Business landscapes have changed dramatically since the turn of the century, and the generational shift in mindsets is very hard to ignore. People now appreciate that there are many opportunities outside of the traditional nine-to-five. About two-thirds of teenagers now state that they have intentions to start a company in later life. There’s also an increasing number of budding teen entrepreneurs.
It’s the oldest cliche in the book, but if you’re good enough at something, you’re old enough. So, if you’re looking for teen business ideas, read on, as this guide will discuss the most inventive concepts along with the process of launching your venture.
Why Starting as a Young Entrepreneur Makes Sense
Finding ways to earn money as a teen isn’t anything new, and there are plenty of options ranging from delivering papers to flipping burgers. While they remain great options for many teenagers across the nation, there’s nothing wrong with wanting more.
Building your own company will require a lot of work. Nevertheless, there are many reasons to consider starting a teenage business:
- Break free from the financial restrictions of working for minimum wage, which is set by the Fair Labor Standards Act to be as low as $4.25 per hour. Many teen entrepreneurs earn more than their friends in traditional employment, while a small percentage can become millionaires before they’ve even graduated high school.
- Owning a business offers young entrepreneurs a chance to take control of their life. This means working on something they’re passionate about while also setting a work schedule around schoolwork and other commitments. Better still, there is no threat of being treated poorly by an employer.
- It’s a chance to develop key business skills and gain experience. Even if the venture only lasts for a few years, the lessons learned are the perfect preparation for university, business school, or starting a business in later life.
- Starting a business teaches you to be resilient and look for logical solutions to an array of challenges. This can give you a head start at a time when many members of the younger generation lack face-to-face communication skills.
- As a teen, you have fewer financial commitments than adult entrepreneurs, which means you have time to help your business grow organically. This will instantly give any strong business concept a better chance of success because it’s a far less stressful environment to enter. You’ll also be able to invest your profits back into the firm.
The thought of running a business and learning how to monetize a hobby carries a lot of appeal for the immediate future while it could be a chance to build a lifelong career in the process.
What Makes a Good Business To Start for Teens?
If you’ve weighed up the pros and cons of starting a business if you’re a teen and decided it’s the way to go, your next step would be to determine what you want from a venture. A quick look at some of the best teen entrepreneurs highlights the fact that success can take many forms.
Ultimately, all business owners must find their own pathway. Still, some elements are common to top business ideas for kids and teenagers:
- Small initial investment: Low-cost financial investment opportunities are essential because most teens have very limited capital and would struggle to seek loans outside of mom and dad. Finding a venture with zero or minimal outlay helps combat this problem.
- Work from home: At-home business ideas for teens are highly popular because working from home takes the financial costs and logistical issues of finding commercial spaces out of the equation. It also buys you more time as there will be no pressure to start turning a profit right away. The fact you won’t need to commute is a plus, too.
- A project you’re passionate about: A fun and engaging business idea that allows you to work on something you love. Aside from making it more enjoyable, your passion will shine through to impress future clients and customers.
- A business idea that can make a difference: In general, younger generations care about sustainability and social responsibility. If these things matter to you, too, don’t be afraid to make them the core values of your business. If you care, audiences will too.
- Flexibility: The venture will likely start as a side hustle that fits around your other commitments. There are times when you may need to focus on school and can only dedicate a small portion of time to the business. At other times, you may have greater availability. A venture that supports this is vital.
Ultimately, a good business venture for teenagers is one that’s enjoyable, versatile, and offers a fair shot at success.
The Top 13 Small Business Ideas for Teens
Now that you know what to look for in small business ideas for teens, the big challenge is to find one that suits your personality, availability, and circumstances. Whether you’re 13 or 19, you’ll find the perfect business to start as a teenager by checking out the best options below.
1. Selling Art
If you like drawing and have been searching for answers on how to monetize your hobby, selling artwork is one of the best online business ideas for teens you should consider.
People buy artwork for gifts, home decor, and a range of other purposes. Over 2.5 million sellers use Etsy to earn money, and more than 60% of them are US-based. If they can do it, then so can you, especially if you have an eye for detail and the ability to create great products. Some of the most popular products are:
- Stickers, notebooks, and stationery
- Graphic designs, including personalized art
- Paintings and prints for home decor
Everybody has a talent. If yours is something other people aspire to possess, there’s a good chance you could start a side business as a tutor. Tutoring for teens can mean anything from helping other students with their math homework to teaching people how to play an instrument.
