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Business success can come at any age, and you never know who will think of the next big idea. If you have an industrious teen with an entrepreneurial spirit — or if they’re just looking to make some extra spending money on their own schedule — launching their own business could be the answer. Let's look at some business ideas for teens that are perfect for a first business.
What makes a good business idea for teens?
There are a few criteria that will make a business idea slightly easier for teens to start and operate. After all, they’ll need to work around a full class schedule and will likely have limited resources — including startup capital. As you evaluate the following small business ideas for teens, keep these things in mind.
1. Home-based or easily accessible
Depending on the age of the teen, transportation can be a major concern. For teens who aren’t old enough to drive or are just learning, a home business will be much easier to operate.
2. Flexible hours
Just like many adults who start a side hustle, teens are working a full-time job while starting up their business. While school isn’t traditionally considered a “job,” it does take up eight to 10 hours of each weekday, depending on their extracurriculars. The best business ideas for teens will have flexible hours that will allow them to work in the evenings and on weekends.
3. Low financial investment
While most potential business owners are looking to make as small of a financial investment in their new business as possible, most teens will have limited savings and have minimal access to outside financing (especially if you don’t want the “bank of mom and dad” to be on the hook). Choosing a business idea for teens that has a low-cost financial investment is key to success. The fewer things needed to operate the business, the less they will need to buy before getting started.
How Much Do You Need?
28 business ideas for teens
There are so many cool business ideas for teens out there. You can start with something traditional like babysitting in your neighborhood or helping kids with homework, but technology has opened the doors to so many other, new opportunities.
With the above criteria in mind, let’s take a look at 28 business ideas for teens.
1. Academic tutor
An easy business idea for teens is to become an academic tutor. Everyone has unique skills, so whether you’re good at math, science, writing, or reading, you have the skills to teach someone else who may be struggling in that subject. An academic tutor can also help with test prep for the SATs, ACTs, AP tests, or other standardized tests.
2. Car washing
Everyone loves to have their car looking shiny and new, but not everyone has the time to dedicate to washing it. A car washing business is simple to start, all you need is a bucket, soft sponge, window cleaner, and elbow-grease for polishing. This can be a great weekend job for teens.
3. Child care
A tried and true business idea for teens is to operate a child care or babysitting business. On the weekends or even during the week after school, you can help neighbors or family friends by caring for their young children. If you want to stand out from the competition, many communities offer local classes on child care and babysitting.
4. Pet sitting or dog walker
For kids who love animals, there’s no better way to get time with animals and start a business than by pet sitting or dog walking. Both of these businesses also offer flexible hours and your clients will provide all the supplies you’ll need, from leashes to treats and more.
5. Lawn care business
If one of your teen’s chores is to mow the lawn, they already have the skills needed for this business. By marketing their services around the neighborhood, they may be able to drum up a lengthy client list, and an especially popular time for a lawn care business is the summer, when your teen will have lots of free time on their hands.
For any kid who’s been helping out with chores around the house, they’re likely already familiar with all the skills they’d need to start a housecleaning business. Nearby homeowners would likely be happy to pay a teenager to help them dust, mop, and vacuum their home.
During the summer and scheduled breaks from school, many families take this opportunity to travel. While they’re away, they need someone to stop by the house, take in the mail, water the plants, and perform other small daily tasks. Starting a housesitting business can be a great way for teens to earn some extra money while filling a need in their community.
For teens who drive, offering to run errands for neighbors or friends could be an easy way to start a business and make money. This business can be especially helpful to people who are home-bound or have limited mobility. Plus, this business idea doesn’t require any specialized skills and they can set their own hours.
9. Seasonal chores
Another seasonal business for teens is to help with seasonal chores. Most homeowners don’t have a lot of spare time, but they still want their homes to look nice and festive during the holidays. Teens can start their business by doing odd jobs at the season changes, such as putting up and taking down holiday decorations and lights, shoveling snow, raking leaves, gift wrapping, and much more.
10. Selling handmade crafts
Artistic teens who are good at crafts can hone their skills and make some money by selling their creations. This can be a local endeavor, or they can set up their own business website to sell their crafts to a larger audience. Check out our list of the best craft business ideas.
