Starting a business is a big job that requires determination, motivation, and a willingness to learn new skills and information. Teenagers can have some great ideas about businesses and they’re passionate. And both from being a high school teacher and a business owner, I know that it takes passion to have a great business and the innocence of a teen entrepreneur is powerful!
Ways for Teens to Start and Maintain Their Own Business
Teens can be highly motivated to get started, but they usually don’t know what they need to do. By researching their ideas and getting help from others though, it is entirely possible for a teenager to turn their great ideas into a successful small business. Here’s what they need to know:
Brainstorm business ideas.
What do they really enjoy doing? What are their talents and skills? Are they creative? Do they know a lot about a specific subject? Here are a few ideas to help them brainstorm.
Do outdoor work.
Every season creates an opportunity for working outside in the yard. Spring is a great time for planting flowers and laying mulch. Summer means the grass needs to be cut on a regular basis. Fall is the best time for planting a garden and raking leaves. And Winter usually means snow removal.
Start a pet sitting or pet walking service. Many people work long hours and can’t make it home during the day to let their dogs out. If they travel, having someone come by to feed their pets and let them out is not only less expensive than a kennel, but better for their furry friend to be in their own home. By offering to walk dogs or check on a house-bound pet for a small fee, you will be providing a valuable service to your neighbors.
Turn chores into a service.
With long hours and busy family schedules, finding time for chores can be challenging. For seniors who are house-bound, chores can be a very difficult task. One of the simplest ideas is to turn chores in to a service-based business. Chances are people will find value in getting help with their necessary tasks.
Turn your skill of jewelry making or graphic art into an income. You can launch an online store through Etsy and sell your handmade items.
Solve a Problem.
I love the idea that when we talk to our children [of any age] that we ask them not what they want to be or do with their lives but what problems they want to solve. Therefore, making a list of things they’re passionate about solving or issues they’re interested in helping with could be the launchpad for a great business endeavor.
Help them understand realistic expectations
Nobody gets rich over night. You don’t get to eat the fruit of a plant the day after you plant the seed.
So they need to understand this. What they’re doing is worth it but it takes time, energy, and determination.
Your teen will need to choose a name for the business.
Keep in mind that their business name will be their first impression to their potential customers. Choose something that represents the work they do or who they are.
After choosing a business name, you will need to do some research to make sure there isn’t an existing business or product with the same name and they can do this by browsing trademarks, local businesses, and copyright.
Your tween or teen will need to research their market.
They will need to research their competitors and be sure that there is a need for their product/service. Be specific when doing research. Even if the product or service fills a gap in the market, there are always other companies offering similar services or products, or other ways for the customer to satisfy the need. It is important to learn what makes the customer choose one product or service over another so they can position themselves in their market.
Determine their target audience.
It is important to figure out who can benefit the most from their product or service. The better they understand their customer, the faster their business will grow.
Create a simple, but detailed budget for their business.
What will it cost to get started? On the low end – some business cards, flyers and a website. Will they need tools and any other supplies? And how will they deal with startup costs? If they have to take a loan is it going to be from you, another family member, or someone else? It still requires a contract just so they know how to run a business, not a hobby.
They will need to determine what to charge for their services or products and set up a fee schedule for different items.
Lastly, check with your local county to see if you will need a business license. If so, it’s usually very inexpensive.
Now it’s time to get to work.
Help your teen get started with marketing materials like business cards and a website. They can also set up social media accounts for their business to help spread the word quickly. Then get to work serving all the new customers!
More resources for Parents of Teens
Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!