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Young entrepreneurs: What do youths need to know to start up their own businesses?

Running a business and under 21

In the back room of the Blossom Shop in Woodstock, Hannah Rinn places white flowers in a vase for a sympathy arrangement, while Sarah Rinn is in the office and looks over invoices to keep track of flower prices.

Sarah and Hannah Rinn bought the Blossom Shop from its previous owner in January 2010 with money they had saved.

“I loved my job, I loved working with the people, I loved the flowers, and I was kind of done with school,” said Hannah Rinn, who worked at the Blossom Shop for three years before becoming a co-owner. “This was what I wanted to do, and it was a perfect opportunity for us.”

So the Huntley residents and Crystal Lake Central High School graduates, who still live with their parents, became businesswomen while still teenagers. A year later, the business is profitable.

Youngsters starting a business, either through a hobby or an interest, have a few things to keep in mind, such as making sure that they have a business plan and an idea of how much operations will cost.

Mary Margaret Maule, Illinois Small Business Development Center coordinator, said teens tend to start their business out of a hobby or an interest, such as screen printing T-shirts or painting skateboard decks.

She said young entrepreneurs have the advantage of not having as many financial obligations, such as a mortgage or supporting children. Normally it takes a year for a business to gain traction. Starting a business as youngsters gives them more time for a business to grow.

“You can get by on less for a longer time period,” Maule said.

For the Rinn sisters, there was a lot of learning on the job.

They needed to figure out how many flowers to order before big holidays, how many vases to have ready to go, and how many employees should be working at a given time, the now-21-year-old Hannah Rinn said.

Sarah Rinn, who is 19, handles the book work for the business and had to learn how to manage the financial portion of the business, such as determining payroll deductions. She’s still attending McHenry County College and studying to be a teacher.

“Luckily our accountant is very patient with me,” Sarah Rinn said. “Now that we know what to expect on a monthly basis, and what to expect with all the holidays, we have a better grasp of it.”

The sisters had to give up part of their social lives to help keep this business successful.

Hannah Rinn took her first vacation last week since taking over the business. Sarah Rinn will take her first vacation in May, after school and Mother’s Day.

“You don’t have much of a social life when you first start,” Hannah Rinn said. “It was learning how to balance everything. Balancing your social life, your family time, working, schoolwork.”

They wanted to make sure that the business survived, so they didn’t take a paycheck for the first five months of owning the business to make sure that their employees were paid.

They do have their own tips to be successful.

“You have to find something that you love,” Sarah Rinn said. “If it’s just something that you’re moderately interested in, after the first couple of months, you’ll be, ‘I want my life back, I want to go out with my friends, I don’t want to be here at 10 o’clock at night.’”

Maggie Sullivan, 18, of Wonder Lake, had her own Scentsy business for about 10 months. She started selling Scentsy candles at 16 years old to save money for a trip and for college.

She would pass out fliers and use word of mouth to encourage people to buy flameless candles that produce a scent when people plug them into outlets.

“Even though you’re your own boss, and set your own hours, you have to set hours for yourself so you don’t get behind,” Sullivan said. “It is a responsibility you have to take.”

Available resources

The Illinois Small Business Center located in the Shah Center offers free general business counseling for people looking to start up a business.

The center helps potential entrepreneurs think about how they will market their business, perform a cost analysis, put together a business plan, and put together profit and loss statements.

Those who start businesses will need to collect taxes, register with the state and county, make payroll deductions for employees, and make sure that they are following applicable regulations, said Mary Margaret Maule, Illinois Small Business Development Center coordinator.

The Illinois Small Business Development Center has offers classes that provide training on how to start business. Those interested should call 815-455-6098.

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