If your teenager wants to earn some extra spending cash on their own schedule, starting their own small business could be a great way to get it. Teens have been doing jobs for people in their communities like babysitting, mowing lawns, and tutoring for decades. With the internet, the types of businesses and potential audience available to teen entrepreneurs have grown in unprecedented ways. No matter what your teen’s interests are, there’s a good business idea for them on this list.
Why Start a Youth-Run Business?
Starting a side business is a great idea for teens who want to earn money but are either too young or don’t want to work a more traditional after-school job. What starts as a way to earn extra cash after school could become a full-fledged career over time. Here are some of the benefits of being a teen entrepreneur.
Time On Your Side
Young small business owners have plenty of time to figure out what they want to do with their lives. That means the stakes are lower for trying out being a small business owner. If it turns out that you don’t want to do a version of it long-term, it’s not a big deal to change directions.
From saving up for a car to just going out with friends on weekends, extra cash can make life better for any teen. Working a business on your own time is a great way to get it without asking your parents.
Fewer Living Expenses
For adult small business owners, they need to make enough money to support themselves and often their own families. Since most teenagers in the US don’t pay for their own rent, groceries, and utilities payments, teen entrepreneurs can reinvest any profits they make back into their business. That way it can grow faster and make even more money.
Set Your Own Schedule
Working at the mall, a fast food place, or other businesses that employ students can also be great for teens. However, it can be a challenge to fit a job with hours set by a boss into a schedule with school, extracurriculars, responsibilities at home, and a social life. When you run your own business, you don’t have to find a co-worker to cover your shift when something else needs to take priority.
What Makes A Good Small Business Idea For Teens?
Not every small business idea is a good fit for teenagers. Anything requiring full-time devotion and a lot of startup capital is better off left for the adults. As you and your teen brainstorm small business ideas, focus on ideas that are:
- Home-based or easily accessible
- Low-cost upfront
1. Home-Based or Easily Accessible
If your teen doesn’t drive or have access to public transportation, getting to job locations could be a challenge. Work they can do from home or within walking distance would be the best options in those cases.
Like adults who start businesses as a side hustle alongside their full-time job, teens also need flexibility in their business ownership. After all, school is their most important job and they’ll still need spare time for extracurricular activities, family responsibilities, and a healthy social life. A business that doesn’t require a lot of hours during a set time is a teen’s best bet.
3. Low-Cost Upfront
When it comes to teen business ideas, choosing one with a low-cost financial investment is an important way to set up for success. The less they need to operate the business, the less they need to buy before getting started. As their parents, you also don’t want to be on the hook financially if the business doesn’t work out long-term.
How to Start a Business as a Teen
Many teens are capable of running a successful business with little assistance from adults, but there are legal and financial considerations for minors starting a business. In most places, minors can’t register a business on their own or sign legally binding contracts. Starting a business bank account also requires parental assistance and many services related to starting a business and collecting payments require users to be 18 or older.
It’s also important for teens and their parents to get on the same page about how much involvement the parents have. Here are a few questions to discuss to get you started:
- How much time does each party have to dedicate to the business each week?
- How much autonomy should the teen have?
- Who will be responsible for the finances
- What are the ground rules for both parties? What are the consequences for breaking them?
- What is the exit strategy?
37 Business Ideas for Teens
Without further ado, here are thirty seven great business ideas for teens with all interests and skills.
Academic tutoring is an easy, low-cost business idea for teens. Whether your teen is good at math, science, English, or a foreign language, they can use their skills to help students that are struggling with the subjects they excel in. Academic tutors who prepare students for the ACT, SATs, AP tests, and other standardized tests are in especially high demand.
2. Washing Cars
If your teen can get a bucket, a soft sponge, window cleaner, and polishing wax, they can start a car washing business on weekends and in the summer. After all, everyone with a car wants to keep it shiny and clean.
Babysitting is a classic teen business idea. For ages, teenagers have helped out their neighbors and family friends by watching their small children and made money from it. This also makes it a high-competition small business. Taking a local class on babysitting and child care can help your teen stand out.