11. Making greeting cards
One specific idea for a handmade craft that teens can create and sell is greeting cards. Many people are returning to handwritten notes. By creating personalized designs or eye-catching artistry, teens can easily sell their own greeting cards to be used by friends and family.
12. Art teacher
The ability to draw, paint, or do any other kind of art is a skill, just like being able to solve complicated math equations. Teens who are looking for a business idea and are good at art should consider starting a business as an art teacher. They can offer lessons to peers or younger children in the neighborhood.
Not every artist works with a pen in their hand — some are gifted with music. For those passionate about playing or writing music, teen years are an opportunity to get together with friends, form a band, and perform locally. This is a good business idea for teens that should also be a lot of fun.
14. Music lessons
For musically inclined teens who aren’t interested in starting up a band, they may be interested in giving music lessons. Whether they excel at the piano, guitar, violin, or another instrument, there’s bound to be a market for this skill.
15. Farmers market vendor
Farmers markets are generally a great way to sell handmade goods in your local area, and they can be an easy way for teens to start a business and sell their wares close to home. Whether selling crafts, food items, or handmade beauty products, there are several avenues for this type of business. Keep in mind, you may need a parent to actually reserve the booth and oversee operations.
16. Candle maker
A simple craft to make that’s always in demand is candles. For those looking for a business idea for teens, this is a sellable craft that’s easy to learn and doesn’t require a ton of upfront investment. Learn more in our guide to starting a candle business.
17. Retail arbitrage
An interesting and simple business idea for teens is retail arbitrage. For those who are savvy online, this can be a simple business that makes a decent profit. The main idea in retail arbitrage is to find high-quality items for a low price and then to resell them in a different marketplace for a higher price. Many people who start a retail arbitrage business will find items at local garage sales and then resell them on eBay or Facebook Marketplace.
18. Graphic designer
For a tech-savvy teen who is also artistically inclined, there’s an opportunity to start a graphic design business. This can be as simple as creating a few cool designs and then putting them on T-shirts for friends or could involve doing freelance work for local business’s marketing efforts.
19. Technology tutor
While some older adults don’t know how to use their smartphones, tablets, or computers, kids are growing up with this technology and know it better than anyone. If your teen has the patience and the skills, they can make some extra money as a technology tutor.
With a dash of tech know-how, some skill for writing, and a passion for a specific topic, your teen could launch a business through a blog. Keep in mind, this business idea will take a little more time to turn a profit. First, they’ll need to grow an audience, and then they will have the opportunity to partner with advertisers and affiliate partners to bring in revenue. If they can optimize their blog, though, this could be a simple way to make extra money.
A still relatively new and growing space is the podcast world. Similar to a blog, your teen will need passion for a specific topic and the ability to grow a decent following, but once they do, they can earn income by finding advertisers interested in placing ads on their podcast. Learn more about how to start podcast.
22. Social media influencer
As most teens already know, there are lots of celebrities out there who make money by talking about products on their social media platforms. This has become known as a social media influencer. Many brands also look for local personalities with a strong following. If this sounds like your teen, they may have a business on their hands.
23. Live-streaming gamer
For teens who love video games, there’s no better dream than to make money by playing video games. Live-streaming gamers do just that. One of the most popular sites for getting started with this type of business is Twitch.TV.
24. Photographer or videographer
With a small investment in equipment or some skill with a smartphone, teens can start a business as a photographer or videographer. There are many niches within this type of business, so teens can specialize in pet photography, events, family portraits, or creating social media content for local businesses.
25. Web designer
A little knowledge can go a long way toward supporting this business idea for teens. Many small businesses need websites and may not have the cash to hire a professional. By offering their services at a discounted rate, teens can start their own business as a web designer. This is a great way to practice skills and make some extra money.
Another business idea with flexible hours is to transcribe interviews for a local newspaper or other business. Your teen can work on their typing skills while also providing a service that makes money.
27. Data entry
For most future professions, teens will need to know how to use spreadsheets and work with data. To learn these skills, teens can start a business in data entry. This type of business offers teens a flexible work schedule and the ability to learn an important new skill.
28. Create an app or online game
Anyone can create an app or online game these days, including teens. If your teen has a great idea and the technical skill to make it into a reality, they could turn this into a business. Completed apps and games can then be featured on various app stores, which return a percentage of the profit to the creator.
This article originally appeared on JustBusiness, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.