The world has changed dramatically in the last two decades. As a result of technological advancements and fluctuations in the world market, entrepreneurship has become a much more feasible and appealing choice for many young people, including teenagers.
On shows like Shark Tank, we’ve seen kids pitch multimillion-dollar business ideas. More and more billion-dollar start-up CEOs are young people just out of high school. In this post, I’m going to give you small business ideas (for teens) in case you want to thrive outside of the norm.
This isn’t to say that these young entrepreneurial success stories aren’t rare, but there is a brighter spotlight on entrepreneurship among your people. Fortunately for teens, the initial barriers are smaller than ever, and the incentives are more significant.
This is also the reason why we’re seeing an increase in the number of students choosing entrepreneurial programs to study. They want to get that early business training. Hands-on entrepreneurial immersion is vital for kids who show an early passion for business. These kids gain real-life entrepreneurial knowledge and usually head successful companies eventually.
Why You Should Be A Teen Entrepreneur
If you’re a young person or a parent of a teen who’s considering whether or not your kid should start a business, I have to say that the advantages are endless. Entrepreneurship is a one-of-a-kind journey that empowers those who take it on. What makes the journey educational is that a kid might achieve instant success or encounter significant setbacks. Every path is unique.
Young people who try their hand at entrepreneurship develop a deep sense of self-confidence, critical problem-solving skills, and resourcefulness that will definitely come in handy.
They’ll use their initiative, ambition, desire to achieve, and dedication to see goals through completion. Eventually, they’ll be brave enough to promote their companies. This is where they can master skills like marketing and salesmanship.
Regardless of the direction they choose, they will gain a far broader skill set than their peers, as well as a profound knowledge of entrepreneurship. They can often look at the bigger picture and solve problems more efficiently than their contemporaries.
This unique perspective is what gives teens a significant advantage when it comes to higher education, careers, personal lives. It will essentially improve all the areas of their lives as they grow up.
Finally, being an entrepreneur allows you to live with flexibility. You can gain financial security rather than being dependent on superiors and a 9-5 schedule. All these reasons should be enough to inspire a young person to build a safety net for their future, considering varying career opportunities and the economy at large.
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Small Business Ideas (For Teens)
The most common misconceptions parents and kids have about forming a start-up revolve around finances and skills. Many teenagers want to start a business, but they feel they don’t have the necessary skills or funds to fuel their dream. Please remember that while there are businesses out there that took millions to start, there are also other companies that started from the bottom.
There are tons of business ideas a teen can implement right now with less than a few weeks’ worths of allowance. They can expand this specific business into a big, profitable enterprise. In most cases, a company’s success doesn’t hinge on the IQ of the owner or a huge capital.
Here are my top small business ideas for kids! See which one tickles your fancy.
Related Reading: Online Job Ideas For Teens
1. Start a Pet Business.
Many people will pay top dollar for you to take care of their pets. Pet sitting, walking, grooming, training, or starting a doggy daycare are all excellent and profitable opportunities for an enterprising animal-lover.
Best of all, none of these ideas require an initial investment. You don’t need expensive equipment to walk or look after a dog, for example. Yes, there are apps like Wag! and Rover, which make finding dog walkers and sitters as simple as pressing a button. But you have to admit that you’d have the edge over these apps because you’re a familiar face to your neighbors.
Sure, you could sign up for these apps and attempt to schedule walks and sitting sessions. However, you’d have a much better chance of making it big if you go door-to-door and personally promote your services to your friends and neighbors.
If you’re a teen who’s going to stay home for the summer, you could potentially multiply your earnings by bringing in several pets at once and starting a doggy daycare. Of course, you’d have to check with your parents and make sure they don’t mind a bunch of dogs hanging out at your house.
How To Pursue This Idea
Like I mentioned before, the best way to start your pet business is to go door-to-door in your neighborhood and content pet owners you already know. Sell your services as best as you can. You can tell your potential customers that your main selling point is the fact that you live close by. They’d feel much safer entrusting their pets to you rather than some stranger on an app.
After this approach, you should also build a profile on these apps, name your service, and advertise it through your social media channels. You can give free dog walks or $10-$20 off someone’s next pet sitting appointment and encourage people to refer you to other pet owners in their network.
When summer comes, tell your pet-sitting and walking clients about your doggy daycare and to book their pets before they go on holiday. You’d eliminate the need for another dog boarding business. To really sell your services, offer them at a marginally lower price compared to your big-time competitors.
2. Offer Gardening Services.
A gardening, landscaping, or lawn mowing business can be highly profitable for teens who don’t mind yard work and hard labor. Many people find tending to their gardens an inconvenience, so they would rather pay someone else to get the job done to save time and effort.