4. Pet Sitting
If your teen loves animals, pet sitting could be a perfect business for them. Between the flexible hours, virtually nonexistent startup costs, and low effort compared to most other side businesses, it’s ideal for teens. And, of course, they get paid to spend time with pets.
5. Dog Walking
If your teen can handle a higher-effort job with animals, becoming a dog walker could be for them. A successful dog walker is patient, dependable, and comfortable with dogs of all sizes. Sometimes dog walkers need to pick up the dog and transport them somewhere else, so it’s a better fit for teens with access to a car.
6. Lawn Care
Mowing neighbors’ lawns is another classic service for young entrepreneurs. If your teen already mows the lawn at home, all they have to do is market their skills to the neighborhood. Summer is a great time to start a lawn care business because that’s when more clients will need it and when your teen will have more time.
7. Cleaning Service
If your teen does a good job cleaning the house, they could make some good cash by starting a cleaning service for their neighbors’ houses. Plenty of local homeowners may not be able to afford a maid, but would be happy to pay a teenager to clean for them.
8. House Sitting
Summer and breaks from school are high-demand times for traveling. While neighbors and family friends are away, they need someone to stop by the house, take in the mail, water the plants, and perform other similar tasks. Starting a house sitting business isn’t just a great way to make extra money, it’s an easy way to fill a need in the community.
9. Running Errands
If your teen drives, working as an errand runner or personal shopper for people in the community, especially if they are housebound or have limited mobility, is a great way to start a business without any specialized skills or equipment.
10. Seasonal Chores
Not everyone has the time and energy for the home-based chores that come along seasonally. Your teen could easily start a business doing seasonal odd jobs in the community. These could include putting up and taking down outdoor decorations, shoveling snow, gift wrapping, raking leaves, cleaning pools, et cetera.
11. Selling Art and Handmade Crafts
If you have a creative, artsy teen, they can improve their skills and earn extra cash at the same time by selling their creations. They can keep it local by selling at craft fairs or sell to a larger audience on Etsy or their own online store.
13. Making Greeting Cards
Greeting cards are a great handmade craft for teens to sell. Personalized designs, beautiful artistry, and clever messages can delight friends and family and create demand with the recipients of the cards.
14. Teaching Art or Music Lessons
Like academic tutoring, teaching art and music lessons is a great way for creative teens to share their passions and skills and get paid for it. They can offer lessons to peers and younger students in the community alike.
15. Graphic Design
Starting a graphic design business is a great idea for teens who are both tech-savvy and artistically inclined. They could start by making designs on T-shirts and hats for friends and then expand into freelance work for local businesses. If your teen decides to pursue graphic design as a long-term career, building up a portfolio early will give them a huge leg up down the road.
Starting a blog takes longer to turn a profit than other teen business ideas, but it’s still a great idea if your teen has writing skills and knowledge about a specific topic. With a dash of tech know-how, some skill for writing, Once they grow their audience, they’ll be able to partner with sponsors and affiliate partners to monetize their blog. If your teen is willing to put in the work and wait for it to pay off, this could be a great way to make extra money.
Like blogging, starting a podcast won’t mean money overnight. But if your teen is passionate about a topic and has a knack for growing an audience, they could make a fair chunk of change as a podcaster.
18. Video Game Live Streaming
Yes, your teen can make money from playing video games. Twitch.TV and other live-streaming sites let video game enthusiasts grow a following from broadcasting their gameplay sessions with commentary. However, it’s not overnight money. Growing an audience and developing a niche and persona take work.
19. Photography or Videography
If your teen can afford a small upfront investment for equipment and has the skills, they can get local gigs as a photographer or videographer. A great part of this type of business is all the niches within it. Your teen can specialize in family portraits, event photography, social media content for local businesses, pet photography, and more.
20. Web Design
Teens with website design skills can go a long way by offering their services as a web designer to local businesses. Building professional relationships with business owners in this way isn’t just a great way to make money from clients, but it can help your teen with networking later on.
