There are plenty of teenagers in the world today that are crushing it as young entrepreneurs (and we want you to be next!) From YouTube stars to auto detailers, there are many options to consider when deciding on your first small business idea.
So how do you know which business model is suitable for you? Unfortunately, you're the only one that can answer that question, but we want to help inspire you to take that first step in your journey as an entrepreneur and business owner.
In 2023, there will be more opportunities than ever to start your own business. Starting a company used to require significant upfront investment and a staff of employees. Yet, today we're able to get a business off the ground with little or no money and connect with our potential customers through free channels such as social media and other online forums.
When considering our list of business ideas for teens to start, we wanted to ensure we provided ideas that require little to no investment up front (we understand teens don't have any money) but with massive earnings potential on the backend.
So with all that said, let's first talk about what to look for if you fall into this younger generation of future business owners.
Business Ideas for Teens: What To Look For
Of course, when considering business ideas for teens, there are some limitations to factor in. Certainly, teens don't have much capital sitting around. Some may not have a car or even a driver's license. Of course, school commitments put a limit on working hours too.
So here are a couple of things to look for when considering which business makes the most sense for your particular situation.
Location Independent or Close to Home
Most teens are kept in one location due to schooling. Therefore, teens can either have a location independent business (usually online) that they can run from anywhere or else start a business near their home. Of course, this will depend on where you live, but there are opportunities to make money around the neighborhood.
Small businesses take time to start and grow, but teenagers have limited control over their time. They have teachers, parents, and activities dictating schedules, so they need a way to work on their own time, knowing they can't be on call 24/7.
Low Startup Costs
The best business ideas for teens require little or no money. After all, who really wants to ask their parents for money? We don't recommend it, and you don't need it to start any of the businesses on this list.
29 Business Ideas for Teens
Without further ado, here are our top business ideas for teens to start in 2023. First-time entrepreneurs understand that creating a sustainable business takes time, effort, and a little bit of luck.
One big mistake you'll want to avoid is chasing shiny objects or the latest get-rich-quick scheme that's being pushed all over YouTube.
Take time to think about what they're good at, what sets you apart, and above all, make sure they choose a business they want to start! It seems obvious, but when someone does something they actually enjoy, it can keep them from getting burnt out and quitting too soon.
1. Play Mobile Games
Yes, you read that right, you can get paid to play games!
Earning money while playing video games isn't necessarily a business, but it is living the dream for most young gaming enthusiasts.
Teens can download apps that pay real money to mobile devices and play in their spare time to earn extra money. Discover new games and spend time playing the ones you like.
Here are some apps to try:
- Appstation (Android only)
- Cash'em All (Android only)
- Mistplay (Android only)
Playing video games used to be a hobby, nothing more. Today, the gaming industry allows you to turn your digital talents into a thriving small business. Studies show the gaming industry's value could reach $321 billion by 2026, a number almost unfathomable ten years ago.
While big gaming companies make most of that money, streamers can earn a significant income. The ability to draw viewers' attention and effectively promote products to the audience is critical and can be very rewarding.
Streaming yourself playing video games on YouTube or Twitch can eventually earn you a decent income.
3. Sell on Etsy
A growing number of young entrepreneurs are making a living on Etsy. The platform connects sellers with millions of potential customers, making it a great way to get a business up and running in a relatively short time frame.
If you're into crafts and design, start listing some of your creations and improve as you go along. You may end up with your own website once your small business starts to take off!
4. Selling Crafts
Many people are looking for unique and innovative gifts or home decoration items. Your ability to use your hands and tools to create stunning objects can be lucrative. Online marketplaces are a great platform for crafty teens.
If you have a little skill in making handmade products, you can make and sell your crafts online on Etsy or your own e-commerce website to generate a side income.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) also allows teens to sell crafts through its marketplace. Amazon takes care of inventory, taking orders, and shipping orders.
Selling art, printables, and other creations online can be a great way to get started with online retail and e-commerce. It may look small, but making and selling crafts has a great earning potential for teens.
You don’t need an A+ in art; just a little creativity to make items like:
- decorated totes
- customized quilts
- decorated mugs/glasses
- homemade soap and spa products
- and more…
Even without traditional skills, you can take advantage of technology to create stunning crafts or artwork.
