Many teens are starting their own businesses before they even leave high school in this day and age! Today’s teens bring so much wisdom to the table and are willing to confidently put themselves out there to build a world they actually want to live in.
Every day, new ideas and products are being introduced to the marketplace, and many of them are developed by teens!
Maybe you have seen your parents or friends start side hustles or businesses and have seen the benefits and challenges that come from that.
Maybe you have an idea bursting to come out, but you don’t know how to get started. We’re here to help!
Benefits of Being a Teen Entrepreneur
Most businesses that are started by teens have a low barrier to entry, meaning that the cost to start is low and the marketplace is not saturated with other businesses providing the same service.
Free time after school or on weekends can be spent building a business from the ground up without the need to take away from a full-time job or extended family obligations. With time on their hands, teens can network with other young entrepreneurs, build their skills, and try different business ideas to see what fits their ideal lifestyle or life goals.
Many teens have a natural technical knowledge that gives them a leg up on their older counterparts that may not be as skilled in using various tools and resources. This knowledge saves time, decreases frustration, and provides enormous value to potential business clients.
Teens have the time to try out different business ideas without feeling the crunch to pay household bills yet. Adults who start businesses later in life have a higher rate of failure because a family relies on them to pay the mortgage and put food on the table.
And if one idea doesn’t work out? That’s ok! Try out other ideas and build different skills in a relatively safe practice environment because the adults in your life should be willing to support your learning.
Ideas for Teen Entrepreneurs
- Social Media Marketing: Every business needs social media, even the local pizzeria. Build a portfolio of your work by offering to create targeted social media campaigns for local businesses at an inexpensive rate while you build your skills.
- Freelance gigs. Freelancing can involve many different skills from building websites to writing content for businesses in many different niches from dog sitting to tech startups.
- Pet sitting. As families get back to vacationing, visiting family out of town, or going back to the office full time, pet sitting is becoming an in-demand service that many pet parents are willing to pay a premium for. Reach out to family and friends to offer your services then encourage word of mouth as you get raving reviews!
- Selling homemade crafts. Platforms like Etsy have provided the ideal environment to buy and sell quality homemade goods from all over the globe or even digital products that can sell over and over again without having to ship anything.
- Electronics repair. There is a huge market in every city for skilled business owners to fix cell phone screens or debug laptops. Most adults own at least 2 major electronic devices with many owning more, which gives a huge potential target audience.
- Babysitting. Parents want someone that they can trust around their children when they leave the house for work, school, or date night. Getting a certificate in CPR or having references from previous gigs will put parents’ minds at ease about leaving their young children with you and establish you as an authority.
- Lawn care. Professional lawn care at an affordable price is worth paying for and takes the burden off of adults that have families and are working full time jobs. Tools necessary to start this business are probably already in your parents garage and passing out fliers about your services is a great marketing tool.
- Party entertainment. The latest trend in kids parties is having a Disney princess or favorite movie character visit the party. Social media is full of teen entrepreneurs that get paid to bring joy to kids while scoring some cake.
- Cleaning/detailing. Housekeeping and car detailing services are a huge market with a high demand for services. Materials, tools, and supplies are generally inexpensive to buy and word of mouth advertising through family and friends is a perfect way to get started.
- Tutoring. If you are a great student with an ability to teach others what you know and coach them through the process of learning for themselves, tutoring can be an amazing opportunity. Put up fliers around your school or post to social media in groups for your local area. Online resources may be available for student tutors but check for age barriers as some want adult tutors working with their students.
- Baking/Food service. Check local laws for food preparation and sales before starting this as some areas have very strict laws in place for how and where food can be prepped and the age of the preparer. Parents or guardians might be willing to help out, if needed!
- Coaching/refereeing sports games. Many leagues need coaches or referees for their teams and games and are willing to pay for this service. Sometimes games are in the same town you live in but other times there might be traveling involved which might mean getting a parent or guardian to drive you or see if you can ride with a team member.
The Role Your Parents Can Play In Helping You Become An Entrepreneur
Parents are great for bouncing ideas off of and helping find solutions to challenges that might come up on the journey.
Networking with adults that your parents know can help you define your target audience and possibly get some of your first clients to test your business idea out on! Ask them questions about different business ideas that you have been thinking about and see if they know anyone who might help you or could be in need of your service or product.