Transcribing interviews and other audio content for local businesses is another business idea with flexible hours and little to no startup costs. If your teen has a good ear and fast typing skills, they can find clients in a variety of industries that require transcribers.
22. Data Entry
Using spreadsheets and working with data are essential skills for many professions. To learn these skills, teens can start a data entry business. Freelance data entry clients are easy to find on marketplaces and job boards.
23. Creating an App or Online Game
It’s easier than ever to create an app or an online game. If your teen has a creative idea and the technical know-how to execute it, their own game can become a reality. If it’s featured on app stores, they can make a profit from it.
24. Social Media Marketing
Paid social media work has exploded in popularity over the recent years. If a business isn’t on social media these days, it might as well not exist. Not all local business owners are savvy enough with social media platforms to do it themselves though. If your teen is always posting, they can monetize their skills while helping out local businesses. You never know how these connections could pay off later on.
25. Social Media Influencing and Content Creation
Your teen could also monetize their own social media following by partnering with businesses to create sponsored content. Starting off with small local businesses is a great way to get their foot in the door as an influencer, since they’re usually working on a smaller budget than big businesses.
26. Social Media Consulting
Social media consulting is another social media business idea for teens. Like social media marketing, it involves helping businesses with their social media presences. However it’s not quite the same. Social media consultants audit clients’ online presences and give them suggestions on how they can improve. Businesses everywhere strive to appeal to teenagers. Who would be better to tell them how than an actual teenager?
A landscaper designs, builds, and maintains gardens and landscapes. There are a variety of opportunities in the landscaping industry, some of which can be fit for hard working teens. Reading online forums and watching videos are great places where your teen can learn more about landscaping and figure out if they’re interested in it before they get started.
After that, your teens should brainstorm some landscaping business ideas based on their interests and research the equipment they would need. Businesses that require power tools obviously need a bigger upfront investment.
Opening an online reseller business is a great option for teens with an interest in entrepreneurship. Reselling starts with buying clothes, accessories, collectibles, and other similar items from stores and reselling them online. These sales can take place on your own website or on marketplaces like eBay, ThredUp, Poshmark, and more.
29. Tech Support
Starting a tech support business is a great way for technically savvy teens to get experience in a high-demand field that could become a long-term career. If your teen knows a lot about tech, has good people skills, and doesn’t mind asking “have you tried turning it off and back on again?” a lot, tech support could be the small business idea for them.
30. Sign Spinning
Spinning signs to attract new customers to local businesses is a very teen-friendly business idea. It’s also an easy business to hire more employees for. Hiring friends as sign spinners can grow your teen’s business and your client list. If they get really good at it, they can enter the World Sign Spinning Competition for cash prizes. Some states require a work permit for teenagers to spin signs, so be sure to look into that before you’re out on the sidewalk.
31. YouTube Personality
Your teen may spend a lot of time watching YouTube, but if they’re funny and have the skills to grow an audience, it can be their job. Monetizing YouTube videos isn’t guaranteed. Growing a big enough audience to qualify takes time and effort. Many YouTubers supplement their ad revenue with affiliate programs, selling merchandise, and brand partnerships.
32. Cake Decorating
What’s a special occasion without cake? Building up a roster of local clients as a cake decorator could be a lucrative side business all year round. The work is flexible and often home-based. If your teen is interested in cake decorating but doesn’t have the skills to start charging for it, look into an apprenticeship at a bakery. That way, they can get paid as they develop their skills and make even more money when they strike out on their own.
33. Makeup Artist
If your teen loves makeup and working with people, they could make money from their hobby as a makeup artist. Many professional makeup artists get their start by doing friends’ makeup for events and building a social media following with tutorial videos. These are both things teenagers can do and enjoy. It’s easier to find new clients after building a reputation with these strategies. If your teen hones their skills and loves working with makeup, they could make it a lucrative career. The most successful makeup artists make six figure incomes.
