According to our latest Youth Economy Report, over 70% of young people in the US said that earning their own money is important. A generation ago, teen jobs followed a familiar pattern: paper routes, store work, and babysitting. Today, young people have more of an entrepreneurial streak.
More than a quarter want to start their own business while 4% of young people are already making money from their business ideas. Becoming a teen entrepreneur is a great way to try something new and learn key financial and business skills. If your child is thinking of becoming an entrepreneur, here are some of the best business ideas for teens.
Why start a small business as a teen?
There are so many good reasons to start a small business as a teen. Not only does it teach them valuable lessons about business and entrepreneurship, but it also provides an opportunity to develop financial management skills like budgeting, cash flow, and investment. Our research shows that 75% of young people think having good money management skills will help in their future careers. And what better way to perfect these skills than by running your own business?
The benefits of our small business ideas for teens
- They can work alongside studying
- They can run their business from home/college
- They will have low business overheads and little to no initial investment
- They’re likely to have a client base that's known to them
- They have their own networks to build their business
- They have an understanding of marketing thanks to social media
- They will have the freedom to develop their own business and career.
Tips for starting a small business
- Encourage your teen to do their research. They can have the best idea in the world, but if five other people are already selling the same service or product, demand for their business will be low. Remind them to check out their competitors, and find a gap in the market they can fill.
- Make sure they understand their customers. Ask them to talk to people who will buy their product or use their service. If it’s dog walking, how much are people willing to pay? If it's baking, what could they sell that no one else is offering?
- Sort out their finances. Behind every great small business is a solid financial plan. The GoHenry prepaid debit card and app allow them to deposit earnings into savings pots. It can also help teach them about cash flow. By helping them track their incoming and outgoing payments.
- Learn from mistakes. Everyone in business makes mistakes. It’s the best way to learn. If your teen gets a bad review, make sure they don't ignore it and suggest they use it to improve their offering. If they've priced themselves too low or too high, change the pricing or the product/service to better reflect what they offer.
- Ensure they are willing to work hard. It may look easy to sell cakes/wash cars/sell clothes online, but for any business to be successful, it means putting in the hours.
30 small business ideas for teens
So why do teens give up their free time to run a business? According to GoHenry's research, around half of young people say it’s so they can do something they’re passionate about. While for 24% being their own boss was a priority for their future career The desire to run their own business starts young, too—30% of seven-year-olds say they hope to do so in the future.
If your teens are stuck on where to start, here are some ideas for them to think about:
Tech business ideas
If your teen wants to start making money from YouTube videos, they’ll need 1,000 subscribers and people to have watched 4,000 hours of their content in the last 12 months to start earning. This means they have to put in the hours and create the videos way before the cash starts coming in.
Computer set-up service
As digital natives, teens are tech-savvy in ways many of the older generations aren't. Offering a service for smartphone set-ups, laptops, printers, and devices can bring in a tidy sum.
Create an online game
To make money from a game your teen has created, they can charge people a fee to play on Roblox (between 25 and 1,000 Robux). Once they earn 100,000 Robux, they can convert it to cash ($350).
A podcaster with around 10,000 downloads per episode can expect to earn between $500 and $900 an episode. However, your teen may need recording equipment and editing programs before they can create a podcast series and start building a following.
Social media influencer
Our latest Youth Economy Report shows teens are already making money as social media influencers. Bear in mind this takes a lot of work to build up a following. Only macro-influencers (those with over 40,000 followers on a social platform) make the big bucks.
Are your teens great at taking video shorts on the phone? If so, they can sell their skills to people who need content for Reels and TikTok.
If your teen is well-versed in WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace, they could earn money creating blogs or websites for local businesses.
If your teens love writing, why not suggest they start a niche blog? They can make money from advertising, writing sponsored content, and sharing affiliate links.
Live stream gamer
Live stream gaming on platforms like Twitch means broadcasting via the internet playing. They’ll need the right equipment and software. They’ll also need to promote their channel to get an audience, all while playing games.
Business ideas in care
Thanks to lockdowns, almost everyone has a pet these days—and many have separation anxiety. That's where pet sitting comes in for evenings and weekends. Offer services to friends, neighbors, and people you know with dogs or cats.
