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Ingvar Kamprad, the Swedish creator of IKEA, sold matches to his rural neighbours at age 12, and founded his famous furniture store in his 17th year. Billionaire Mark Cuban also stepped into business at 12, selling rubbish bags. Richard Branson bred and sold parakeets at age 11. At the age of six, Warren Buffett sold chewing gum to his neighbours (and proved to be quite the hard-nosed negotiator.)
It could be argued that entrepreneurs are born, not bred. Many of the best begin their business journeys as soon as they possibly can, as the desire to succeed burns both deeply and brightly.
If you’re a teenager, the time might be ripe to begin your own journey, and if you’re reading this, you’re probably eager to get started. Let’s take a look at why you should become a teen entrepreneur, how to start a business as a teenager, and 15 of the best small business ideas for teens.
The benefits of becoming a teen entrepreneur
Teenagers find themselves at an age when they can begin to chart their own path. You’re blessed with a good head on your shoulders, some money in the bank, and maybe even your own set of wheels. Most important of all, you have time. While your parents are still putting a roof over your head and food on the table, you have the freedom to experiment.
By starting your own business now, you give yourself options. You might initially treat it as an educational experience and a way to earn a few extra dollars, but it might end up developing into something that you can pursue full-time.
Even if you do choose to study or enter the larger workforce after school, your own business is an amazing thing to put on your resume: it shows ambition, initiative, leadership and self-sufficiency.
Best of all, creating a successful business will see you getting paid. You’ll have more money to spend on the things you love – what’s not to love about that?
The next question: what will your business look like?
15 small business ideas for teens
No matter your skills and interests, your money and resources, your age or experience, there’ll be a teen business idea for you. For a bit of inspiration, here are 15 of the most common business ideas for teens, and what they involve.
1. Provide babysitting services for busy parents
The original teen business idea remains one of the best. If you love spending time with kids, babysitting can be a great way to turn your downtime into a money-making exercise. Babysitting also has zero start-up costs!
2. Tutor younger students
Are you armed with a sharp mind and great communication skills? Whether your talents lie in maths, English, science or music, becoming a tutor can be a hugely rewarding business venture that also doesn’t require much upfront investment.
3. Offer dog walking services
Prefer puppies to children? Dog walking might be for you! Combine fun and fresh air while you give your furry friends the exercise they need. This is a business that is easy to both start and scale!
4. Create a YouTube channel
Are you an avid gamer and passionate performer? Running your own channel on a streaming service like Twitch can be a hugely lucrative exercise, as you’re paid by your viewers, though this is quite a competitive space.
5. Become a content creator
Not a gamer? Perhaps you could influence the masses through your social media channels. Provided you have a large and engaged following, you can be paid by brands to endorse their products!
6. Consult on marketing and social media strategies
Love technology and social media, but prefer to stay out of the spotlight? Consulting could be the way forward. Brands want to hear from young people, as they offer insight that can help the business to better engage with their audience online.
7. Blog/vlog about your passions
Whether your preferred medium is video or the written word, a blog or vlog can offer a deeper and more meaningful form of influencing. Simply create your website or YouTube profile, choose your field of interest, and get creating!
8. Write freelance content for clients
While bloggers write for themselves, and leverage their audience to earn, you can make money more directly by becoming a freelance writer for someone else. If you’re old enough, consider creating a profile on Upwork or Fiverr – marketplaces where you can shop for work!
9. Offer professional photographic services for events
Have you invested in a DSLR? Despite what you might’ve heard, people are very willing to pay for quality photography, so you might consider turning this passion into a career. Whether you capture landscapes, wildlife or personal moments is up to you.
10. Sell products online
Are you arty and/or crafty? Make your work available byon a site like Etsy, or consider establishing your own online store!
11. Set up a market stall
Alternatively, go analogue: take your arts and crafts to a local market, and earn money in person! You don’t even have to work in cash – securing an EFTPOS machine and taking card payments is super easy!
12. Provide convenient home delivery
Whether your mode of transport is a car or a bike, offering to deliver things for people can prove to be a lucrative business. You could become a driver/rider for a big corporation, sure, but better money is to be made by creating your own boutique business in underserved areas or for underserved customers.
13. Start a gardening business
If you enjoy gardening and can handle a shovel, landscaping might be the business for you. You could begin by offering basic services like mowing lawns and shifting dirt, and develop your skillset as you go, eventually shaping backyards from scratch.
14. Provide professional cleaning services
Offering a home cleaning service is a great way to make some extra cash on a regular basis. You could also take steps into Airbnb management, and combine your cleaning skills with high-end hospitality!
15. Become a personal shopper or assist others with shopping needs
A lot of people don’t have enough hours in their day. Offer to do their shopping for them, and place their groceries directly into their cupboards and fridge – Woolies and Coles can’t compete with that level of service!
How to start a business as a teenager
The final question: how do I start a business as a teenager? The answer will depend on the business you choose, and the age at which you begin. Remember that cash work is simple to start, but almost impossible to scale. If you want to create a business that has the potential to grow, you’ll need to make things a little more official.
If you’re under 18, it’s more than likely that you’ll need your parents to sign off on certain things. Depending on the laws in your state, you may need to start your business in partnership with someone over 18, and may be restricted in your ability to do things like sign legal documents and open bank accounts.
On top of checking out our complete guide to starting a business, ask yourself the following questions before making the decision to proceed:
- What are the laws for starting and running a business in my area for a person my age?
- How much time can I commit to this business every week?
- Who will manage my invoicing and finances?
- How much am I willing to invest in my business before I see a return?
- What is my exit strategy?
If you can answer all of those questions confidently, you’ll be well on your way to teen entrepreneurship. And if you’re looking to get paid in the quickest and simplest way possible, Square is ready to help.