Spencer and Grant Kelly, Expedition Soaps
Homeschooling is a natural way to encourage teen entrepreneurs, who often go on to start their own businesses. Why? Because homeschooling is like entrepreneurship.
Homeschoolers are independent thinkers, driven by curiosity and love to learn new information. They do not mind going their own unique way, and they adapt to changes easily. If they have a hobby, they have the time to develop their skills and become experts at an early age. If they have a business idea, they have the ability to find the resources they need to pursue their goals as teen entrepreneurs.
Whether it’s volunteering, part-time employment, eBay sales, or working from home in a cottage industry, homeschooling allows more flexibility to explore real life opportunities and find business connections. What hobbies and odd jobs have you been doing in your spare time?
- Mowing lawns?
- Pet sitting?
- House cleaning?
- Sewing face masks?
- Making jewelry?
- Designing websites?
From purchasing supplies to streamlining production to advertising your services, you might be surprised at the business management skills you are learning in the process!
Here are 10 homeschooled teen entrepreneurs, all with unique interests, who honed their craft and went on to become successful business owners.
Natalie Weber (née Wickham) operates an independent piano studio in Derby, Kansas. Natalie was homeschooled starting in 4th grade, and wrote about her experiences in Pajama School. After graduating from high school, Natalie continued her education through distance learning. In March 2006, she achieved her goal of becoming a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music. In addition to teaching, Natalie founded and runs MusicMattersBlog.com – an on-line compendium of creative, practical, and up-to-date resources for music teachers. Natalie said, “The average graduating high school senior will have spent almost 30,000 hours at school, plus even more on homework! When you consider that the recognized number of hours it takes to become an expert in a given field is approximately 10,000 you begin to realize the incredible potential that exists for homeschoolers…if we use our time wisely.”
Joshua DeJong owns and operates The Rigger Depot, a small shop dedicated to manufacturing high-quality replica WWII-era parachute gear. Joshua’s parachute manufacturing business actually started out as a hobby. At the age of nine, while watching The Longest Day movie, he was inspired by watching the allied paratroopers descend into France on D-Day to liberate Europe. Joshua based his initial parachute designs on WWII movie depictions. He built his first prototypes from plastic bags and packing tape, learning hands-on about everything from aerodynamics to tensile strengths. Joshua also read every WWII parachute-related book he could find, compiled thousands of period photographs, and even purchased real historic parachutes to aid in accurate reproduction. As a result of his extensive research, by the time he graduated high school, Joshua had already developed a top-notch reputation as owner/operator of The Rigger Depot. He has worked on numerous films, supplying custom-made production items, as well as technical advising. His parachute equipment can be seen in the movies Unbroken, Overlord, Dauntless, and Midway.
Nicole Bianchi recently relocated to North Carolina where she works from home to help creatives and small businesses (both locally and around the world) craft compelling words and build influential online platforms. Homeschooled by her parents, Nicole had lots of time to work on developing her writing skills. In middle school, she printed a literary newsletter that contained short stories, articles, and book reviews. When she was 12 years old, Nicole’s parents bought her a website and encouraged her to transfer the newsletter online. At age 14, Nicole started her first blog and customized the design by teaching herself HTML and CSS. She says, “I soon fell in love with WordPress and began designing websites for friends and family.” Nicole graduated from The King’s College in New York City with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Knowing that web design is only one aspect of a powerful online platform, she also does business blogging, advanced social media integration, and targeted SEO copywriting. Whether you are a small business, a church, a nonprofit, a blogger, an artist, or an entrepreneur, Nicole can help you optimize your use of the internet and social media tools in order to better share your ideas with local readers and those around the world.
Richard Lorenzen was born in Long Island, New York. His father, also named Richard, is a New York City Fire Department lieutenant. His mother, Chris, is a freelance writer who homeschooled Richard and his younger sister, Katie. Lorenzen said that homeschooling boosted his work ethic, and led him to develop interests in topics beyond the syllabus. Richard gained an early working knowledge of writing, computers, and business. Like many other great minds, reading books was pivotal to his success. After reading Donald Trump’s Surviving At the Top, Lorenzen started his first online business venture at the young age of 13. Fifth Avenue Brands, which he founded at the age of 15, has become one of New York’s fastest-growing public relations firms. His agency specializes in data-driven PR, serving clients in a variety of industries. As a successful young entrepreneur, Lorenzen has been recognized as a leading voice for entrepreneurship, especially for millennials. He speaks to audiences ranging from high school students to CEOs at conferences, community centers, and schools across the nation.
