presidential election year. Volunteer your tech skills to change the world!

Upskirt Videos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8471466)

... or teen lockerroom videos

I'm appalled... (3, Insightful)

gregwbrooks (512319) | more than 10 years ago | (#8471513)

... not at your question, but at some of these answers. Damn, what a cynical, pedantic bunch we can be at times!

OK, first things first: You should be commended for wanting to work and (lack of car, funds and details aside) for wanting to pursue an entrepreneurial path.

Some thoughts...

  • Don't let the lack of a car get in your way. Become the Young Tech Whizzes Who Have To Have Their Clients Come Pick Them Up. Sound lame? It won't when the local paper or TV station picks it up and you've got lots of calls coming in.
  • Consider putting both the money and yourself to work -- but on different things.A grand isn't huge, but it's enough to do a little dabbling in the stock market. Do some research, make some picks and then work your investments at night while you work a more boring day job.
  • If you do go that route, don't turn up your nose at mass-market jobs like McDonald's.The goal when you're a teenager is to learn life skills, make a little money and ... that's about it. Laugh if you want, but you'll learn basics of working in an organization by doing a stint at McDonald's that you won't learn simply by going the entrepreneurial route. I'm all for building your own business -- I'm a PR consultant and help start-up endeavors all the time -- but it's the rare entrepreneur who didn't learn some of the ropes as an employee somewhere else.
  • Related to above: You could always put the money to work in the stock market and then go get a kick-ass internship.
  • Whatever you do, focus -- and focus hard -- on execution. Contrary to what other posters have said, million-dollar ideas are relatively easy to come by; it's execution that can make even a mediocre business plan highly profitable. Meet your deadlines. Make customers feel special. Feel shy or nervous around strangers and customers? Get over it or learn to hide it. You'll find that only about 5% of the people you ever work with do what they say they will do, and do it when they say they will do it; master this one simple thing, and you will be a standout no matter what your profession.

Repair amps (2, Interesting)

glk572 (599902) | more than 10 years ago | (#8471518)

I made a good sideline repairing guitar amps in high school, $50-100 plus parts, sometimes more depending on the issue. The only trick is to only work on old wire wrap tube amps, no IC's, easy to work on. Most of the parts are widely available, the only tools you really need, are a basic electrical tools (get good ones) and a tube tester (buy this used). I actually ran my little business out of the electronics lab at my school, made a decent little bit of cash. One tip, check the diodes in the power supply first. Usually fixing one of these is just a matter of finding the burnt out part and replacing it.

Place an add in you're local music weekly, there's big demand for this. But just make sure that you make it clear that you're not liable for more than the cost of the repair, and don't promise that you can fix everything.

Also don't go cash up front, take a crack at it first, the best case scenario is that someone won't pay for the repair, you have the amp as collateral, worst case you can pawn it for more than you would have gotten anyway. You'll meet some interesting people, have some fun, and get a chance to chill out a bit before college.

Old amps are pretty easy to work on and there's a lot of poor musicians who can't afford to buy a new one, or have it professionally repaired, they're pretty willing to take a small risk to save a buck.

So my conclusion, forget about high tech, there's lot's of competition, find a niche and work it for all it's worth.

If you guys have any artistic talent (1)

Maskirovka (255712) | more than 10 years ago | (#8471789)

Make a cool tshirt for $10,000.

Grow marijuana (3, Funny)

psyconaut (228947) | more than 10 years ago | (#8471933)

This is how I financed my college education.

For $1000 you should be able to improvise a small hydroponic operation....focus the money on the can even just use compact fluorescents for the mother plants for cloning, and keep the HIDs for flowering time.

You can probably turn $5000-10000 profit over the summer (~90 days).

Good luck.


Re:Grow marijuana (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8472132)

Watch Scarface, and take notes.

Windoze technical support (3, Insightful)

anticypher (48312) | more than 10 years ago | (#8471962)

I wish there were some students around here I could trust enough to pass off all the people who want me to install a virus checker on their win98 boxes.

Get some practice with the main virus scanning tools, anti-spyware cleaners, and other basic windoze utilities. Learn how each version of windoze does things like dial-up, and how the local cable or ADSL provider like user machines to be set up. Then print up some nice flyers and go around to all the computer stores in town and ask them if they'll promote your "summer job" business of doing all the crap work helping (l)users set up their systems and get on the internet.

Draw up a list of jobs you will do, a time estimate for each one, and the price you will charge for each job. Something like installing Norton Anti-Virus should take about an hour, and you should charge something around US$10 or $15. Installing a free firewall, with basic configuration should cost $10. Helping with an ADSL installation maybe $20.

Make sure you are up front that the person with the machine is going to be buying the software, like a commercial virus checker, and your fee will be on top of that. Add $5 if you are the one to run to the store and buy the software for them. Don't get tempted to try pirating commercial software, enough people will then be wary of you, and the recommendations will fall off. Make sure you explain how some of the software is free for personal use, like AdAware and ZoneAlarm, but some effective virus scanners cost $40 or $90.