5. Lawn Care
Many adults hate mowing lawns and would pay you to take care of their yards. That is easy because your potential customers are all within a bike ride away. Look for yards in your neighborhood that need upkeep.
Stop by and talk with them about helping with their lawn care. Once you get a couple of clients in your area, word of mouth should do the rest! Depending on the number of lawns you cut each week and the size of the yards, you can start bringing in some decent money.
6. Sell Fruits and Vegetables at a Farmer's Market
Have you been to a farmer's market lately? Selling fruits and veggies is another thriving and profitable business that you can successfully start and manage as a teen.
Plant a garden during spring, start your own booth at the local farmer’s market, and sell homegrown food items. Many restaurants will pay premium sums for locally sourced produce.
7. Wash Cars
Car washing is a great business idea for teens at home during the summer. Create a flyer detailing your car washing services and put it in mailboxes around town. You can do this with a free service like Canva and offer to clean cars while they are on vacation for the weekend.
Depending on your level of service, you can charge a pretty penny for these services. Once you get some recurring clients, start hiring a few friends to help you with the workload!
8. Detail Cars
Motorists love their cars sparkling clean and don’t mind paying for the same. Offer to wash cars at people’s homes or places of work to land as many customers as possible. Start by offering your services to friends, neighbors, and family members.
For this business, you will need buckets, soap, a hose, water, rags, and sponges. Look at it this way – you’ll get to use the water at the car owner’s house!
To get the word out, you will need to use smart marketing. Give your first clients a free car wash so they can see how fantastic your services are.
YouTube is another business model that offers a great opportunity for teens looking to make extra money. Creating engaging videos can be challenging, and it takes time to build an audience on YouTube. Still, if you stick with it, you will continue to improve, and eventually, people will start to pay attention.
Once you build a loyal audience in whatever niche you choose, you will have a sustainable business. Similar to blogging, there is no limit on how much money you can make on YouTube.
10. Pet Sitting or Dog Walking
People like to travel, which leaves them with the constant question of what to do with their pets. Ask your friends and family to hire you to watch their pets while they are away. Another idea would be to offer to board their pets during the day while you're on summer break!
If you love spending time with pets and getting paid to walk, why not try dog walking? You can walk dogs for people working long hours, the elderly, and the disabled.
You’ll not only be providing a valuable service but also getting exercise in the process. You can do this after school hours (in the evening and on weekends). Offer daily visits to provide your services or full-time pet sitting in the dog owner’s house.
Ensure to maintain a good system of communication with your clients. As demand for your dog walking business grows, consider hiring a few of your friends to help you out.
Make extra cash by providing yard clean-up service. Before you even know it, you could be the owner of a full-fledged dog-walking business!
Everyone likes a clean house, but no one wants to clean. People will pay big bucks for a clean house and usually like to have the house cleaned every week or two, which can offer great recurring revenue.
For example, if you wanted to commit to cleaning two houses per week. You need four clients if your clients want their homes cleaned every other week. Charge $200 per visit. Do the math – $1,600 per month for only cleaning two houses a week!
12. Run Errands
Anytime you solve a problem, there is an opportunity to make money. Most people would love you to help them with their errands when they need more time to finish their more important tasks.
Offer to do grocery shopping for your clients or drop their kids off at soccer practice. Once you've built up a good list of clients who call when they need your help, the money will start rolling in to complete reasonably simple tasks. If you don't have a car, you can even shop for them online!
13. Seasonal Chores
This one is obvious. Have a leaf removal business in the fall, snow removal in the winter, mulching in the spring, and mowing some yards in the summer. The best part about this business is the opportunity to make money year-round from the same clients repeatedly.
Consider you have ten clients and two visits to their houses each month. For each visit, you charge $80. So 20 visits per month at $80 per visit, that's $1,600 for pretty easy work. Add some bonus services like gutter cleaning for more cash in hand!
Landscaping and lawn care may not be glamorous work, but it can earn you a good income.
Most homeowners are either too busy or just don't want to rake leaves or mow their lawns. You’d be surprised how many of them would be happy to throw cash your way instead of paying a large landscaping company.
Set a schedule and charge for services such as leaf raking, killing weeds, watering plants, shrub/hedge trimming, and mowing. Your startup costs will be low with this small business. Tools you need for these jobs include
Also, you get to work outside.
