According to sources, 69% of teenagers have a business idea but aren’t sure where to begin. Not knowing how to start a business as a teenager is one of the biggest hurdles many young prospective business owners face.
If you’re a teen interested in starting a small business, but aren’t sure how to go about it, you’re in luck. There are many small business ideas for teens to try out.
Some of the best business ideas for teens are those that require little financial investment at the start and focus primarily on building your skills and brand. In this article, you’ll learn how to start a business as a teenager and some tips for success.
1. Lawn Care Service
If you’re handy with a lawnmower, you could start out with a small lawn care service by offering to mow your neighbors’ yards. You don’t have to stop there, though. You could also expand into general lawn care such as pruning, gardening, weed-eating, and more. And, if you have an interest in landscaping, you could offer that as well.
This is a good business idea for older teens, particularly those who can drive and can transport their tools and equipment from place to place. The initial startup cost doesn’t have to be that high either. All you’ll need is some basic equipment – like a standing or riding lawn mower and some gardening tools.
It helps if you live in a residential neighborhood. But even if you don’t, you can still drive out to other areas and offer your business there. As with any other small business idea, you’ll need to promote your services through in-person and online networking and marketing.
2. Art Design and Crafting Company
If you’re a teen who’s passionate about making different art pieces or crafting, you could start a small art design and crafting company. You can set one up online through a site like Etsy or on your own website.
Startup costs are usually minimal, but you will need enough money to support your website (if you’re hosting your own). You’ll also need to consider the cost of the art medium and any related supplies like paint, yarn, canvases, graphic design software, etc.
Some platforms do have certain age requirements. For example, you’ll need to be at least 13 years old to have an Etsy shop and have permission from a legal guardian or parent.
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3. Content Creation
When it comes to content creation, there’s virtually no end to the possibilities. You could create videos and upload them to YouTube. Or you could become a streamer on a platform like Twitch. Alternatively, you could host a podcast on a topic you’re passionate about. You could even do this with a friend who’s also interested in starting a business.
As a content creator, you’ll need to build an audience. This can require a lot of time and commitment, but it can also be lucrative if you’re persistent.
The good news is that there aren’t many overhead costs. If you plan to record videos or audio, you will need a good quality microphone and camera. You might also need the appropriate recording and editing software.
Choose your niche carefully, as well as the platform, before starting. Once you have a decent-sized audience, you can always expand.
4. Blog Owner
As of 2020, there were nearly 32 million bloggers in the United States alone. Not only that, but the average amount of monthly views is over 20 billion. Blogging and content marketing is worth an estimated $412.88 billion. All of that’s to say that blogging is a potentially highly profitable business idea for teens to start.
Becoming a successful blogger can take months or even years, but it’s doable. You can also choose any niche you’re interested in – from writing about traveling to business to marketing.
You don’t need much money to get started – just a website and potentially an SEO tool like Clearscope or SEMrush. But you’ll need to be persistent to be successful. The more you blog, the more you’ll find your voice and be able to build your audience.
5. Cleaning Service
Do you consider yourself a tidy person with an eye for detail? If so, you might want to consider starting a small cleaning business. You can advertise your services online or through physical advertisements that you post around the city. You can also promote yourself through social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram.
Cleaning services don’t have to be limited to residential homes either. For instance, you could clean vehicles – the interior and exterior both. You could also start cleaning commercial buildings, though you might need adult supervision for that.
The overhead can vary based on the cleaning supplies you’re using, any marketing costs, and the cost of travel.
6. Pet Care Company
If you love animals – birds, cats, dogs, fish – you could start up your own pet care business. Around 90.5 million U.S. households own at least one pet. There’s always a need for pet sitting, grooming, taking pets to vet appointments, administering medication, and so forth.
You could start out on a platform like Rover where you can offer different pet services locally. Check out what other people are charging in your area for the same thing and try to match them. You will need to be at least 18 years old or ask an adult to help you out with the account. Alternatively, you could print out flyers, meet up in social areas, or go door-to-door offering your services.
The cost of this small business idea isn’t very high, but you’ll need a reliable vehicle. You’ll also need to consider the cost of gas, especially if you’re planning on traveling further out from your neighborhood.