34. Party Entertainer
There are a variety of types of party entertainment that teenagers can get paid gigs for. Some ideas include
- Fire spinner
- Hula hoop dancer
- Character impersonator
- Face painter
If your teen is skilled in any of these ways, they could be the life of any local party or event and pocket some cash for it.
35. Photo and Video Editing
Editing photos and videos is a highly marketable skill. If your teen enjoys editing photos in their free time, why not make it a business? Social media influencers, local entertainers, small businesses, and other people who regularly create photo and video content that needs to be edited are all potential clients.
A great place to start could be charging friends at school who aspire to get popular on social media. Then, approach local businesses and offer to improve their online presence with catchier photos and videos.
36. Freelance Writing
Wordsmith teens can get started with freelance writing before they finish high school. Businesses need a wide variety of written material and often pay freelancers to do it instead of hiring someone in-house for it. Most clients ask for writing samples before they hire a freelancer. A school assignment that your teen is proud of could do the trick. Freelance gig websites like Fiverr and Upwork can be a good resource to look for early clients.
37. Farmer’s Market Vending
If you have the space and the green thumb to grow produce in your home or garden, you and your teen can sell the food you grow at your local farmer’s market. You don’t have to have a lot of fruits and vegetables to get started. Over time, you can figure out what you like to grow and what your customers like to buy the most.
38. Print on Demand
Selling T-shirts, hats, stickers, and other merchandise with their own designs on them in a print on demand shop is a low effort, fun side hustle for teens and adults alike. Simply upload your designs and the provider creates the item and ships it to the customer when they place an order.
How Teens Can Promote Their Business
Once your teen knows what kind of business they want to start, it’s time to get the word out there to potential clients. The main ways to do that are word of mouth, social media, and business cards and fliers.
Word of Mouth
If the client base for your teen business is local, word of mouth is a powerful driver of business. Their peers at school, neighbors, friends of the family, and small businesses you and your teen frequent are all part of the target audience. Encourage clients to spread the word when they’re satisfied with the services.
When your teen posts about the services they provide on their social media accounts, it can go a long way to get local people’s attention. Local pages, groups, and forums are great places to promote the business.
Business Cards and Fliers
The internet may do a lot of heavy lifting for business promotion, but going old-school has its place as well. Having business cards ready to go can help conversations about your teen business turn into clients. Fliers in local areas where the client base hangs out can also get the right people’s attention.
Creating a Website
No matter how small your business is, it can benefit from a professional, well-designed website. The website can serve as a hub for information, updates, and customer reviews for your teen business. If you use a website builder, it’s easier and more affordable than you may think. Be sure to link to it in social media posts and include the domain name on business cards and fliers.
Teen Business Idea FAQs
What Business Can a Teen Start?
Which business is the most appropriate fit for your teenager depends on their maturity, interests, amount of free time, and ability to take initiative. Though any of the businesses on this list are great options, here are some of the best ideas for teens:
- A lawn mowing service
- A cleaning service
- Live streaming video
- Becoming a social media influencer
How Can I Help My Child Start Their Own Business?
When your teen starts their own business, it can be a challenge to strike a balance between supporting them and micromanaging. The first thing you can do is encourage them to come up with their own business ideas. Don’t push them too hard towards something they’re not interested in because you think they should do it. They’ll need adult support with creating a business plan. This will include figuring out costs, a marketing plan, and managing their business around their other obligations.
However, let them learn from their mistakes within reason. Everyone needs to learn how to handle failure. Taking care of every roadblock for them will do more harm than good in the long run. You can give advice and guide them in the right direction, but the final decisions should ultimately be theirs.
What Is The Appropriate Age For Starting A Business?
People under the age of 18 can’t form a legal business entity, but parents can do so on their behalf. However, if your teen is taking money under the table for the work that they’re doing, kids as young as 13 can start a business like babysitting or doing chores for neighbors. If your teen wants to start a business and is responsible enough to manage their time, go for it!
How Sav Can Help
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