Author Topic: Small engine repair hustle for a teen - advice sought  (Read 1432 times)

Botany Bae

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Small engine repair hustle for a teen - advice sought
« on: June 02, 2019, 07:17:56 AM »
My 14 year old is extremely mechanically inclined. He's spent the last few years teaching himself how to repair and rebuild small engines -- lawnmowers, weedeaters, etc. He's the go-to guy for seasonal maintenance and small repairs for all of our local family members.

My partner and I are small business owners, so we understand the basic needs and local legalities for him to set up a teen business. He's thinking of offering seasonal maintenance at first, like filters and spark plug changes, and then branching out to repairs. I have liability concerns -- the kid can't afford to replace a fancy beast of a mower if things go awry. Spouse thinks that's silly since there are many people running this hustle out of their garages every summer.

So, has anyone done small engine repair as a side hustle? Any tips and advice for a kid wanting to do this for pocket money?

COEE

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Re: Small engine repair hustle for a teen - advice sought
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2019, 07:50:45 AM »
I say feeding his entrepreneurial spirit now will pay dividends for him later with both sucess and failure.

Get an umbrella policy if you don't already have one, and let the kid go to town.  Some insurance companies charge a little more if you're running a customer facing business out of your home.

COEE

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Re: Small engine repair hustle for a teen - advice sought
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2019, 07:52:39 AM »
Also insist that some percentage of the profits go into a roth IRA. Start good habits now.

ender

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Re: Small engine repair hustle for a teen - advice sought
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2019, 08:18:23 AM »
Also insist that some percentage of the profits go into a roth IRA. Start good habits now.

You could offer to match some of this too.

Adam Zapple

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Re: Small engine repair hustle for a teen - advice sought
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2019, 08:48:36 AM »
My brother ran a business/hobby buying, repairing and selling mostly inexpensive motorcycles.  He started when he was 12. He would fix anything and you'd be surprised how many people will give an ambitious teen mildly abused motorized equipment for free or next to free.  People LOVED seeing a young kid working with his hands and would help him out by donating leaf blowers, snow blowers, heavy equipment, mopeds etc for him to fix up and sell.  He would usually split the sale price with them.

I'm not a worrier so if my son had a business like this I would not have him get insurance.  I'm assuming my umbrella policy would cover any accidents/injuries with the equipment?

FIREstache

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Re: Small engine repair hustle for a teen - advice sought
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2019, 10:15:25 AM »

I had a friend who did small engine repair for a business.  He eventually quit to start his own business.  He bought a generator, a used truck, got incorporated, advertised.  He got almost no work and couldn't make a go of it.  So he threw in the towel and was able to get a job at Walmart as a checkout clerk.

Telecaster

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Re: Small engine repair hustle for a teen - advice sought
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2019, 11:35:46 AM »
I think it is a great idea.  Most people don't store or maintain their small gas engines properly.   Tons of work to be done. 

Goldielocks

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Re: Small engine repair hustle for a teen - advice sought
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2019, 01:33:25 AM »
DS started a lawnmowing business at age 10.  I was surprised that so many people picked him up. He had a horrible mis-spelled ad.   His prices were low, but a lot of the time it was just people wanting to encourage a youngster.   He failed after a couple of months when his partner bailed.

The business issue he learned was that sometimes it takes a lot more time to complete a job than you expect.  a LOT more time.  However, no one was unwilling to pay up if he completed the job, and if he couldn't the worst was one person who refused to pay labour, but they tended to pay for materials even if failed.  He learned after that how to assess and reject work that was  more than he could do.

So, I would say very low risk.  Someone will not give an expensive motor to a 14 year old because they know that their limit of comopensation is their payment to him.

HipGnosis

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Re: Small engine repair hustle for a teen - advice sought
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2019, 07:22:01 AM »
He (You) will need a way to dispose of the broken / replaced parts and the hopeless / not worth repair 'donations'

Aggie1999

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Re: Small engine repair hustle for a teen - advice sought
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2019, 08:15:12 PM »
He (You) will need a way to dispose of the broken / replaced parts and the hopeless / not worth repair 'donations'

If it's any where like the area I live in, anything metal you just put out to the street and the scrappers will grab it before morning.

Papa bear

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Re: Small engine repair hustle for a teen - advice sought
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2019, 10:03:30 PM »
He should be scouting online ads for extremely cheap or free lawn mowers, weed wackers, etc. fix them up and sell them.  And sell them “as is” after a brief demo that they work.   

I would be annoyed doing maintenance and having “warranty” call backs on something.  I would be especially annoyed as a 14 year old.   


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Botany Bae

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Re: Small engine repair hustle for a teen - advice sought
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2019, 06:48:31 AM »
Thank you, so many great ideas and things to think about!

Right now his plan is to offer some very basic services, then take on larger repairs on a case-by-case basis. I'm also going to tell him about Papa Bear's idea on repairing free give-aways and flipping them (that is how he learned to repair these small engines, off garage sale free pile cast-offs).

@FIREstache This is a kid, so he doesn't need to be able to support himself off of what he earns. He is also too young to get a job through traditional channels in our locale. At 14, a job is more about learning than earning, and I think he would learn more setting up his own job than working for a big box store.


Telecaster

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Re: Small engine repair hustle for a teen - advice sought
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2019, 01:16:04 PM »
Thank you, so many great ideas and things to think about!

Right now his plan is to offer some very basic services, then take on larger repairs on a case-by-case basis. I'm also going to tell him about Papa Bear's idea on repairing free give-aways and flipping them (that is how he learned to repair these small engines, off garage sale free pile cast-offs).

He might want to include blade sharpening as well.   It is easy to do with a bench mounted belt sander, and most people never sharpen their blade.  By the way, I'm the poster child for a potential client of his.  I know how to maintain all my small gas engines, I just don't.