11 Business Ideas for Teens


With a little creativity and ambition, teenagers can find themselves becoming successful entrepreneurs, too. — Getty Images/monkeybusinessimages

Empowered with confidence, equipped with technological prowess and motivated by a sense of fiscal and social responsibility, more teens are starting their own businesses today than ever before. Currently, eight out of every 10 teens express a desire to work for themselves.

In real life and on social media, there is a proliferation of successful teen bosses who are influencing their peers to create and contribute in ways that reflect their strengths and personal interests. It’s an exciting prospect. And also a daunting one. Knowing what you’re good at, having a willingness to nurture your talents and skills and setting simple, actionable goals and expectations are good places to start.

Teen minds are the perfect arbiters of what’s trending and new—natural innovators—and they really just need the tools and experiences to cultivate the seeds to grow them. Regardless of size, scope or duration, teen-led businesses are a great way to have fun, build character (and some cash flow) and establish a resume. You’ll learn life skills such as interpersonal communication and life lessons like conflict resolution.

So if you’re ready to parlay what you’re good at with what you love to do and get the word out to those who need to hear it, these 11 small business ideas can help to guide and inspire you.

Tutor/coach

If you’re a standout in science class or a free-throw dynamo on the basketball court, you can very likely monetize your exceptional abilities by tutoring or coaching younger students or aspiring athletes.

According to a recent report from researchandmarkets.com, private tutoring is expected to grow at an annual rate of over 8% and reach $218 billion by the end of 2027. One-on-one or small group tutors and coaches can build very lucrative small businesses in areas that are always in demand. There will always be students who need ongoing help or intensive study sessions before a big exam and young athletes who want to train with someone in anticipation of team tryouts, improve their skills or just get outside for some fun physical fitness in a safe, socially distanced way.

The key is to focus on the age groups you feel most comfortable with in the subjects or sports you both truly excel at and enjoy enough to teach with passion, patience and enthusiasm. Then you’ll need to spread the word. Post in neighborhood groups on social media and try reconnecting with teachers, coaches and counselors you had in elementary or middle school who would be willing to recommend you.

Check with payscale.com for the going rates for private tutoring and, to make yourself even more marketable as a tutor, consider getting certified through the National Tutoring Association.

Babysitter

For those who like working with younger kids, a babysitting service could be a great small business option. Due to COVID, there is a greater need among working parents for good, safe and reliable childcare options and, post-COVID, many parents will be calling on sitters for much-needed nights out. The good news: Having been a child yourself, you actually come with some built-in experience. And chances are you’re familiar with the qualities that make a good babysitter, hopefully having had a great sitter as a child to draw inspiration from.

However, for parents to really feel comfortable entrusting their little ones to you, there are several important and practical things you’ll need to know about childcare and safety. For a relatively small cost, The American Red Cross offers basic and advanced babysitting classes, as well as classes that teach infant and child CPR and first aid.

For today’s well-prepared sitters, hourly rates are typically more lucrative than minimum wage jobs; however, pay rates vary by city and state. Care.com has published a guide to the average hourly rates by zip code to calculate what you can realistically charge in your area.

Makeup artist

With the endless stream of fun and mesmerizing video tutorials available online, makeup how-tos have become an obsession-turned-art-form. If you’re among the many who are hooked, honing some serious skills and hoarding primers, powders and palettes, you may want to consider starting your own makeup application business. From kids’ birthday parties to Sweet 16s, proms, local fashion shows and theater productions, there is typically no shortage of special occasions and attendees who want to look extra special for them.

While we wait for the post-pandemic party season to arrive, practice on yourself and on willing family members, keep watching those tutorials (and start posting your own on social media) and look for sales and special offers so you can stock up on makeup artist essentials (think disposable applicators and other health- and safety-conscious alternatives).

In terms of how much to charge, careerexplorer.com suggests that the median hourly rate for beginner and junior-level makeup artists in the United States ranges from $10.25 to just under $18 an hour. For an after-school side hustle without certification or formal training, try calling local salons to see how much a professional makeup application costs and then set your price, accounting for your age and experience accordingly.

Etsy seller

If making crafts is your thing, online marketplaces like Etsy are great places to showcase and sell your personally made, one-of-a-kind and custom creations. From shoppers to collectors, everyone likes to discover something new, different and with a wow factor. And by “everyone,” we mean the over 44.2 million current customers on Etsy, as estimated by Statista.

