Small Business
Jun 7, 2024

How To Start a Business as a Teenager [In 8 Simple Steps]

It can never hurt to have a bit of extra cash no matter how old you are.

Yet, as a teenager, your allowance probably isn’t enough, and you’ve probably outgrown the idea of mowing your neighbors’ lawns and shoveling their driveways.

In that case, you might want to consider learning the ins and outs of how to start a business as a teenager.

But is it possible to legally start a venture as a teenager? Definitely!

This post will tell you everything you need to know about launching your own company, along with some ideas and insider tips.

How to Start a Business as a Teenager: The Basics

Starting a business as a teenager builds character and teaches responsibility. Plus, it’s a great way to build up a winning resume.

What Is the Youngest Age to Start a Business?

If you’re still under 18 years old, certain tasks will require your parents’ sign-off like opening bank accounts or signing legal documents.

Yet, that’s only if you’re planning to make your business more official and give it a chance to expand.

However, if you’re not yet 18, that doesn’t mean you can’t be your own boss. Here are a few examples to draw inspiration from.

Can a 14-Year-Old Start a Business?

Definitely! Do you have a winning idea and are prepared to put in the work to form your own Limited Liability Company (LLC)? Then, there’s no reason why you can’t become a 14-year-old entrepreneur with a guardian helping you tread through the legal matters in 46 of the 50 states.

However, if you live in any of the following four states, you have to be 18 years or older to start a business:

  • Oregon
  • Minnesota
  • Illinois
  • Colorado

Can a 15-Year-Old Set Up a Business?

As stated above, you can set up your business at any age, so 15 is as good a time to start as any. In fact, according to a survey done by Junior Achievement USA, 60% of teenagers would prefer to start a business than seek traditional employment.

That said, you do need to get your parents involved in certain aspects of your business, such as legally registering your business or applying for a loan.

While it may seem tedious, this process is put in place to protect you, your business, and any potential income.

Is 16 a Good Age to Start a Business?

16 seems like an ideal age to start an at-home business like selling jewelry online or washing cars at your local gas station.

The three key points to remember are:

  1. Have a 6-month business plan: this includes marketing, figuring out who your target audience is, and how your business will make profits.
  2. Start small: it’s good to dream big, just make sure your expectations are realistic so you don’t flop too soon or feel frustrated at the first signs of trouble.
  3. Build your network: it always pays to have a wide social circle to market your business and bring on as many potential customers as possible.

Is 17 Too Late to Start a Business?

It’s never too late to start a business, whether you’re 17 or 70. Studies show that at 17, you’re more organized with your time than ever before. As such, you’re better equipped to juggle between school, extracurricular activities, and an after-school job.

Plus, you only have one year left before you can legally become your own boss. That should make you more motivated to learn new skills like how to create a solid business plan and balance a budget.

Having a better understanding of how the business world works at 17 will allow you to have better control over your finances. This way, by the time you’re 18, you’re ready to hit the ground running.

Everything You Need to Know about Starting a Business as a Teenager

It’s not easy to start a business at any age. Yet, the good news is that you can do anything you put your mind to as long as you have a proper format to follow.

Below are some insider tips on the things every small business needs.

Who Is the Youngest Business Owner?

If you were born between 1997 and 2012, you are a proud member of the digitally savvy Gen Z. This latest generation, with ages ranging from 25 to 10 years old, is fearless when it comes to making income in innovative ways.

Having their lives online is an integral part of their lives because they were born into the digital age. Accordingly, this makes them better suited to come up with great ideas and have the gumption to follow through.

To give you a bit of inspiration, we rounded up some of the world’s youngest entrepreneurs.

Some of these young entrepreneurs started their ventures when they were seven years old! Take a look.:

  • Hart Main started his manly scented candle business when he was 13 years old when he discovered that the market was severely lacking in scented candles for men.
  • Lily Born launched her company Imagiroo LLC at the age of eight to manufacture three-legged cups that don’t tip over.
  • Moziah Bridges found the inspiration for Mo’s Bows when he was nine years old. Bridges was invited to the White House in 2015 where he presented President Obama with an ‘Obama Blue’ signature bowtie.
  • Kamaria Warren launched Brown Girls Stationery when she was seven years old. Her idea came about when she couldn’t find birthday invitation cards designed for colored girls.
  • Vinusha MK began Four Seasons Pastry at the age of nine in 2019. She’s now running her successful startup and making good profit margins doing what she loves the most: baking!

What Business Should You Start as a Teenager?

With the various platforms, resources, and technology available at your fingertips, there’s never been a better time to become a young entrepreneur.

So, if you’re interested in forming your first business but have no clue where to start, we’ve got you covered. Here are some ideal first ventures to consider.

Babysitting

The only thing a babysitting business needs is your time and attention. You’ll mostly be asked to work on weekends and weeknights, so your social life may take a hit.

Yet, you’ll be helping out busy parents while making a nice income in the meantime.

Pet Sitting

Like babysitting, pet sitting is another business idea that requires no money, only your time. Some even consider it less stressful than babysitting.

The only real kind of work you’ll have to do is if your clients have a dog. If that’s the case, you’ll also have to take them on daily walks.

With especially energetic breeds, you should take them to the local dog park as well so they can let off some steam and work off all that extra energy dogs seem to have.

Tutoring

Do you usually do well at school? Then, that makes you a shoo-in for starting your own tutoring business. You don’t have to be an Honor Roll student or make straight As in all your subjects, one should be enough.

You can help your peers understand various subject materials and show them how to solve questions.

Then, when it’s that time of year, you can also help them prepare for college entrance exams like the SAT, ACT, and CLT.

Another idea is to tutor younger students. You can do this in person if they live close by or via a video conferencing app.

