Finding ways to earn extra money or save toward college is part of many teens’ experience. It’s a powerful rite of passage on top of helping them understand the value of money and the work that goes into earning it. For most teens, that means getting a job at the local burger joint, in the mall, or with some other local business. That’s a fine way to go about it, but it’s not the only model.
Another, arguably better, choice is to encourage your teen to start their own business. They get all the benefits of having a part-time job, plus experience in success skills you don’t learn working for somebody else.
Why Teens Should Start a Small Business
Like we said, starting a small business helps your teen earn some money, and learn some valuable lessons they won’t get working a job. Beyond that, it carries some other strong advantages.
- Not Limited to Minimum Wage. Minimum wage, which most teens start at, is depressingly low. A small business doesn’t limit their earnings that way.
- Looks Great on College Applications. College applications will go smoother when they mention, or write entry essays about, the experience of entrepreneurship.
- It’s More Flexible. Your teen won’t have to worry about losing their job to go to a camp, volunteer with friends, or take a trip.
- It Builds Self-Reliance. Being able to fend for themselves is a skill your teen will need more and more with each year moving forward.
- It Teaches Startup Mentality. Thinking like a business owner can prepare young adults for success as an entrepreneur or employee.
7 Great Business Ideas for Teenagers
Here are a few great ideas for types of businesses that most teenagers could start today.
1. Monetizing a Hobby
At this point, your teen is probably passionate about and surprisingly good at something. That might be a sport, a hobby, or “pwning” a certain video game franchise. Whatever it is, their skill level is sufficient to start charging people for their skills and knowledge in that area.
For example, a teen passionate about a video game could begin livestreaming their play and collecting ad revenue on YouTube. A teen who likes building computers could start doing that for your friends and business associates. A teen into model trains could start trading in low-cost trains they find at garage sales, then sell high on Ebay and other online marketplaces, while one who loves to bake might bring muffins to the local farmer’s market.
For every hobby or interest, there is a model to make money, and no reason to wait for full adulthood to begin exploring that model.
- Your teen is engaging more deeply in something they love, which can be fulfilling.
- It immerses them early in something that could become a real career.
- Builds confidence as they realize they know more about some subjects than adults around them.
- Can be an introduction to e-commerce and other forms of online business.
- Making money from something you love can lead to burnout.
- Many e-commerce niches have stiff competition, or require a leadup to success that won’t become profitable until after your teen turns 20.
- Replicate success: have your teen look into who’s succeeding in their area, then find ways to do what that person is doing.
- It’s tempting to spend more on a hobby than this earns, so counsel and check in on your teen about their expenses.
2. Tutoring and Coaching
Wherever your teen’s skill level at their academic subjects or school sports, chances are they’re ahead of somebody else. That might include adults getting their GED or younger kids looking for a leg up. Teens can help people in the community around them while helping their financial situation by tutoring or coaching.
The rarer the skill your teen has, the more likely they are to succeed here. They will find more clients and be able to charge more money for more specialized tutelage. For example, a teen with strong calculus chops or who is fluent in French can charge more for tutoring than somebody who offers basic coaching on how to lift weights or gives introductory music lessons.
- Further develops their skills. Most people learn more by teaching than by being taught.
- High-paying compared to most items on this list.
- Teaches early the value of maintaining specialized skills and knowledge sets.
- Usually harder to find clients than with some other models on this list.
- Inflexible schedule because they have to meet when their clients are available.
- Although most have a minimum age requirement, online tutoring platforms can help your teen find clients while also widening the potential pool.
- Encourage your budding tutor to ask for referrals. It’s one of the best ways to gain new clients in personal businesses like this.
3. Taking Care of Smaller Creatures
Whether the small creatures are children or animals, taking care of them is a classic method of teen earning. Although most teens suitable for this work already got some experience with it as a tween, it’s different now. Teens are old enough to take on more challenging and independent responsibilities, which means they can charge more for their services and sell them to a wider range of customers.
For example, they might move from simple date-night child care to watching kids for an overnighter or a weekend. They might move from pet sitting at home to a daily dog walking service or watching a home with pets while the owners are away for several days.
- Builds on skills and contacts your teen has already developed.
- Being responsible for another being’s safety builds responsibility.
- Can be more flexible, allowing your teen to take or pass on opportunities based on their overall schedule.
- If they were involved in housesitting or babysitting as a younger child, they can upgrade to more responsibilities as they get older.
- Not all teens are suited for this kind of work, either by temperament or ability.
- Some adults view this as work for tweens, so a teen may need to overcome that perception, especially when charging premium rates.
- It can help to get a certification as a sitter, and in the appropriate first aid, to help sell your teen as a reliable professional.
- Your teen can look for ways to work for multiple clients simultaneously, for example walking more than one dog at once.
4. General Handyperson and Errand Runner
Doing chores for money is something even preschoolers and kindergarteners can do, but once a teen gets a driver’s license or masters the bicycle, it opens doors for all kinds of help-for-pay options that were previously closed. Every family and every neighborhood has adults with more money than time, or with physical limitations that require some assistance.
For the former, hiring a local kid to take care of some task
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