Speaking of musical instruments, did you know that guitar tutors can charge up to $60 per hour? Even if you command half of that fee, you’ll only need a small number of clients to earn more money than you’d ever hope to earn from working in the local 7-11. You could also look to utilize your skill through the following ideas:
- Making use of your second language by teaching others online or offline
- Helping older citizens learn how to use modern tech like Facetime
- Teaching gamers how to master a particular title
The options are virtually endless, meaning you can choose a small side hustle or look for something that could become a legitimate long-term business model.
3. Photography Services
Many business ideas for teens encourage you to showcase your creativity, many of which can focus on selling a service rather than a product. Photography is a fantastic solution, although you’ll need to invest in a DSLR camera and accessories.
Still, each job is a chance to perfect your craft, refine your style, and determine which part of photography you’d like to enter long-term. It’ll also look great on college applications for either business school or photography school. Some of the most popular events that you may be able to cover are:
- Sporting events – especially at college, amateur, or semi-pro levels
- Family celebrations – graduations, communions, and birthday parties
- Business photography – staff profile shots and photos for company sites
As you grow your portfolio, you may also gain the opportunity to work on-spec for local news or media outlets.
4. Blogger, Vlogger, or Podcaster Services
When thinking about the most successful teen entrepreneurs, especially well-known ones, the first thing that comes to mind is the world of digital media. For over a decade now, platforms like YouTube have provided content creators an outlet to make money through ads.
Teen blogging, vlogging, and podcasting can deliver huge returns. Anybody can upload to YouTube, Spotify, or their own websites. It’s the perfect way to make your voice heard and discuss the issues that matter most to you. Monetizing your hobby is possible via:
- Sponsored content
- Offering paid content to your most loyal fans
The internet has changed how we consume media, and authenticity is now king. If you can provide it, content creation is a low-cost and low-risk venture.
5. Utilizing Social Media
If you’re anything like an average teenager, you’re already putting plenty of content online without realizing it. Likewise, you’re interacting with friends and online acquaintances through social media. If you’ve built a fan base, it could be your ticket to good earning potential.
According to some estimations, 270 million TikTok views per year could earn you $100,000. Influencers can also make money through Instagram and other social media channels. Moreover, you don’t have to grow an audience of millions. If your fanbase is from a distinct niche and shows good engagement levels, you can make money through:
- Getting paid to collaborate with brands
- Affiliate marketing where you promote products your audience will love
- Donations and gifts
Older generations may find it hard to believe that you can make money online simply by building an audience, but you can. Don’t be afraid to try.
6. Playing Music
Pop music has produced teen superstars for generations. Meanwhile, digital channels helped Justin Bieber get signed back in the day while the likes of Britney Spears, Iggy Azalea, and Billie Eilish all hit the big time as teens.
It’s not only pop music where teens and young adults can achieve success. And you don’t have to hit the mainstream for playing music to become your perfect teen job. Even as a newbie, a talented wedding singer can get paid a good fee. You can also earn money as a musician by:
- Playing the local gig scene or getting festival slots
- Selling your music on CDs
- Playing at school graduations and other events
It’s a great way to turn a hobby into a money-making endeavor while starting a band is the perfect outlet to hang out with your pals – besides, who knows where the journey will end.
7. Car Washing
It’s likely that you’ve washed your mom or dad’s car for some extra money at least once in your childhood. As far as small, local business ideas for teens are concerned, it’s one of the easiest to get started.
There are over 287 million vehicles in America, and thousands of them are within a three-mile radius of your home. The majority of drivers want to keep their car sparkling but don’t have the time. You can be the person to take care of this for them. Some of the benefits include:
- The costs are minimal (sponge, water, shammy, car cleaning materials), while you can even find free marketing through social media and word of mouth.
- You can arrange to visit a client at a time that suits you or even look for business in the local area when you have a few hours to kill.
- There is no need for a commercial setting, employees (although you could team up with a friend), or major business planning.
It may subsequently open the door to starting a valet service or opening an office-cleaning business. Cleaning services will always be needed, making it a very stable business option.
8. Pet Care
Approximately 68% of households in the US have at least one pet. So, if you start the business correctly, you won’t be short of customers.
The pet care business could mean grooming dogs and cutting their nails. Or it could mean pet-sitting for cats when a family is away on vacation. Dog walking is another popular option because you get to spend time with furry friends and stay active. Pet care businesses are a good choice because:
- There is minimal outlay. In fact, it’s often completely free to get started.
