The Best Advice Ever To A Teenage Daughter Who Needs To Make Money


She said “No” to me and slammed the door. She was on my paper route.

I asked out every girl on my paper route. All three of them. I liked having a captive audience. I’d hand them the paper and say, “Want to go to a movie?”

They all said “No.”

Well, one girl said, “Yes” but then the next day her brother told me she really meant “No.”

I made about $2 an hour on my paper route. It took me about four hours a day and then another five or six hours on the weekends collecting money.

One time, delivering papers, a guy drove by and yelled, “one day you’re going to rule the world!”

I guess because delivering papers somehow showed work ethic. I worked hard but hated it. I had no life but delivering papers.

So I will tell you another story. Don’t tell anyone please. It’s our secret.
The local video store once gave me pamphlets to put at every house on my route. He gave me a $20 bill. I took it.

Within 15 minutes, I threw all the pamphlets in the sewer and never went back to that store.

All of this is to say:

My daughter is considering taking an $8 an hour job.

I said to her, instead of that: why don’t you go to or and learn basic WordPress skills. You can make blogs for stores.

It would take you ONE DAY to learn the basics.

Then go from door to door to every store in town.

Say for $1000, plus $50 / month maintenance, you’ll make their blog or basic website for them and help them upkeep it. If they require a “shopping cart” then charge them $2500.

She frowned a little and said, “They will say No. They don’t need it.”

She doesn’t want anyone to say No to her. I can relate to that. I don’t like it when people say No to me either.

I said, “OK, we have about 40 stores on this street. Let’s say only 2 say yes. That’s $2000. It will take you ten hours to do the work.

That’s $200 an hour instead of $8 an hour.

And then the $100 a month you make in maintenance will take you about two hours a month.

Here’s another idea, I said. To be on Wikipedia you need about 10 media references.

We were in a restaurant. I pointed at the wall. “How many reviews does this restaurant have.”

She was digging in. “I don’t know.” She looked away.

“More than ten,” I said. “So you can make a Wikipedia page for them. Charge $200. Maintain it for $10 a month.”

Or maybe every store needs a Facebook page. 1 in 7 Americans are on Facebook RIGHT NOW THIS SECOND.

Restaurants can use their Page to get local customers to “Like” them in exchange for coupons and future messages.

Again: $500 for setup and $20 per store per month to maintain.

She didn’t want to do it. It’s not a skills issue. ANYONE can get the skills by studying one or two online courses for about a day or two.

She does have skills at drawing logos, editing short videos, and some basic design skills she can improve with a course or two.

On fiverr or she can do an infographic for $20-50 and it would take her thirty minutes.

Why work for a boss?

Here’s my guess. She wants to work at a hang out place. So she can work while seeing her friends.

Ok, I get that. I would love to work at the same time that I hang out with my friends.

But if she started doing what I suggest here’s what she would learn:

A) She would create something out of nothing.

Most jobs don’t let you create something out of nothing.

You just move some shit over to some other shit and get paid shit.

The best things in the world are when you create something out of nothing. Like: I created her (in part) out of nothing.

I admit I had help with that.


B) Basic computer skills.

Seriously: if you think you don’t have computer skills, take three online courses.

Now you are in the top 1% of the world in computer skills and can charge for those skills.


C) Rejection.

The most AMAZING skill to learn. I’ve put in my 10,000 hours of being rejected. I am a MASTER of rejection.

Everytime you get rejected you learn a little more about yourself, about how to approach people, about building strength, about getting out your comfort zone.


D) Sales.

She’ll learn to look at a situation and find what the urgent problem is, what a useful solution can be, and how can she uniquely solve it.


E) Your new best customers are your old customers.

Once she starts making money she’ll do what most people do – she’ll want to make more money. There’s only two ways people who make money make more money.

1. Get new customers.

2. Offer your old customers new services.

“2” is the most reliable technique people have used since 3000 BC. Which would force her to learn even newer skills and solve bigger problems for her customers.


F) Outsourcing.

Maybe someone wants a shopping cart integrated with a database of products.

That’s too much for my little girl to handle.

She can outsource that to India for $100 and pocket $900. Not so bad.


G) Friendships.

Ultimately, customers become friends. How come? Because in a good business you don’t want to do business with people you don’t like.

People think business is “Shark Tank”. Real business is more like “Tuna Tank”.

Customers become friends, they become testimonials, they pay your bills, they refer other customers to you.

Some customers even want to smoke crack with you but I’d advise her against that.