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7. Errand Running Business
Many people need help running errands. This could be because they’re too busy to do it themselves, or because they have trouble getting out and about. Whatever the reason, you could make a lucrative business by offering to do it for them.
To get started, you’ll need to do a bit of marketing on social media or in person. You might also want to build up a network on LinkedIn or another online platform where you promote your services.
Figuring out what to charge can be tricky, especially if you’re just starting out. Consider what types of errands you’re running and see what others are charging in the industry. According to HomeAdvisor, most people charge anywhere from $30 to $100 an hour to run errands.
8. Video Editing Service
Whether you want to record videos for your own brand or help others with theirs, you’ll need video editing experience. This means being up to date with the current video editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, and Final Cut Pro X. If you don’t currently have a lot of skills in this area, you can learn them for free through a site like Udemy or YouTube.
The startup costs of this business idea are generally low, but you will need to pay for the video editing software. You can also host your services on different platforms, such as Fiverr, for free. Or you can launch your own website and build a portfolio and brand there.
9. Website Design Agency
Millions of businesses have a website. And roughly 65.2% of all websites that use a content management system (CMS) use WordPress. Other common options are Shopify, Squarespace, Wix, and Joomla.
Having a user-friendly, attractive website can really help businesses looking to promote themselves and grow. But building a website is time-consuming and requires some technical aptitude.
That’s where you come in with a small website design business. With the right skills, you can help businesses reach their intended audiences while making money. And, if you’re a bit behind on the technical aspect of things, start by learning coding languages like C, HTML, and Java.
10. Tutoring Company
As a tutor, you could teach anyone of any age any topic. This includes things like music, languages, mathematics, science, art, website design, and more.
When starting out, you won’t need much money. You’ll just need reliable transportation and the relevant skills or know-how. However, it helps to have a platform on which to market yourself, like local community pages on social media or on online tutoring platforms.
11. Photography Agency
Another business idea for teens who are also photographers is to start a photography agency. You can market this line of work either online or locally.
The startup costs can be high if you don’t already have the right equipment. But if you already have the right lenses, a tripod and, of course, the camera, you can get started without having to spend much extra money.
To become successful and promote yourself, you’ll need a good portfolio. It also helps to niche down. For example, you could primarily do events like weddings. Or you could do landscape photography. Whatever the case, stick with it and you’ll start garnering attention, which will help you grow.
12. Programming Service
As a programmer, you can create your own videos games or apps. Or you could develop code for websites. Whatever you’re passionate about, there’s always a need for people with programming skills.
Coding typically requires a lot of time to learn, especially since there are so many different languages and programs out there. The good news is that there are numerous free or low-cost tools, courses, and guides online to help you learn. For example, if you’re interested in developing games, you could use a game engine like Unity.
13. Social Media Marketing
Social media is everywhere, and many large and mid-sized businesses are looking for people who are experts in the field. What’s great about this small business idea for teens is that it isn’t exactly age-dependent either.
You simply need good skills, a solid online presence, and some persistence. You will need to market yourself and network, so be prepared to communicate a lot with potential businesses.
14. Chef or Baker
One of the best businesses for teenagers, especially older ones, is to become a chef or baker. You don’t need a formal degree to do this, but you might need the proper licenses or certificates (like a ServSafe Certificate) to get started. You’ll also need some know-how when it comes to preparing different types of food.
What’s great about this business idea is that you can focus on any type of food you want. It’s also possible to promote your services through an online platform like Instagram or YouTube, or by bringing your goods to local events.
If you’re not quite ready to get the appropriate licenses or equipment, you could start up a YouTube channel and teach others about cooking instead.
15. Online Store Owner
In the United States, eCommerce sales totaled $265.9 billion last year. While this does include the big businesses, it also includes smaller shops. That’s where you come in.
By starting up your own small virtual shop, you could start making money online. You can sell nearly anything you’d like, such as goods you make yourself, second-hand or vintage items, and collectibles.
Some platforms, like Etsy, might require you to have a parent or legal guardian on the account. But they can play a more passive role until you’re of age to become the sole store owner.
16. Tech Support Agency
Many people need help understanding how modern technology works, especially when it comes to more complex software or equipment. But if you have some technical know-how, you could use your skills to teach others about it for a fee.
