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Still in school, and they're CEOs

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Meet Abigael Anthony.

Like most teenagers, she's working this summer to earn a little extra cash. The only difference is she's working in a business she started.

"It just grew from nowhere," says Abigael, CEO of Animalbytes, a Web site that collects, organizes, and makes available free software from all over the Internet.

She actually started the site four years ago - when she was a high-school freshman. Today she earns up to $700 a month, all from advertising. Abigael is hardly alone.

The entrepreneurial wave that hit adults is trickling down to high schoolers and middle schoolers - and even some elementary school students are setting up shop and appointing themselves CEO.

Thanks to computers and the Internet, today's tech-savvy teens are discovering that starting a business is as easy as learning how to ride a bike.

Not surprisingly, the majority of businesses that teenagers are now starting are in the high-tech realm - although many still favor T-shirt, jewelry, cookie, and craft businesses.

And while the story of the kid who parks a computer in his parents' basement and makes as much money as Bill Gates is the exception, plenty of teen businesses do thrive - like Michael Dell of Dell Computers, who started his direct-sale company at 19 and now, in his early 30s, is the youngest billionaire on Forbes magazine's list of the richest people in America.

A generation with 'the tools'

"Kids today have the tools to be more entrepreneurial and they're taking advantage of that," says Kathleen Allen, who runs the undergraduate entrepreneurial program at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Of the 100 students in her program this past year, she says, nearly a third have been doing something entrepreneurial since their teens.

Statistics on this group are hard to come by - in many respects teen entrepreneurs are an underground movement.

But studies show that today's 13- to 19-year-olds are big on being their own boss.

Consider: 70 percent of high-schoolers say they want to own their own businesses, according to a survey by Yankelovich Partners.

Several factors are driving the trend:


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