Have your own collection of freeware utilities, on both a USB key and a CD, and maybe even a floppy with necessary drivers. You would be surprised how many old machines are out there still running win98 or NT, and don't have USB ports or a working CD drive. The owners don't care, since they have 33.6k dialup, AOL, and Word97. They don't really need much else, but the trojans and email virii are hurting their systems and they need somebody cheap to help them out, and the computer shops tend to want to charge large amounts per hour for basic installations.

By the end of the summer, you will have learned you never want to work in technical support again, and you will probably blow your hard earned cash on a high powered rifle and a case of hunting ammo.

the AC

Learn the value of work first... (2, Insightful)

pnutjam (523990) | more than 10 years ago | (#8472146)

This is my recommendation for all high school and college students. Spend at least a couple weeks working for Labor Ready [] or some similar work today paid today temp agency.

Since you get paid at the end of the day and the jobs are very menial and degrading these types of places attract many drunks, ex-cons, and drug abusers. They're generally nice enough people who have made terrible decisions and can't get a regular job. They're often continueing to make terrible decisions.

Spend afew days observing the lives these people have built for themselves and you will get a real understanding of the wonders your parents have handed you.

Nothing builds work ethic like seeing the mess that can happen if somebody doesn't have one. Labor ready is the real man's Americorps.

Am a HS student doing exactly that (2, Insightful)

1eyedhive (664431) | more than 10 years ago | (#8472147)

I started out back when I was 14, doing spot tutoring jobs for $10 an hour here and there for old people, it wasn't glamorous, nor profitable, my parents carted me around, but it laid the foundation. After middle school, i snagged a job as a lab assistant at a local college annex, 3 hours every saturday @ $9.25 an hour, i was originally promised $7 :) After two years, I had snagged a few key clients whomI tutored at their homes, and started fixing their boxes in the process. This became far more profitable than tutoring/training. When I was laid off from that job (they closed the lab). I was 16, and convinced my dad to help me start my own business, he'd been running his own for 3 years so he knew what was involved.) I started a corporation at 16, using it to get around the lack of majority (I did all the work, held all the shares with my dad as the CEO), the process was expensive, and i did get a few boxes for myself out of it. In any case, after I turned 18 last may, i closed down the now unnecessary coroporation and am operating on my own. during the two years as a corp, i established many clients, about a dozen or so in the first year who referred me to others, including one major corporation who uses me as an on-site tech guy for their offices in Sarasota and St. Petersburg (the tech guys are based in NY and PC Anywhere only does so much). Nowadays, I get about 5 hours of onsite and/or bench work a month @ $40 an hour. My website's been spotty for months now, most of my referrals are by word of mouth, it helps that my dad gives a little sales pitch to nearly every client of his (he does remote mortgage/refi closings and goes all over) Best advice I can give someone in your position is to get the word out, business cards, friends, parents, etc. Even if you don't have a car you can still get rides if you're nice enough. Polo shirts, slacks and a good pair of shoes are a must, start out small, get in the door by tutoring them (MS word, IE, outlook, the like), $20 or so an hour, work your way up from there, once you're in the door start fixing boxen. There isn't a single box in a client's home that doesnt need something fixed. Good luck.

To all the naysayers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8472347)

To all of those who say that a 16 year old can't make (good) money in a technology oriented job, I am here to tell you off. I may be an exception, but in the last 6 months I have brought in over $10K and I just turned 16 two months ago. It has all been from freelance programming to boot.

To the original inquirers, I can only offer the following advice (what has worked for me). Start out with something like - I know it is most often similar to working in a sweatshop, but the goal is to find a good business (preferrably one in America who appreciates a good English speaking coder) and set up another more lucrative line of business with it. I currently do contracting work for a few companies that nets me a sizable amount for a person my age. Just keep a positive attitude about things and keep your eyes open for good business relationships.

Networking. (3, Insightful)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 10 years ago | (#8472470)

You're about to leave the last free school you're going to get, most likely. [Unless it's offered as a benefit as a future employer]

And then you get to the paying for education, and then the trying to pay off student loans, and find someone to give you money for your time.

Although it sounds like a good idea to try to make money now, you may actually want to look at things that might help you to make more money later. So pick what you like to do, and go talk to people who work for companies that work in the field, or have jobs of the type that you want. You probably won't get to do it, but it doesn't mean that you can't get an internship, and learn something.

Hell, it might be that all you learn is that you really hate the field, and that's the best thing that you can learn early. You might learn that you don't want to work for that type of company.

But you also start building your resume, and gaining experience. You meet people, who can tell you later in life when there's a position that you might be interested in. And you have so many more people whom you can use as references for that first real paying job.

As for transportation -- public transit. It's not glamorous, but the bus is your friend. Or, look for stuff within walking/bike distance. Hell, even a public library or local government might be willing to take you in, if you're interested in working there.

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