Among the top-selling categories are crafts and craft supplies, as well as handmade items like invitations, jewelry, accessories, clothing, stickers and digital prints. It’s easy to set up your own store; however, accounts of minors have to be managed by their parents. At 20 cents a listing, it’s relatively inexpensive to get up and running. Among the keys to success beyond your creativity are really strong keywords, product descriptions and photography.

First, you need to know your local competition and carve out a niche that sets you apart…

Dog walker

Adoptions and sales of dogs during COVID have soared. Furry companions have been an antidote to isolation and anxiety. As a result, the need for pet care and pet services are sharply on the rise.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, animal caretakers are expected to see a 22%growth in employment between 2019 and 2029. If you love dogs and count reliability (in any weather), compassion and patience among your best attributes, starting a dog-walking business could be a great option to consider.

There is virtually no overhead involved; however, you’ll need all-weather clothing, reflective wear (if offering evening walks) and, of course, lots of waste bags.

For more information on licensing requirements, insurance and other considerations, check out this guide for aspiring dog walkers from legalzoom.com.

Small-batch baker

Everyone loves to give and receive delicious baked-from-scratch confections of all kinds. From Instagram to TikTok, cake pops to hot chocolate bombs, cool sweets are always trending, and tantalizing taste buds is a great moneymaker. If you love to bake, this can be a fun and rewarding path for you.

First, you need to know your local competition and carve out a niche that sets you apart, whether it be a focus on allergy-friendly muffins or themed birthday cakes. You will also need to purchase equipment that is dedicated solely for business use. Give out samples to friends and neighbors to build word-of-mouth and market yourself online and on social media.

There are many considerations and regulations that come along with food businesses and, depending on your state, you may be required to rent space at a nearby approved commercial kitchen. These requirements are detailed in this information-packed guide.

Social media influencer

According to Common Sense Media, the average teen spends nine hours a day on social media. If this sounds like you, imagine making money and having the ability to tell your parents you’re being productive while in front of that screen.

More and more brands are relying on influencers to help market their products to the right audience. Building trust through authenticity and engaging content is key, but you may be surprised to know that having millions of followers is not. You can be a nano-influencer or micro-influencer and be very valuable to companies if you have loyal and engaged followers.

All the insights you want to know about this booming industry, ripe for teen entrepreneurs, can be found in Morning Consult’s Influencer Report.

Print-on-demand T-shirt designer

T-shirts aren’t just one of the staple clothing items of the pandemic; they are statement makers that reflect our interests, personality, travels and values. They are also big business and only growing, with forecasts of category sales worldwide to surpass sales of nearly $7 billion by 2027 according to Grandview Research.

To get started, you’ll need to decide on your audience, niche and types of graphics (i.e., inspirational or funny quotes) and get designing. Or you can source designs by tapping into online graphics marketplaces. Shopify breaks it all down with great ideas and resources.

Errand runner

It’s always the little things that people can’t seem to get to these days. Between working from home and helping kids with learning from home, parents’ multi-tasking skills are maxed out. Add to that the limited access to essentials that the elderly and vulnerable have during COVID.

If you want to earn money while doing good, and you have a driver’s license and access to a car, consider starting a business running errands for others. You can limit it to grocery and pharmacy runs or expand services to include the post office, restaurant takeout and gift shopping.

You can build a clientele by creating flyers and posting copies on social media as well as on community bulletin boards around town. You can also use platforms including Task Rabbit to manage communications and transactions in a contactless way. However,when setting your rates, make sure to account for the fees these platforms charge you to utilize their sites.

Online fashion reseller

According to IBIS World, the resale industry is expected to reach $36 billion by 2026 with the sustainability-minded, bargain hunters and vintage lovers flocking to fashion resale sites. If you like fashion, shopping and focusing on ways to help reduce waste, then work as an online curator and reseller might be your calling.

Clean out some closets and ask friends and family if they have items they are planning to part with, comb through the racks of local thrift stores for finds and set up a virtual store on user-friendly platforms like Poshmark, ThredUp and Depop. Great descriptions and photography will go a long way, along with nice packaging, great customer service and special little touches—and never underestimate the power of a handwritten thank-you note.

Photographer

There is no shortage of great photography to be found on the internet and on social media. Chances are, you have been inspired by many of the photography hobbyists who have emerged through the use of good camera equipment or just the best features of sophisticated smartphone technology. Maybe you’re even one of them.

If so, why not consider turning it into a business by offering services ranging from pet sittings to family portraits to event photography. Local restaurants, retailers and online marketers may even hire those with a real knack to photograph their products to use as online content.

Insights and how-tos can be found at format.com, where you can also find reasonably priced templates to create your own website.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published December 24, 2020





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