Many of the most successful people in business today started out as teenage entrepreneurs. For many teens, the realization that building something of your own beats working for "the man" comes to them naturally, but coming up with the right idea isn't always easy.
So here are 10 ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Most can be started by anyone, and a few will require some specialized knowledge, but might get you on the right path or spark another idea, even if you don't have that knowledge right now. And if you're at all worried about being taken seriously as a teen business person, take a look at our recent post on the subject.
Whatever business you decide to start, know this: if you're a teen reading this post, you're already far ahead of 90 percent of other people your age, and way ahead of the vast majority of people of any age.
To enter the world of entrepreneurship can be challenging at times, but those of us who do it know that all the hard work, setbacks, and challenges that come are nothing compared to the rewards of starting and growing your own business. So don't let anything slow you down. If being in business for yourself is your dream, go for it with all you've got!
Garage Cleaning/Organizing Service
Have you ever walked past an open garage that was so cluttered with stuff the family couldn't fit their car inside? Those are your potential clients. Cleaning out the garage is a chore no one enjoys (unless they're getting paid like you will), so convincing people to hire you won't be that hard - especially if you're polite and professional and your rates are reasonable.
Your startup costs will be minimal with this business - chances are you have most if not all of your supplies at home already. All you'll need are a good push broom, some cleaning supplies and lots of elbow grease.
To get customers, make up some flyers and go door-to-door around your neighborhood. It might be intimidating at first, but before long, you'll get your pitch down, and it will be well worth the effort.
If you have a pickup, or know someone who has one and wants to be a partner, consider starting a haul-away service. Whether it's in their back yard, in their garage, or under their stairs, people all over the world have lots of junk. nd many are willing to pay someone else to haul it away.
Figure in the cost of gas, maintenance, and insurance on the vehicle you use when coming up with rates, and make sure to find out if your local dump charges to drop off there. Another great thing about this business is that what one person calls junk, another might want. You'd be surprised at what some people get rid of, and there might be an opportunity there to sell some of this "junk" in the classifieds, eBay, etc.
To market this business, go door to door, or post flyers at your local grocery store, or laundromat's community bulletin board.
Small Engine Repair Service
Are you handy with all things mechanical? Can you take apart just about anything and put it back together? If you have the skills, some tools and a garage you can work in, there is a market for a small engine repair service.
From lawn mowers to snow blowers, your neighbors are bound to have something they need fixed. For the price of a few flyers, you can be in business fast. As you prove yourself, your customers are sure to tell others, and you'll be busy as a professional tinkerer before you know it!
Ok, so mowing lawns for the summer isn't a very original idea. But who says you have to limit yourself in this category. Why not think big? Start out by mowing lawns in the summer and clearing snow in the winter, but rather than spending your earnings on the latest video game system or car stereo, use your revenue to expand your services to other kinds of yard work.
Trimming hedges, killing weeds, and planting flowerbeds are just a few of the services you could add, without spending much at all on additional equipment. As demand for your business grows, hire friends to help you out. Before you know it, you could be running a full-fledged landscaping business.
Social Media Consulting
If you're in your teens, chances are very good you know your stuff when it comes to using Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and other social networks. But did you know this stuff is big business? Well it absolutely is. There are entire consulting firms dedicated to helping their clients maximize their social media efforts, and some of them probably don't have as much experience at it as you do.
Step one is to find out all you can about using social media for business. There are tons of online resources for this, so that part's a breeze. Next, decide what services you'll offer and if you'll specialize in a particular area - Facebook fan pages, for instance. Then get out there on social media and make it known that you're available as a consultant.
Also consider visiting local businesses that see the value in social media but might not know how to get started. There is a huge market for this right now. You just have to plan it out and go for it!
For less than $100 in wax and equipment, anyone can be in business for themselves making candles. If you're creative and willing to do the necessary legwork, you can do well as a candle maker, and you'll have fun too. First, you'll want to decide which kind of candles you want to make. There are beeswax candles, colored candles, scented candles, or aromatherapy candles, to name a few. Then you've got to decide where you'll sell your finished candles. There are lots of options, such as eBay, craft fairs or direct sales to local shops - or all of the above. If you can come up with a unique design or presentation for your candles, this business can blossom into a company that will keep you busy well beyond high school!
Like candle making, this business is for those with a creative flare. It might take a little more to get started, both in money and know-how, but you don't need tons of training, and if you use materials like beads and silver rather than gold and diamonds, starting a custom jewelry business doesn't have to cost a lot. To get started, you can learn most of what you need to know from books on the subject. Then it's a matter of practicing until you're good. If your stuff is attractive, you'll find a market eager to snatch up your pieces - often for a premium price.
Web Design Service
This is one business where you really should have some training and a lot of practice to get started. Yes, there are many people out there calling themselves web designers who just use templates and have only a basic html background, but you don't want to be one of those.
The real money in this field is made by those who know what they're doing. If it's something that interests you, it won't take that long to learn, and you can do very well from referrals and return business. And this is another business that can take you far beyond your high school years.
Are you an expert in a particular area, like social media or high school algebra? Are you an entertaining writer, or simply have a great sense of humor?
If you can get people to read what you have to say, you can make money at it by starting a blog. There are thousands of affiliate programs that will pay you when people click through from your blog to their sites and make a purchase.
You'll want to read lots of articles (like these) about how to do this right, but once you figure it out, it can mean making way more than your friends working at the taco place!