Customers are a good, fun thing and some of them end up changing your life (don’t smoke crack with them, honey).


H) You don’t need a boss to make money.

Remember: every time you have a boss – he’s taking some of your money. And his boss is taking some of your money.

I hope my daughter will do one of these things but I don’t think she will.

I hope my daughter realizes that the average multimillionaire has seven different sources of income. A job is only one source.

Guess what?

Being an Entrepreneur is also ONLY ONE SOURCE.

I don’t recommend being an entrepreneur (i.e. starting a company, hiring employees, having an 85% chance of failure and depression) unless you are a masochist.

Some people say to me, “how can I convince so-and-so to “choose themselves” or “not go to college” or “be more creative” or “quit their job” or …”

You can’t. Nobody can. And I guess that’s the whole point.

I couldn’t convince Beth Mosesman on my paper route to date me. Even though my braces were glistening with passion. My greasy hair was reflecting the sun. My paper route was reeking of luxury.

I can’t convince my daughter to make money the way I want her to.

The best I can be is a good example. Sometimes I’ve been a bad example but all I have to work with is “now”.

Right now she’s a teenager so doesn’t really listen to me. Teenagers have to bond with their peers and reject their parents because 200,000 years ago it was their peers that would save them from lions. Not old people like me.

I don’t know if I could save my daughter from a lion but I would try.

But she still watches what I do.

The greatest miracle on this planet is that a small cloud can block the sun.

But only for a little while. The sun will come up again tomorrow. It will power the entire planet. Nothing can stop it.

What does this have to do with my daughter rejecting my advice? I don’t know.

Maybe everything.

See also: 10 Jobs That Pay $100k Or More (WITHOUT A College Degree)…

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  • Jacqueline Kane Babbitt

    Great advice. Perhaps my 9 yr. old will take it. Will sort out the child labor laws mumbo jumbo. With gratitude.

  • Mr. Altucher, do you live in California? If yes, (or no), would you be interested in sharing your 40 Alternatives to College at my event in 2017?

  • Your price metrics are just crazy. Try $100 at most to set up a site and then $10 to $20 month to look at it for two hours. Wake up, you compete with India.

    • Pearl Harbor

      $2500?! I had to look again at the date of this article. I thought it must be at least 5 years old. And good luck finding an Indian to do good work. Good programming subcontractors are out there but you will go through hundreds first before you find one.

      • Bob Cafr

        Pearl Harbor your correct. I have had clients go elsewhere because the other guys were cheaper. I have had clients run with others that were not cheaper but claimed to be experts. Most of both types of clients have come back apologized and asked me to fix what the cheaper and the supposed experts did.

    • WinWithStrategy

      I love the way James articulates his thoughts and an average reader might not get it.
      When you think outside the box after reading this article you will learn more.
      Kudos James

  • Art V

    James … ALL great ideas (especially the creating your own job part) although your pricing is a bit off … there are people that will work with you (at a higher cost) simply because they like you and trust you … as you well know, trust in business is everything!

  • Loved it!! Thanks!!!

  • great advice, better than working at any random job that pays zippo…

  • Angelique Tiara

    James, present your ideas to your daughter as an “experiment”, dare her to prove you wrong. Tell her if your ideas DON’T work, she “wins”. Give her a little taste of something she cannot understand yet. Hands-on guidance and a “dare” or experiment will challenge her to see things in another way. Use her “resistance” to your advantage……it might pique her interest coming at her through the “back door”.

  • Nick Tamble

    Love the bit on entrepreneurship… Multiple streams is all the rave, though doesn’t align with focusing on one definite chief aim. Would love to read a take on diversification without diluting energy for self and to share with my 5 year old.

  • Ken_Long

    This requires a certain kind of sales and marketing attitude. It may be your way to make money but it’s not something I would want to do, and that’s certainly not the way I would want to do it.
    Here’s another approach:
    Learn the skill, even just a little bit and see what you do with it. If it fits you’ll fall right into it and it wont feel like a lot of work. Follow what you like, what you have natural inclinations for. Work cheap, work to build your skills first, only charge a lot for something you’ve done dozens of times and know you are good at. Make sure that whatever you do is the best you can do and represents you and what you want to be.
    Dont worry about the money, If your good enough the money will come around through referrals, without all the pressure and sales. You may have to do a little sales and marketing but at least you’ll be doing it on something you understand and care about.

  • nomi bekaris

    Beautiful thinking. Hello right from the center of the asia.