Print on Demand

Printing requires a low initial investment and lots of creativity. They’re two features that make print-on-demand a lucrative business idea for teenagers.

Start by finding a good printer, then purchase t-shirts, tote bags, and other apparel in bulk. Make your designs using any basic digital software.

The next step is to create an online business through eBay, Etsy, or Shopify. You can also build a website to sell your products.

It’ll cost you in the beginning. Yet, the good news is that you’ll be able to keep all the profits instead of giving a percentage of it to whatever online market you’re using.

Sell Handmade Items

The best thing about this business is that the ideas are virtually limitless. You can make any and all of the following and sell them online:

  • Candles
  • Soaps
  • Items made by weaving, knitting, or crocheting
  • Jewelry
  • Art and prints
  • Digital products

Sell Online Services

If you’re interested in finding online jobs for teens, here are some ideas you can try:

  • Buying and selling used items like books and CDs
  • Vlogging and live-streaming
  • Dropshipping
  • Infographics and digital planners
  • Email, presentation, and Photoshop templates
  • Freelance copywriting and content writing

Errand Running

Running errands is when you run errands for people who can’t do them for themselves, typically, but not limited to, seniors.

The errands are usually normal tasks, like going to the post office, running to the dry cleaners, picking up groceries, and more.

The best part is that you only need your smartphone and a reliable means of transportation.

Lawn Care

A lawn care business is perfect for teenagers because it requires minimal experience and a small initial investment.

You can start with simple tasks, like mowing lawns. Then, expand your venture into other lawn needs like trimming hedges and bushes, removing debris, and weeding and pest control.

How to Start a Business as a Teenager

Follow our step-by-step guide on how to start a business as a teenager.

Come Up with a Business Idea

The first step in any successful business is figuring out what kind of product or service you want to offer the public.

Your unique selling point (USP) should be something you enjoy doing so that you have a better chance of sustaining your venture in the long term.

Start with a Business Plan

Once you know what you want to do, the next step is to draw up an actionable plan. It should contain how you plan on operating and managing your business.

Your business plan should also include clear steps on how you plan on marketing your venture to ensure it brings in a steady revenue and becomes profitable.

Use government resources, such as the US Census Bureau. You can find plenty of information about the demographics and census of different people and places.

This way, you can build a strong business plan that focuses on a specific segment of the population, be it occupation, age, or gender.

Figure Out Your Initial Costs

Now, it’s time to fund your business idea. If you’ve been saving money over the years, then you’re off to a great start!

If not, you can make a list of possible people who can help you raise capital to fund your venture. You can ask friends and family or start an online fundraiser.

Another idea is to apply for a small bank loan with the help of your parents.

It might also be a good time to open a business bank account separate from your personal account to make it easier to manage your finances.

Get Some Input

Getting feedback is a critical part of any business. It helps validate your idea, set the right price, and guide you to the best way to market your products or services.

So, where can you get some viable input?

  • The cheapest and most obvious is using your friends and family as your sounding board
  • Using free tools to collect feedback from a wide audience base like SurveyMonkey
  • Social media, such as Facebook and Instagram polls
  • Post in forums like Reddit, Mumsnet, or Moneysavingexpert.com to get different perspectives
  • Many fellow bloggers and influencers might be eager to give you their insight

Do Market Research

In almost any industry, you’re sure to find some fierce competition. So, it pays to do some research to find out who your competitors are and what they’re offering.

Then, ask yourself: what can I bring to the table to make my business stand out? Will it be offering potential customers better service or cheaper prices?

Register Your Business if Applicable

The next step is to register your business with local and federal agencies. You can find all the information and forms you need on the Small Business Administration (SBA) website.

Then, you’ll need to get the necessary licenses or permits that apply to your type of business and the state you’re operating from.

This is also a good time to come up with a name for the business. Plus, if you’re looking to trademark your brand, you’ll need to file with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Come Up with a Marketing Plan

In this high-tech day and age, marketing your wares has never been easier. Although, there’s still a wrong way and a right way to get the word out about your business.

So, do your due diligence, take advantage of social media platforms, and expand your network. The more people know about your brand, the more sales you’ll start racking up.

Launch Your Business

Now you’re ready to start selling your products or services.

After establishing your business, the economies of scale will quickly take over. Then, slowly, but surely, you’ll have a profitable venture on your hands.

Staying diligent and following your business plan will allow you to reduce initial costs and boost sales.

Consequently, your profit margins will start to increase. This will allow your business to cover its initial start-up costs and generate a return on its investment, thus boosting your profits.

According to the Corporate Finance Institute, a good margin falls between 5% and 15% for small businesses.

Yet, it takes time for small businesses to see an increase in their profit margins. So, be patient and pay attention to your sales.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can I Sell for a Small Business?

The majority of items sold online are creative-based. Luckily, several websites make it accessible to market and sell your ware like Etsy, Amazon Handmade, and Shopify.

Your online store can include a range of products like:

  • Artwork
  • Jewelry
  • T-shirt and tote bag designs
  • Crochet, knitting, and sewing
  • Greeting cards

Can I Own a Small Business at 16?

Yes, you definitely can! However, you’ll need a parent or guardian to help you take care of legal matters. You’ll also need them to sign business contracts and bank-related paperwork.

After that, you’re free to take the reins of your business.

Wrapping Up

Are you a young person with a fantastic business idea? Or maybe your regular after-school job simply isn’t bringing in enough income?

Either way, you’ll be happy to know that you’re never too young to work toward building a business of your own.

Hopefully, the tips and tricks in this guide on how to start a business as a teenager can help you get you off on the right foot to launching a successful company.

If you have any questions, leave a comment below.