“Most homeschool families have a bit of entrepreneurship blood in their veins,” wrote Amy, “and a stay-at-home daughter can certainly benefit from knowing how to do some basic home-business skills.” She further explained, “When I was an emotional, adolescent, about to go into an eighth grade class where the teacher thought dyslexia was an excuse for what he called my ‘stupidity’ my parents made a drastic decision to bring me home for my education. From that day forward my life changed! I was finally able to find out who I really was without all the peer pressure of other kids and I was able to learn how to learn. I’m forever grateful to my parents for homeschooling me! As I began to love school one subject drew me in—it was history. The stories of individuals who did extraordinary things inspired me. After I graduated I began writing about God’s hand in history! While suffering from a chronic illness, the Lord led me to start an online business which I could do from home.” Amy sells her history curriculum, historical fiction, and costume books on her website. She told us, “as a homeschool grad, I can look back over the years and be thankful that God led me to start a business that would encourage and bless homeschool families.”
Spencer Kelly is the owner and founder of Expedition Soaps. When he was younger, he found it difficult to simply have a conversation with someone. Now the 18-year-old with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, has become a spokesperson for how homeschooling can help struggling students excel. Spencer’s soap company offers luxury soaps, all made with a base of five oils (hemp, coconut, soybean, corn, olive) and Organic Shea Butter. His business has garnered more than just sales; it has brought him local media attention and the chance to present to a national audience. But oddly enough, Spencer says, it all started in response to a petty crime. As Spencer tells it, he and a friend had their bicycles stolen from outside a local restaurant. His father agreed to replace his missing bike on the condition that Spencer eventually pay him back. He said, “Being brought up with a capitalistic mindset and having read many books on business, I instantly began my quest for a way to make the money to repay my dad.” And so, as a means of earning money to cover the cost of the bike, the idea for Expedition Soaps was born! His younger brother Grant, 15, took over as General Manager of the company while Spencer attends Oakland University’s Honors Business Program. During the coronavirus pandemic, they donated 1154 body butters and 156 lip balms to frontline medical workers at seven Detroit area hospitals.
Ella Kerrisk credits her family and homeschooling for her successful photography business. She said she remembers taking photographs with her parents’ point-and-shoot camera as early as age 5, and then upgrading to a Canon Rebel by her early teens. But it was the gift of a professional-grade camera from her grandmother that encouraged Ella to take her hobby to the next level. She started with photographing flowers, then progressed to people. One of her siblings has special needs, which gave Ella experience working with children who may need a little more patience. By age 16, she had started advertising her services. It helped that being home-educated provided her with a flexible schedule. “Had I not been in homeschool,” Ella declared, “I wouldn’t be where I am today.” She studied photography at Lanier Technical College and the University of North Georgia, trained under a special needs therapist, and is now a certified professional photographer specializing in special needs photography.
Homeschooling enabled Thomas Peters to spend more time on his passions of technology, theology, politics, culture, and web design. As a teen entrepreneur, Thomas not only had his own website/blog but he also worked as a freelance web designer. Now a software developer, Peters made two apps that facilitate political engagement and commitment among conservatives, free from the political censorship imposed by Silicon Valley giants. In 2014, he launched uCampaign.co for individuals and groups to engage their supporters. In 2017, Peters launched RumbleUp.com, a scaleable peer-to-peer (P2P) texting platform for political fundraising, polling, and get out the vote efforts. His clients have included the UK Conservative Party, Canadian and Australian Conservative Parties, the National Rifle Association, the Susan B. Anthony List, the Republican National Committee, Ted Cruz for President, Rand Paul for Senate, and Donald J. Trump for President.
Joanna Duka is co-owner of Brush & Nib Studio, an upscale hand-painting, hand-lettering, and calligraphy company in Phoenix, Arizona. Joanna was homeschooled all the way from preschool to high school. She said, “I started with a very formal homeschooling in preschool. I had the flags on the wall and the report cards and everything. But it changed throughout the years, and I just had so many neat experiences in it to pursue different interests, to become entrepreneurial, to experience things that you don’t necessarily get to experience outside of the flexibility and the power of homeschooling.” Joanna had always been artistic, and when she was a teenager, she got a calligraphy tool kit. “People would say to me, ‘You should do a business with your calligraphy; your handwriting is really cool.’ I would think ‘oh, someday,’ and I was in college and then starting my career. But then the timing was right, and I was leaving the job that I was in, and I felt like the Lord was saying this is the right time to do this. So I went for it; it was very exciting, there’s something exhilarating about being in the process of starting a new business and envisioning everything that’s going to go into that. When you combine that with something you love like art, it’s just a very, it’s an exciting moment as you’re first getting it off the ground.”
Jedin Bianchi’s love of playing the piano led to a career in piano tuning. He acquired his first set of tuning tools at age 12. In high school, he pursued studies as a piano technician. Jedin was certified by the American School of Piano Tuning just before his 18th birthday. Now he has his own business doing piano tuning, pitch raising, and piano repairs for homes, churches, and other venues. He also installs player piano systems – but unlike the ones that were popular in the early 20th century, these new systems are controlled using your smartphone via WiFi! If you live in the Phoenix, Arizona, area and need your piano turned or fixed, give Jedin Bianchi a call.
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