It’s really not all that unusual for families in well-kept communities to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month on businesses like these. Take advantage of this fact and offer the same services for less money. Save some homeowners thousands of dollars and keep their yard looking spic and span.
It’s easy to win over more customers because all your finished projects are essentially free advertising. This business could ensure a steady revenue stream if you put in the effort.
How To Pursue This Idea
Starting a gardening business isn’t that difficult, but you’ll need to make sure you have access to some essential equipment. Depending on what kind of work you’ll be doing, you might need a lawnmower, rake, gardening shears, and other similar tools.
Before you spend money on these tools, start by asking your parents if they have these tools available in your shed or garage. If they don’t, you can always borrow or rent them from a friendly neighbor. Of course, aside from the proper tools, you’ll also need clients.
Fortunately, finding clients is breezy if you live in a suburban neighborhood. Before you start going door-to-door and offering your services, you’ll have to do a bit of research. Find out which landscaping or gardening companies your neighbors use, compare their costs, and offer more attractive prices.
By giving enough discounts, you can get your neighbors to switch to your business instead. You can also offer a one-time trial discount followed by discounts for those who sign up for several weeks or months. Gardens and lawns always need tending to so you’ll never be out of business.
3. Sell Your Art.
A custom design business can be a fantastic and fun way to make money if your skills lie on the more artistic side. You’ll never know; you might just be the next big thing in the design world. What I love about custom design work is that you don’t have to create a product from scratch. Your job is to customize, and of course, sell.
People are willing to spend a lot of money on unique handcrafted and designed items. This business idea is perfect for those who are into crafting. You can sell virtually anything that you create: drawings, painting, knitting jobs, fashion sketches, needlepoint, jewelry, accessories, you name it!
People enjoy art that isn’t mass-produced, something that requires time, skill, and imagination. For that reason, you can charge a lot more for unique handcrafted items.
How To Pursue This Idea
I can think of some methods to start a custom design company, and you might want to use many at the same time. The first method is to open an Etsy shop which you can advertise through your social media account. You can also spread fliers and send out emails about your new business venture.
How do you grow an online business? I suggest you start with a few commissions from people that you already know to get the ball rolling. They can provide visual samples of your work and write reviews about how satisfied they are with your work.
Reviews are still a perfect way to boost your business if you’re looking to expand your clientele. For promotions, you can choose to sell unique holiday-themed products or offer limited-time discounts.
4. Sell Baked Treats.
If you have a flair for the culinary arts, you could sell your delectable creations for massive profit. It might be cool to combine your love of baking and animals by starting a homemade small-batch pet treat business too. Pet owners tend to spoil their fur babies, and freshly-baked treats might be precisely what they need.
There are many ways to sell your treats to pet wonders. You can deliver fresh, made-to-order batches, sell your treats online, get a local shop to feature your stuff, go door-to-door and offer samples, or get your own spot at the local farmer’s market.
But first, you need to do your homework! Make sure your dog treats contain safe, delicious, and nutritious ingredients. You don’t want people to come after you if you sell unhealthy treats.
How To Pursue This Idea
Starting with serious research and development is the best way to get a homemade pet treat company off the ground. You’ll want to look at the different types of pet treats available, come up with recipes and prep methods, and start experimenting yourself. Ideally, you’d want a pet at home to try out your goodies and see if they’re palatable.
Once you’ve figured out what works best, you can start marketing your business to the pet owners in your area. You should approach your first set of customers as a focus group. Ask them for feedback, whether or not their pets liked your treats. You should also ask if there’s anything you can change to make your product even better.
With enough feedback, you should be able to figure out if your treats can improve pets’ coats, temperament, and digestion. If so, then you’ve stumbled upon a winning recipe!
Finally, establish a solid social media presence and build an online shop to expand your business. If your company grows large enough, you may even need to recruit staff and outsource production.
You can earn good money through private tutoring, test prepping, or giving lessons. If you’re a kid with a natural proclivity for a particular subject or skill (like art or music), you can start a private tutoring business.
Let’s say you excel at a specific academic subject or subjects. You could offer to teach your classmates who are having a hard time with their studies. You could even offer test prep services if you breezed through your SATs or ACTs.
Did you know that parents spend thousands of dollars on SAT and ACT prep and tutoring? Since preparing for college is vital, folks are willing to pay someone to increase their kid’s chances of getting into their dream schools.