Legal entities or filing taxes are generally done by adults in most states, but please seek advice from licensed professionals to evaluate what is needed for your situation. A business lawyer can help form a business entity, and a CPA can answer specific tax questions.
Transportation to meet with clients or to pick up supplies can be helpful.
Parents can also evaluate situations for safety concerns to ensure that you are safe while building your business.
Initial funding for a business might need to be borrowed from a parent or earned through working odd jobs.
Steps to Becoming a Teen Entrepreneur
- Define what your business does and write a business plan. Think about what your business is solving and try to be as specific as possible in defining your niche.
- Determine what tools or resources you need to get started and how you will pay for them. Can you borrow tools when you first start out or do you need to buy them new to get started?
- Figure out where your business will operate from. An online business can be run from your bedroom with a laptop but pet sitting might require a designated area for your pet clients to keep them comfortable.
- Think about how much help you’ll need with operating your business and who you could hire on for additional help if you need it.
- How are you going to track clients and how will you accept payment from clients? Look into different resources that are available or create your own system.
- What hours will you operate and on what days of the week? How will you notify clients if you are going to be out of town on vacation or are going to be unavailable on certain days?
- Conduct research on your target market to determine what their needs are and how your company can meet those needs. Some businesses will do a soft launch to test out their services on a small scale or pass out surveys to potential customers to get their questions answered.
- Competitive analysis of other businesses working in your niche to see what products or services they offer at what prices can help set realistic goals for your business. Can you offer a higher quality service for a higher price or is there a way to offer a package for clients that buy multiple products in one order? What makes your business different from the competition?
- Marketing is key to any business’ success, regardless of what kind of business it is or where it is located. How are you going to get the word out to potential customers about your services and that you are open for business? If you are working in your local market, fliers and word of mouth could be a great option. Cold calling can be difficult at first but can be an effective tool. Email or social media marketing that is targeted at specific customers can help get customers engaged.
- Price your services or products after research has been completed on how much expenses and overhead will be for operation. How much money do you want to make per month after you’ve paid your expenses? What is your target?
- Determine what insurance, certifications, or licenses would be necessary for your business and how to get them. These are important because they can protect you from certain business risks that might come up and ensure that you are conducting business legally so you don’t run into trouble later.
- Form a business entity. Business owners are rewarded by the government for operating businesses and providing jobs so different entity structures offer different possible tax write offs. Consulting with a professional is key but will require some cost upfront.
- Plan for paying taxes on your income made from the business and make arrangements to pay taxes either quarterly or annually. The amount of taxes paid and when they are paid is determined by the type of business and the entity chosen.
- Barrier to entry: these are factors that determine how easy or difficult it can be to enter the market as a new business
- Networking: this is the practice of intentionally interacting with others to build connections
- Niche: specialized segment of the market in a product or service
- Authority: establishing yourself as an expert in your field
- Business entity: an organization created by individuals with the intent to conduct business, sell products, or provide services. Examples include: sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, C-Corp, and S-Corp.
Books and Resources About Teen Entrepreneurship
Here are just a few of our favorite books for teens about entrepreneurship.
Teen Entrepreneur Toolbox: The Small Business Guide for Teens by Anthony O’Neal. Former Ramsey Solutions personality and entrepreneur Anthony O’Neal provides honest advice from real teens on how to start a business and ideas to get started.
Strictly Business: How to Crush it as a Young Entrepreneur by Brendan Cox. Serial entrepreneur, Brendan Cox, started his first company at age 9 and has since started 10 total successful businesses while making him the most regarded in this age group.
Start it Up: The Complete Teen Business Guide by Kenryn Rankin. This is a guide aimed at helping teens turn hobbies into income-producing businesses while offering practical and easy-to-understand advice on how to get started from other teen entrepreneurs that have already started their journey.
How to Start Your Very Own Business by Julie Merberg and Sarah Parvis. Provides simple worksheets for learning how to calculate expenses, profits, and total costs while teaching how to save, invest, and start to earn money. Creative exercises are given that help get the creative juices flowing while developing solid business ideas in a clear way that is easy to understand.
Be a Young Entrepreneur by Adam Sutherland. Case studies of other teen entrepreneurs are shared to motivate children and teens on the path of business ownership with advice on how to write a clear mission statement and conduct effective market research for various business models.