Since homeowners are more likely to be at home on the weekend, you can show off your friendly character and build a bond to turn them into loyal customers. While at it, suggest some additional services you could offer.
To earn more, consider setting a flat fee for all yard and garden services. Build your client base through word-of-mouth advertising, yard signs, and door-to-door flyers. You can also try GreenPal, which is a service similar to Uber for lawn care.
14. Retail Arbitrage
Starting a retail arbitrage business could be the perfect business idea for tech-savvy teens who like spending time on their computers or mobile device.
The idea here is to purchase sale items from discount stores and list them for sale on online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace. When you do this at scale, you can make a big profit.
Do you get good grades? Become an academic tutor! Parents always want what is best for their children, but not all children do well in school. Offer to help their kids with their studies and charge an hourly fee. That is a great way to make some extra money after school.
16. Sports Lessons
Maybe the classroom isn't your thing, but you're a good athlete for your high school football or soccer team! Stop by a couple of the Junior Varsity (JV) or middle school games and chat with the parents. When they bring up their kid, mention that you would happily pass around with them on the weekends or after school.
Again, parents want to support their children, and a lot of times, a kid would rather work on their shot with someone they look up to on the varsity team rather than their parents!
17. Creating & Selling T-Shirts
Like selling crafts, this small business is for those with a creative flair. Starting a T-shirt business is as easy as grabbing a pack of wafers. There are teens already making big money.
It might require a little capital to get started, but you don’t need a lot of training. You, your friends, or even your parents can bounce ideas around and brainstorm T-shirt ideas that would sell fast.
18. Offer Music Lessons
How many instruments can you play?
There are probably a lot of local kids in need of lessons to improve their instrument skills. Teach children and other teens how to play a musical instrument such as a guitar, piano, drum, violin, among other instruments.
Teaching music lessons can be lucrative if you’re a talented musician or musically inclined. Offer music lessons to kids in the neighborhood who may be willing to learn new music skills.
You can teach them how to sing and read musical notes. Startup costs for this type of business can stay small, especially if you ask your students to bring their own instruments.
You can advertise your private music lessons through word of mouth at school, music stores, or on social media. While it might be intimidating at the beginning, you’ll get your pitch down in no time, and it will be well worth the effort.
19. Child Care Services
Parents love their kids but need a break from them now and then. Babysitters are always in high demand, and parents are willing to pay good money to have someone they trust to look after their kids.
Have your parents reach out to their friends about your ability to babysit or hang around some after-school events to offer your services. Another option is to talk to parents with young kids in your neighborhood.
Online Business for a Teenager
Teenagers have grown up on digital technology that offers a wide array of online business opportunities. Tech-savvy teenagers can offer social media consulting, tech support, and various freelance services.
20. Start a Blog
For teens keen on building their personal brand, we recommend starting a blog. A blog can be anything you want and will evolve over time. Further, there are many ways to make money from a blog in today's online landscape.
To get started, sign up for a domain name such as ‘yourname.com' and start writing about topics that interest you. From there, you will want to be much more specific regarding your target audiences based on topics in your niche. This guide will walk you through the process step-by-step.
21. Social Media Marketing
Brands know that they have to leverage social media to reach their target audience, but they are often overwhelmed.
Modern businesses need individuals with social media expertise to help them with marketing. Teens have an advantage over most adults when it comes to social media.
If you speak emoji like a second language and are well-informed of what’s trending and what’s not, helping other businesses promote their products and services may be the best way to capitalize on your skill set.
First, establish a presence on sites like Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. Learn all you can about social media marketing. Then use your skill to help clients spread brand awareness.
Offer starter packages to land more clients and build long-term relationships. After that, you can offer a fixed package for a monthly or annual subscription.
22. Graphic Designer
If you enjoy creating graphic designs with software applications like Adobe Illustrator or Canva and think you've got a knack for it, consider starting your own graphic design business.
You can create an online store for your designs or start an account on a freelance platform like Fiverr or Upwork to land clients.
23. Freelance Writer
The internet is brimming with golden opportunities. You can become a successful freelance writer if you have marketable writing skills and creativity in the way you play with words.
