If you’re just starting the summer job-hunt you could be frustrated by the fact that a lot of positions typically held by teens are now being filled by an older set.  It’s tough to find work out there these days, so in this economy what’s a teen seeking some extra cash to do?

As The Wall Street Journal reports in their story Cupcakes and Cattle Breeding: Teens Turn to Summer Start-Ups, many teens are turning to their own entrepreneurial ideas to put some cash in their wallets and even add to their college funds.  Teens are going beyond the tried and true lawn-mowing services (which can still rake in a pretty penny) to trying ventures like web design and cupcake catering for birthday parties. And it’s worth mentioning that the experience of starting your own business could make for a great college admissions essay topic (hmmm…something to keep in mind for the future).

Start-ups, of course, can be risky since they require some seed money to pay for supplies and/or advertising, but here’s some tips from WSJ to get the most out of your start-up venture:

Find and fill an unmet need. For example, the skills many teens use every day can be marketable. On Elance.com, a Web site where freelancers’ services are bought and sold, demand among business clients for help establishing a presence on Facebook or Twitter is rising fast, a spokeswoman says. The site requires providers to be at least 18 years old.

Look for a low-cost niche. After a vendor knocked at Loree Greta’s door last summer in Austin, Texas, offering to clean her windows for $150, she suggested her 14-year-old son, Max (the brother of jewelry maker Marlo Adelle), make the rounds offering to do the same for one-third as much. Brandishing a long-handled squeegee, vinegar, buckets and newspaper, Max earned about $300 washing windows.

Find something you love. Jessica Cervantes, a Miami 18-year-old who loves to bake, grew tired of cleaning up cupcake messes and smeary frosting spots after birthday parties for her young cousins. So she cooked up a fancy cupcake on an edible cookie stick and is now selling “Popsy Cakes” for $30 a dozen. Although it’s tough cramming in baking and delivering orders with her homework, she made $6,000 last year for her college fund.

Expect setbacks. During Ms. Cervantes’s first few tries at making Popsy Cakes, “no one wanted to eat them,” she says. Mr. Hunt, a Web designer, says he tried at first to design an online game but failed. Even if you fail, he advises, “go for it. Don’t stop, because you will get somewhere if you try hard enough.”

Have you had success with a summer start-up of your own?  What made your business successful?

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