Pet grooming services
While clipping and claw trimming are jobs for professionals, both cats and dogs need regular brushing. Dogs need regular bathing too.
If your teen has experience with dogs and feels confident looking after someone else's pet, they could consider a dog walking service.
A classic job for teens, but see if they can spot a niche in the market for holidays or weekends. They could even mix tutoring with babysitting.
Shopping for an older person
Many families are on the lookout for help with an older relative. It's usually a befriending service they want. Companionship and maybe a little grocery shopping too.
Creative business ideas
Get your teen to check out Etsy to see that selling art can mean anything from t-shirt designs to greeting cards and one-off digital prints to exclusive framed designs.
Sell handmade crafts
This could be jewelry, scarves, hats, knitted goods, hair accessories, cushions, candles, and even soap.
Caricature or portrait artist
You'd be surprised how this market can make your teen extra cash if they’re good at art. Caricature gifts range from custom cards and mugs to pillows and t-shirts.
Selling clothes online
Selling clothes online can be a great way to clear out your teen’s closet, resell last season's garments and make some cash.
Selling baked goods
There may be a lot of baked goods sellers in the US but if your teen can specialize and find a niche, they could make some extra dollars. Have your teen take a look at what’s trending. Keto? Gluten-free? Or maybe their recipe for baking chocolate chip muffins is a family secret, passed down for generations.
Outdoor business ideas
Make sure your teen’s car washing service shines. They could earn $45 plus tips if they vacuum, wipe the seats, clean the glass, wash and wax the outside and clean the wheels too.
Landscaping/lawn care services
Yard tidying is in big demand these days. As well as weeding and lawn care, mowing and planting your teen could prune shrubs too.
Your teens could earn from $20 a time to shovel driveways and walks.
Entertainment business ideas
DJing is an art form. If your teen has a talent for blending melodies and tracks and an instinct for influencing the mood in any atmosphere, they could DJ. They just need to choose a niche and promote themselves on social media.
Party event planner
Teen parties are big business and knowing what’s hot in fashion and music will give your teen a head start. They want to be able to design party themes with special touches that are bang on trend.
Gift wrap services
Holiday gifts, birthdays, weddings, bar mitzvahs - offering a premier gift wrap service can make your teen more than they might think.
Community business ideas
With a good eye, software editing skills and a small investment in equipment, your teen could set up as a photographer or videographer. To make any money in a competitive marketplace, they’ll need a niche. How about specializing in pet photography, events, family portraits or creating social media content?
Does your child excel at math, languages, or history? Or are they a gifted musician? Tutoring younger kids is a great way to bring in some extra cash.
Works a treat if a location is chosen wisely (see quote from Ella, 15 below).
This is a great business to try. If your teen invests in a telescopic window cleaning pole they won’t need a ladder.
If your teen is tech savvy, becoming a VA might be a smart choice. They need to be familiar with managing email inboxes and using cloud-based communication, such as file sharing, password managers and teleconferencing.
Success stories from teens with business ideas
“You know as a kid, someone always says ‘we should do a lemonade stand.’ It always used to be for the fun of it, but I’m someone who likes to plan ahead and I started thinking about college and cars. I thought if I could make a profit off of this, like serious profit and hire my family, it could be a great financial opportunity. That’s how I looked at it, and last summer I made $500.”
ELLA, AGE 15
“I started getting interested in crypto in spring 2020, when I heard about it on Tiktok and Instagram. I felt that it was accessible to me as a teenager, so I did lots of research to find out how it works, before investing $300 into various coins such as BTC, ETH and XRP. Since then I’ve been accumulating and trading crypto, and making money with the ups and downs of the market.”
WOODY, AGE 16
How to get paid as a small business owner
Whatever your child decides to do as a business, make sure they have their finances sorted so they can keep track of income and outgoings and save the profit. With a GoHenry prepaid debit card they can give customers the option to pay via bank transfer too.
Money Missions on the GoHenry app can also teach them some key lessons around financial management. What’s more, if you want to keep an eye on what's happening, you can view income and outgoings via the GoHenry app.