Roll up your sleeves and get to work.
- Having a job as a teenager can be great — you get to make money and learn skills that will serve you for your whole professional life.
- Consider putting your tech skills to use as a web designer or consultant.
- Babysitting and car washing are marketable skills that your neighbors will pay for.
Getting a first job is a rite of passage for many teenagers. Since I grew up in a home with two small businesses, I was frequently called on to help wrangle children (for the home daycare center) and clean or otherwise help out with remodeling projects (for the home improvement company) from a pretty young age. I didn’t get my first “real” job that wasn’t working for my parents until I was 16, and that was a retail job as a clerk for a bookstore in my town.
Do teens need jobs?
Having a job as a teenager can be great. First and foremost, you get to make your own money (which can really come in handy, as it can be expensive to be a teenager — and expensive for your parents to raise a teenager). You can build valuable people skills that will definitely be beneficial once you’re out in the workforce as an adult. And you get to start building a resume and gussy up your college applications with your wealth of experience.
A lot of teenagers’ first jobs are in retail establishments, food service, or another customer-facing industry. There’s typically a low bar of entry for these jobs, and it’s often much easier to work for an existing business than to set up your own. But if you’re an enterprising teenager, it could be worth starting your own business venture.
Prospective colleges and future employers will be that much more impressed by teens who’ve had the initiative to start a small business, and you never know what the future holds. Maybe the web design company you start as a 17-year-old will put you on the path to career success later.
Read on for five fun small business ideas for teens. Many of which can be done in your very own neighborhood and for low start-up costs, to boot.
1. Technology consultant
I’m a millennial, and as such, I’m part of the first generation for whom home computers were extremely common — my family got our first when I was 15. I spent many frustrating hours as a teenager helping older relatives with their technology woes, and I’m kicking myself for not charging per hour for my services.
Kids these days are practically born holding smartphones and tablets. If you’re a teen and love playing with consumer tech, why not start a technology consulting and helpline business? You know your grandmother is going to ask you for help setting up her new iPhone, so you may as well make a little money. You can also offer your services to adults in your neighborhood.
2. House cleaning
This is a great business idea for teens, as the supplies and equipment needed are inexpensive and easily available. And you likely already know how to tackle some household cleaning tasks if you’re responsible for chores at home. A lot of adults are busy with work and taking care of their kids, so if you can market yourself to grown-ups you already know, you’ll likely find a lot of people willing to try you out for cleaning bathrooms, running a carpet shampooer, and more.
3. Web design
Going back to technology, I’m continually amazed by how many teens are great at programming and web design; I certainly didn’t learn any of those skills when I was in high school! This business has the advantage of being operated from your home. You might need to get a loan from the Bank of Mom and Dad to finance the right computer for this endeavor, but then you can hire yourself out to other small businesses to improve their web presence.
Babysitting is a classic teenage job for a reason, but if you put in the time and spend a little money to get some training, you might make yourself very sought after indeed. Consider taking CPR classes through your local Red Cross or hospital; you might even find childcare classes on offer as well. If you can show parents in your neighborhood that you’re responsible and can be trusted to care for their kids, they’ll likely hire you again and again.
5. Washing cars
Washing cars is often more of a seasonal business idea for teens, but if you live in a region with harsh winters, neighbors might engage you to get all that damaging road salt off their cars in between snowstorms, too. The start-up costs involved here are also pretty low; you’ll want sponges, hoses, buckets, and special soap. With all that and some elbow grease, you can make money and get a great workout washing cars on a sunny Saturday.
If you’re ready to start your own small business, take some time to write a basic business plan, so you’ll have on paper (or on screen) the services your business will provide, a summary of your costs, and how you’ll market yourself. If you do end up needing to borrow some start-up funding, you’ll probably find it easier to find a relative willing to back you if they can see how you intend to make money with your venture.
At this stage of your business life, it’s unlikely that you’ll need a business checking account, but getting a basic bank account with a parent or guardian’s help will give you a place to keep your earnings. Starting your own small business as a teenager may seem daunting, but some or all of these ideas are likely within your skillset, so spend a little time working up your plan and launch your own booming business.
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