- Once you have your client base, it’s regular work that you can fit into your schedule.
- If you don’t have a pet, this is the perfect backup.
You can start this business by working for family friends before moving up to local customers when you are confident.
9. Open a Franchise
Franchising may not seem like an accomplishable dream for a teen business. However, there are affordable franchises for under $10k. You may need to rely on your parents to help fund this option, but if you can commit yourself to the work, it can be profitable.
Opening a franchise can introduce you to running a business without the need to build a brand and help you gain experience managing a small team. You can set opening times to suit your needs, even if it’s only during the summer vacation, and if things go well, it may be possible to open a second franchise or get a friend involved.
10. Handyperson Servicing
OK, so you don’t have a plumbing license or the qualifications to work as an electrician. Still, there are plenty of jobs around the home that people need help with or don’t have time for. They can be some of the best teen business ideas of all.
Jobs for 15-year-olds can include fixing flat-pack furniture, handling basic landscaping duties, and cleaning a person’s property. You can even extend the work to completing daily errands for people with reduced mobility or a lack of time. There are many advantages of this type of work, such as:
- Each job can be different – one day, you’re mowing a lawn, the next, you’re making a cupboard
- There are early growth opportunities: For example, you can hire a friend to take on the jobs you can’t complete for a small cut
- The earning potential is a lot higher than the traditional jobs teenagers take on, like store assistants.
If you feel that becoming a tradesperson is your future, this will be the perfect start before moving on to professional training in your desired field.
11. Online Retail
Starting an online store is one of the best online business ideas for teens because the potential exposure is relatively low. Thanks to the growth of the global dropshipping sector, you no longer have to possess stock. Instead, you can promote and sell products on your web store before the order fulfillment company delivers them. Alternatively, you could look at print-on-demand services to sell a host of products like:
- Fashion (especially t-shirts) and accessories
- Phone cases, mugs, and small household items
- Greetings cards, photo books, and personal goods
Dipping your toes into the retail sector in this manner requires minimal spending, and it could unlock a lifetime of success in business.
12. Creating Products
When looking for cute business ideas, crafts for teens are an ideal outlet. Creating and selling products is an opportunity to learn how to run a business in a fun and engaging way. This type of venture will also make you learn about invoices and other business tools and documents.
Take advantage of the fact that people want various beauty products or fashion items to revamp their personal appearance. Aside from outlets like Etsy, your products could be sold locally at:
- A pop-up store that you run for a day or two
- Market stalls, trade show events, and other outlets
- By attending schools, businesses, or other relevant venues
There are many examples of young adults who created products from their homes to become major brands. You could be the next GymShark in your chosen niche.
13. Web Designing
Small business ideas for teenagers don’t have to be that different from what adults provide. If you can design a great product or service, there will be opportunities to turn your talent into cash, regardless of your age. Web design services certainly fall into this category.
According to the latest small business statistics, there are more than 32.5 million businesses in the US alone, and virtually all of them need a website. Whether it’s starting a website from scratch or revamping an outdated one, you can help. Major marketing firms charge thousands, so this is an opportunity for you to win clients by charging less. Your services may include:
- Designing responsive websites for WordPress and other popular CRMs
- Creating websites from scratch using Dreamweaver or other software tools
- Designing social media page layouts and integrations
It’s one of the best business ideas for students, especially those studying web design or marketing. Once you have your qualifications and portfolio, your earning potential will soar.
Teen Business Tips To Help You Get Started
Whichever business model you think might be best for you, it’s vital that you think it through and launch it correctly. Many of the digital-based options can start out as hobbies and won’t need business plans or registrations until you start earning a reasonable amount of money. However, you should still record all transactions.
Some of the best business ideas for teens do require you to register the business. You’ll probably launch a sole proprietorship, although you could need an LLC for ideas like a franchise. Other issues to consider are:
- Whether you need an employer identification number to pay employees
- Whether you need a small checking account to facilitate business transactions
- Any insurance coverages you may require, especially public liability
If you’re unsure about how to start the company, speak to an advisor. They’ll point you in the right direction.
By now, you should be equipped with a range of businesses to start as a teenager and will have thought about the right solution for you as well as how to launch it. There will still be a lot of work ahead, from defining your target audience to finding the right bank for your business. Still, if you enter the process with a winning mindset, you’ll enjoy the ride and learn a lot.
Besides, it has to be more fun than working a job you hate for $4.25.