There is always a queue of clients willing to work with you if you are a pro in a particular niche. Companies need blog posts, articles, and sales copy to reach audiences worldwide with a variety of perspectives.
With a laptop and good internet connectivity, you can start searching for local and international clients. Turn your talent into an online business by advertising your skills on freelancing sites like:
- Text Broker
- Hire Writer
Some sites allow you to pick jobs directly, while others require you to bid on the posted jobs. Focus on building your online portfolio to land higher-paying clients.
24. Computer and Tech Support
Most American homes have at least one computer. But just because one can buy it from the store doesn’t mean they know how to set it up. This means there’s a big demand for in-home tech services.
If you know your way with computers or technology, you can help people:
- set up and transfer personal data
- install security software
- remove trialware and unwanted programs
- create system recovery discs
- troubleshoot issues
- perform system updates
- and repair computers at a fee
While it’s not exactly a business, you can make some quick bucks quite easily. Provide a “help-line” for clients to reach you when they need help.
25. Affiliate Marketing
Here’s another business that doesn’t conflict with your school schedule.
If you already have a blog, there are thousands of affiliate programs willing to pay you when people click through from your site to theirs and complete a purchase.
Some businesses may be clueless about what to promote on your blog, so you have to develop the ideas from the ground up.
26. Create an App or Online Game
An app or online game is a great way to show off creative skills in a fun way. For teens who are interested in programming or graphic design, this business idea can help you develop your skills while also making some money.
Teens can learn how to code by reading tutorials and watching Youtube videos, then begin creating apps for phones or games for the web.
27. Sell Photos
Photography has grown to become a very popular side hustle among teenagers.
Do you have a great eye? Are you always the one in the group who people trust to document special moments? Selling photos is a fun way to earn extra bucks if you appreciate being behind the best shots.
Most teens have an eye for what’s trending and have a better understanding of technology. If this sounds like you, you can sell photos on Foap, Stockimo, ScoopShot, and Shutterstock and earn a handsome paycheck.
You need a good professional camera, a laptop, editing software, and some post-production (editing) skills, but you can start without a studio.
28. Sell Baked Goods
Selling baked goods is another teen entrepreneur activity that doesn’t require any particular qualification, just a strong work ethic.
You can bake muffins and cupcakes at home and sell them to your neighbors and other kids in your school. Just ensure they taste great and are well-packaged.
If you’re not good at baking, no problem. Baked goods can be consigned to local restaurants, stores, or bakeries.
Once you’re confident about it, you can expand and begin to take larger orders. To avoid last-minute rush and disappointments, take orders and half payment in advance.
Consider decorating cupcakes on Facebook Live and giving them away to gain followers for your business. Remember to check your state’s guidelines on selling baked goods to avoid trouble with the law.
29. Garage Sale Organizing and Hosting
Ever walked past a cluttered open garage full of stuff that the homeowner couldn’t fit their car inside? That’s your first potential client right there.
Many people have treasures lying useless in their garages. But it’s no secret that organizing and hosting garage sales can be stressful for busy adults.
If you’re extremely organized, detail-oriented, and a well-planned itinerary excites you, offer this service at a fee.
Carefully plan out and host garage sales and trumpet your services on social media. You can also slip your business cards or flyers in homeowners’ mailboxes. If your first job goes well, make it an ongoing business.
To be successful as a garage sale organizer and host, you need to be enthusiastic, communicative, and possess a great attitude, as you will likely deal with different types of people.
There are many ways to make money and start your own business as a teenager. Just because you're young does not mean that you're not useful. It also doesn't mean you're not valuable!
Teens generally don't have as many bills or expenses as adults, which means you can charge less money than a big company while providing a similar service. Plus, most adults would rather pay a teenager trying to make extra money than trust their jobs to other adults they don't know.
As you start your own business, you will continue to improve at what you do and make more money as you progress. Even if you don't make a ton of money and ultimately shut your business down as life happens, the knowledge and skills you'll gain are invaluable and will make you a better person in the long run.
Michael founded Pursuit of Passive Income to help its readers achieve financial freedom and create a life they love. He is living proof that every failure is just one step closer to success, having started and shuttered many failed businesses. Michael now makes a full-time income from Pursuit of Passive Income and strives to help others create passive income streams. Read more about Michael’s Story Here!