One of the main drawbacks to this business idea for teens is knowing just how to market it, and to whom. You can start by asking locally if anyone needs help or putting out flyers. Alternatively, you could create a social media account on Facebook or another site and market yourself there.
17. Event Planning Agency
As an event planner, you get to organize events like weddings, business meetings, birthday parties, and special ceremonies. Some event planners also end up launching different products or an online course about how to get started in the industry.
While some people obtain a formal education or certificate before becoming an event planner, this isn’t strictly necessary. You might need to network on a professional site like LinkedIn and offer your services there to your connections. You can also get practical experience by organizing smaller events like family get-togethers.
18. Graphic Design Business
Businesses large and small thrive on brand recognition. And part of this is the graphics they display that are connected to their company. This could be things like the logo, general website design, and typography.
If you love graphic design, in whatever form, you could start freelancing as a graphic designer. As you build up your portfolio and connections, you can launch a small business as well.
You’ll need to get some graphic design software, such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. You might also need to host your own website, though you could use Fiverr or a similar platform to offer your services.
19. Childcare Business
For older teens who love working with children, a childcare business could be a great option. The pay varies but is usually hourly or based on how many children you’re taking care of at once.
You can get started through babysitting neighbors’ kids or driving children to and from different places like school or after-school events. From there, you can grow your business through word-of-mouth recommendations or social media.
In terms of future growth, you could get a college degree in Early Childhood Education or a similar field to expand your skill set.
20. Freelancing Business
Around 36% of the U.S. workforce are freelancers (at least part-time). As a freelancer, you can do anything from writing/editing to graphic design to tutoring. You could also become a freelancing virtual assistance.
Whatever you’re passionate about, you could make a decent amount of money on the side by doing it. And, as you build up your client base and portfolio, you could even expand into a full-on business.
Freelancing is one of the best businesses for teenagers since it allows for a lot of flexibility with minimal upfront costs. The biggest hurdle is finding clients to work with.
21. Online Course Creator
If you have a specific skill you’re passionate about and extremely knowledgeable about, you could create an online course (or two). Online courses exist for nearly every topic imaginable, from art and music to technical or financial topics.
Course creators charge anywhere from a few dollars to thousands of dollars per person buying their course. You can use a platform like Teachable.com to host your course, or create a website of your own. If you do use a platform, they might take a cut of your profits, so keep that in mind.
22. Music Business
Do you love to sing or are you skilled in any specific instruments? If so, you could market yourself as a musician and teach others what you know. Or you could play at local venues or events for money. You could also share your music on sites like Spotify or YouTube.
How to start a Small Business as a Teen
If you're starting a business as a teenager, here are some things to consider:
- Legal considerations: What kinds of licenses or permits does your business require? For example, if you’re handling food, you might need a food-related certificate or permit. Along with this, some states don’t allow people under the age of 18 to legally form a business. Instead, you might have to put the business under your parent’s or legal guardian’s name. This could cause tax implications if payments are going to them rather than to you. Every state is different in their business regulations, so check what rules yours has.
- Tax implications: If you make significant income from your business, even if you’re under 18, you’ll probably have to pay taxes on it. The exact income amount, your filing status, and the type of business can impact how much you spend in income taxes.
- Type of business: It’s important to determine what type of business you’re starting. Is it an LLC or a sole proprietorship? Figuring this out can help when it comes time to file taxes as well.
- Startup costs and funding: What types of startup costs are you looking at? Many of these business ideas for teens don’t come with much overhead, but some do. Do you have money from a part-time job to help with costs? Can you get a grant, business loan, personal loan, or crowdfunded loan to help with costs?
- Business plan: Before asking for funding, come up with a business plan describing what your business is, your goals for expansion, marketing plan, funding needs, and so on. Doing this can help you understand exactly what you’re doing and keep motivated to succeed.
You don’t have to be an adult to start a business, but you might have to start small. The good news is that if you do this early, you could potentially have something very profitable for when you’re out of school.
There are so many small business ideas for teens, so start by narrowing it down to what you’re passionate about and what you know. From there, set some personal and financial goals for yourself and the business. You can also create a business plan to help you figure this out and to keep you on track as you grow your new venture.