Whether you’re a gifted painter, singer, instrumentalist, actor, or crafter, you can monetize your skills by sharing them with others. You can teach private lessons and get paid handsomely by mentoring those who look up to you.
If you’re up to a challenge, you could also create an online course on a site like Udemy.
How To Pursue This Idea
Teaching as a business is fast and easy because it has virtually no start-up costs. Your target market is also readily available to you. You can post flyers around your school or in the proper classrooms of subjects you want to teach.
Telling your friends about your business and asking them to spread the word would be ideal too. You could offer friends a referral fee for helping you find clients.
Another way to advertise is to send emails to parents and ask your teachers to recommend you during PTA meetings and consultations. Your teachers can vouch for your expertise. As far as I know, teachers are always eager to pair failing students with excellent ones to help them raise their grades.
6. Social Media Marketing.
This wouldn’t be a good list if I didn’t include the opportunity for social media marketing and branding ventures. Because of today’s massive increase in social media engagement and the reality that the current generation has grown up with it, you shouldn’t pass up the chance to be enterprising.
A social media marketing or branding business can be profitable and not that difficult to pursue if you’re genuinely interested in the business model and have an appreciation for the marketing world. You need to be willing to take the time to study online marketing and implement what you learn.
Many small businesses don’t even know how to use social media. In effect, their companies are in need of a modern rebranding to attract customers online. Their solution is to hire young people who are most familiar with social media to help optimize and update their marketing strategies.
How To Pursue This Idea
There are more accessible points of entry as a teen to enter the world of social media marketing and branding business. Despite the growing competition out there, you should have a leg up on others because of your familiarity with social media.
Going in person and offering your services to small business owners is an excellent way to gain favor with them. These company owners may not be tech-savvy enough to even look for social media marketing services on the internet, so you may have to fill them in on what their business is lacking.
To entice them to hire you, it would help if you showed them what you could do for their business by improving their web presence, increasing their exposure, adding more revenue streams, and tapping into a younger market through social media.
You can offer them a month’s free trial and then sell them a multi-month retainer discount after that. This way, you can generate recurring payments as you see through your marketing campaign for the next couple of months. Of course, they will likely want your assistance throughout the process.
Starting A Business As A Teen
It can never be too early to start a business as a young person. The sooner you begin, the more opportunities you’ll have for growth. If you don’t know where to start, I suggest that you zero in on a topic or industry that genuinely interests you. Make sure that your passion for it is sincere, and don’t think about it in terms of financial potential yet.
Once you get a clearer idea of which idea you want to pursue, try to learn as much as you can about your target market. Make use of the resources that you have right now and ask your family and friends who fit into that market.
To run the best business that you can, you have to thoroughly understand what your clients like and don’t like. What’s a good place to start? Look to your competition for inspiration. Study their business models and see if you can do anything to improve upon them. Your goal should be to provide services that are cheaper, more convenient, and more valuable to your future customers.
Start thinking early on about expanding your business too. Continually assess and refine your current business model and consult the reviews that you get. I, for one, value a review more than thousands of dollars spent on marketing because it’s organic.
If you’re having trouble getting reviews, you may have to give away free products to give people the incentive to leave their opinions. Trust me; excellent reviews are worth their weight in gold.
The Serious Stuff
Being an entrepreneur at a young age is fun and rewarding. However, there are specific guidelines to follow, so you stay on the right side of the law and protect the money you earn. For example, let’s say you sell food products or other consumables. You need all the proper licenses and permits in your state. You also have to be strict about following health regulations.
Remember, you need to pay the required fees and obtain proper licenses if you decide to set up shop on someone else’s property or at a public market.
Once the money starts pouring in, you need to prepare to file taxes. A few hundred dollars in, you have to be incorporated. Don’t be intimidated because this process is pretty straightforward. You can go online and pay the applicable fees to legitimize your business.
Of course, you’ll want to do your research first and select the proper entity type for the business that you’re running. As I said, this is not going to be a daunting task. Luckily for regular folk like you and me, there are sites like incorporate.com and LegalZoom that make this process breezy. You don’t have to have a legal team just yet!
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Automation is making jobs obsolete left and right. One of the smartest things you can do to secure your future is to be a teen entrepreneur. For parents, encourage your kiddos to be in business. Entrepreneurship teaches kids to be independent and gain the confidence to thrive and not just survive their future.
Kids get to trudge their own paths instead of going through the conventional methods of making a living. As early as now, teach them to be their own boss and not rely on anyone else for their success.
To the young people out there who are motivated enough to take the initiative and start earning money as early as now, good on you! I hope the business ideas I listed above give you a solid starting point for your career as an entrepreneur.