For young and aspiring entrepreneurs who have grown up connected to the online world, there are a wealth of potential business opportunities.
Indeed, given their combination of technical knowledge and access to free learning resources, it's little surprise that so many young people are now finding success in the business world; all you need is an idea, after all.
To help provide some inspiration for the next generation of entrepreneurs, we've compiled a list of business ideas for teenagers, with each venture generally falling into one of the following three categories:
- Internet Businesses
So, whether you're looking to make some extra cash, gain some valuable business experience, or forge the next great entrepreneurial success story, here are some great ideas for businesses that a teenager can start.
The ubiquity of the internet has created some exciting opportunities that teens can take advantage of, and while running an internet business requires a decent amount of tech-savvy, teenage entrepreneurs can quickly reach a worldwide audience.
Social Media Consulting
Today's teenagers are the first generation to grow up with social media and, as a result, they are often far more in tune with what is successful on these mediums than many adults are. Therefore, when you consider that there are many small business owners who, for one reason or another, neglect social media, this is certainly a market that teenage entrepreneurs can capitalise on.
By creating a strategy, producing content and publishing posts for the social media accounts of a small business, you can create a real and quantifiable impact on that business's growth.
A well-developed website that is regularly maintained and which possesses authority within a strong niche can be a profitable income generation source for a business venture.
Registering a domain name isn't too complicated or expensive for most teenagers, and once the website starts attracting traffic, you can utilise advertising networks such as Google AdSense to begin generating profit. The key is to target the right demographic and to offer something that people want, such as Ashley Qualls who, at the age of 14, began offering HTML tutorials and custom MySpace layouts on her website, whateverlife.com, before being offered $1.5 million for it a few years later.
Playing video games for an audience may not sound like a monetisable activity to most adults, but the reality is that live streaming is now big business. By building large and devoted collections of followers on services such as Twitch, live streamers can gain direct income from subscribers and profit from other sources as well, such as endorsements and sponsorships.
However, it's not as simple as turning on your Xbox and hitting the 'record' button. Live streamers put in long hours to keep their audience entertained and building a successful brand takes effort and diligent social media management.
These business ideas are focused on the time-honoured business strategy of creating something that people want and delivering it to them at a fair price. They are perfect for teenagers because they will give you a chance to do something you love and build a sustainable monetary ecosystem for it. Here are some great businesses that can put crafts to work.
Running an Etsy Store combines the limitless potential of the internet with the opportunity to focus on a craft that you are passionate about. You can use those aforementioned social media skills to get your product in front of one of the busiest craft marketplaces in the world.
Etsy does take a small fee for items sold through the site, though. There is a 20-cent fee to list an item, and Etsy receives a 3.5% commission on every item sold.
Cupcakes may be in vogue these days, but there is always a market for well-made baked goods. There are also quite a few inexpensive packaging options teens can use to make their products look professional and get their baked goods into the hands of hungry customers.
Running a small bakery business can be a great way to learn more about how to get licensed and the way that local health codes work, which is especially valuable if running a bakery or a similar establishment is your long-term goal. To sell baked goods to stores or restaurants, you will need to be approved by local food safety officials, too.
Growing and Selling Produce
With a little space, time and practice, you can build a successful business by growing and selling your own produce. Restaurants will often pay premium sums for locally sourced produce, especially if the ingredients come with a great story and from the right owner.
Another route is to try and join a local farmers market. These community spaces are not only a great place to sell produce but also to meet like-minded entrepreneurs and build a network. The wide array of businesses at these events might even help you come up with your next venture, too.
These small business ideas are more in line with the traditional jobs that teenagers are often hired for. However, with focus and planning, you can develop these side gigs further and make some real cash under the guise of your own business.
The inability to drive may seem to put most teenagers at a disadvantage in the moving business. However, if you market yourself as a helping pair of hands to people who are willing to drive their belongings – but would prefer not to lift them – then you could be onto a winner.
The advantage here is that you can undercut the high prices of professional moving companies by setting competitive rates. Networking at places like senior centres will help get the word out that the business is available and ready to help, while you could even support a couple of employees on bigger jobs, giving you invaluable management experience.
Another way for teenage entrepreneurs to put their technological prowess to work is to start a technology solutions business.
If you market yourself to demographics that are traditionally non-technical, such as the older generation, there is the potential to create a sustainable venture. Services can include setting up devices such as smart homes, printers or speakers, or creating repeat business by tutoring people on how to use the internet or social media.
Mowing lawns is the quintessential job for teenagers – but those who are entrepreneurially inclined can take things a step further. Your prospective business could offer other gardening services, such as weeding and tending, or even other basic DIY jobs such as fence painting.
Lawn care is a natural business for growth, too. It works very effectively with word of mouth and line of sight; after all, once you have one satisfied customer on the block, what's stopping the rest of the neighbourhood from securing your services?
Of course, there are many other great business opportunities for teenage entrepreneurs - this is just a flavour of some of the ways you can begin earning your own money. Regardless of its success, it will also look great on any potential college or employment applications, too.
What other small business ideas for teenagers can you think of? Let us know in the comments below.