Starting an Online Business at Age 9? This Gen Z Teenpreneur Shows – With the Right Tools – It’s Totally Doable!

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I enjoy being a teen entrepreneur. It allows me the opportunity to do what I love, and at the same time to provide a service that other people enjoy. It’s a great feeling!Sydney Englund

Do you have teenage or even younger children in your world? Would you like to help them get a head start in life, in a fun and rewarding way?

Then Sydney’s story is for you.

Sydney is crazy about horses. It all began when she rode a pony at a festival when she was just 3 years old. When she was 4, she started taking riding lessons. She was obsessed with horse pictures, horse names, games, books, movies… She was – and still is – a truly “horse-crazy girl.”

Looking for high quality information online, Sydney realized there was no good website that provided the kind of material she was looking for. So, encouraged by her mom, she began building her own site – a site which turned into a business!

What started out as a pure hobby soon turned into an enterprise that saw Sydney participating in competitions and speaking at a Teenpreneur Conference. And, to her delight, it also funded buying her very first horse.❣️

We asked Sydney and her mom, Gerri, about her business journey.

1. If my calculations are correct, you started your online business with SBI! at the “ripe old” age of 8 or 9 – am I right? How did that happen?

I started my website when I was nine. There were a few things that came together:

  • My mom wanted to try SBI! to build an online business.
  • I was obsessed with horses and everything to do with them.
  • I couldn’t find a good website that had all the horse games, books, movies and so on. There was nothing appropriate for girls my age.

So we decided that there was an opportunity and that it would be fun to create one together.

Sydney and Rikki
That’s Sydney around the time when she started her teen entrepreneur career with SBI!

2. What were your initial goals when you started horsecrazygirls.com? Did your goals change as you grew older?

When we first started the website, we didn’t really have any goals. It was just a fun project to try out SBI!. But then we added AdSense ads and Amazon affiliate links and discovered we could make money.

That was pretty exciting!

TAKEAWAY: It might have been an experiment, but someone made a great decision. If they had called the domain horsecrazygirl (singular), it would have been all about Sydney. The plural form makes it inclusive – a small but big decision!  SBI! takes you through the “research steps” that not only verify how good an opportunity is, but that help you optimize your domain name. The time invested “pre-content” pays big dividends down the horse trail.

My initial goal was to make enough money to get my own horse. And a few years ago I was able to buy my horse, Sinatra, from the money I earned with my online business.

Yay!

My next goal was to compete in more shows (which is quite expensive too). So I have a goal of working to get sponsors for my site. I’ve also been holding lots of giveaways. I’m really trying to build up my social media profiles too, one at a time.

I can be kind of shy but this year, I got to speak at the first Teenpreneur Conference. I also co-hosted an online radio show.

Sydney Teenpreneur
Sydney at her first Teenpreneur Conference

One thing I want to do now is create a program that gives back.

Here’s what that means for me: I want every horse to be loved by a horse-crazy girl. And I want every horse-crazy girl to have a horse to love.

So I am pledging ten percent of my site income to non-profit organizations like horse rescue organizations.

I’m creating a new product that will launch for the holidays as well. I am really excited about the future.

3. How much help did you have from your parents when you started your teen entrepreneur career?

I had a lot of help from my mom when I started out as a teen entrepreneur. All I really did at the beginning was find things I wanted on the website. I tried out games, reviewed books – things like that.

I knew what horse-crazy girls loved so it made it easy for us to come up with ideas for pages to build. My mother built the pages and helped me write reviews and so on.

Then, over time, I’ve become more and more directly involved. Now I am really focused on making my business successful. Going through the SBI! process of building an online business has helped me try new things – and learn a lot of new things, too!

teen-entrepreneur-giveaway
Giveaways… one of the many things Sidney learned about, to help grow and market her business. Giveaways or contests are a great way to drive engagement and attract more traffic. Participants invite their friends to share the fun, and to get more entries themselves.

4. How do you find the time to work on your e-business without compromising your school responsibilities?

I work most on my website during the summer holidays. During the school year I average about eight hours a week. I have to plan out my weeks really well to get everything done. This year I’m lucky to have an internship at school that allows me to work more on my e-business.

And I have an awesome virtual assistant. She’s amazing!

TAKEAWAY:  It sounds pretty unusual for a teen to talk about hiring VA’s.  SBI! covers this topic.  Solopreneurs are “solo” but they don’t have to be “alone.”  Hiring a VA leverages your time by relegating time-consuming, tedious work to people, often overseas, who are happy to earn the income. WIN-WIN.

She helps with a lot of different things. One of her tasks is to manage the visitor submissions that I get via SBI!’s Content 2.0 tool. I get so many that it is hard to keep up with all of them! We screen every single submission before it is published because I don’t want anything inappropriate on my site.

It’s great that SBI! now offers separate logins for C2s. I don’t need that because my VA is trustworthy, but it will help other SBIers who are thinking about getting help.

TAKEAWAY: Content 2.0 (C2) enables your visitors to create content for your site – and they enjoy doing it!  This is another time-saving method to leverage a solopreneur’s time. 

Every “solo” has the same constraint to overcome – time..  SBI! enables you to get the most out of your time in a variety of ways (ex., monitoring the firehose of information in the blogosphere to report only the nuggets that you need to know). This way, you focus 100% of your time on building your business.

When you consider how Sydney uses both C2 and VAs, you could say that she is able to focus 200% of her time on what matters most – growing the business.

To reduce the risk that your VA, employee or helpful family member can damage your site (by accident or on purpose), you create a subordinate login. This ensures that the VA has access to only certain parts of your site.  

Sydney Jumping
Sydney and her horse Sinatra during a show jumping contest, financed by the income from her online business.

5. You have an ad and affiliate links disclaimer on your pages. How well do these passive monetization models work for you? Do you (or are you planning to) monetize in any other way?

It’s been up and down. At first Google AdSense was awesome. Now it’s not much at all. Amazon has been great at times, not so great at others. It does get frustrating. But I am working on launching my new product and some other revenue sources. I have a great community and lots of active followers so I know there’s an opportunity there.

TAKEAWAY: Many SBIers start with “passive income” to monetize their traffic.  AdSense pays less than it used to. Affiliate marketing (ex., Amazon Associates Program) can still work well, but income can fluctuate. Beyond the lowish and unreliable income level, there’s another major problem that few consider…

When your income model depends on a third-party platform such as AdSense, eBay, Amazon, etc., you no longer “own” your business. Google has a ton of rules telling you what you can and cannot do with your website. Or consider how eBay raises its fees – take it or leave it.  And do you remember when Amazon was firing tens of thousands of affiliates in states that passed unfavorable “nexus” laws?

The solution? SBI! shows its members how to sell their own services and develop/market/sell/support their very own products. We provide a comprehensive, step-by-step tutorial called “Make It!”… because that’s what you do.

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