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How to Start a Business as a Teen [Step by Step Guide]

Don't Work Another Day is reader-supported. We may receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own.
  By Forrest McCall | Last Updated:  November 6, 2020

If you’re looking to make some extra money as a teen, you might want to consider starting a business. Not only can your business be used as a way to make money but you can also learn a significant amount about how businesses function, your likes and dislikes, and so much more.

But can teens legally start a business? Yes! You certainly can.

In this post, I’ll explain options to start a business as a teen, business ideas perfect for teenagers, and much more. Keep reading to learn how you can build your business no matter your age.

How to Start a Business as a Teen: Step by Step Guide

While many teenagers might dedicate most of their time toward socializing, playing video games, or other tasks, there are some that are extremely entrepreneurial (including myself years ago). You might find yourself asking a few questions. “Am I old enough to start a business? How can I start a business as a teen? Are my parents needed to help me start a business?” And many more. Below, I’ll explain a step by step guide to starting a business as a teenager.

Step 1: Define Your Business Idea

In this phase of starting a business, you don’t necessarily need to have all of the kinks worked out (although this is helpful!). Instead, you’ll want to have a grasp on how you plan to make money and serve customers.

Your business idea can be anything. For many entrepreneurs, they might start with a business that has a proven model to become profitable before moving on to more unique businesses in which profitability might be more difficult but extremely rewarding.

Step 2: Do Your Research

Before starting any business and receiving the benefits of entrepreneurship, you'll want to do some research on your competition and business model. Do your competitors have an advantage compared to your business? Is there something you offer that puts your business in front of theirs? Will you offer better services or products when compared to your competition or will you price your offerings at a lower price point?

All of these questions should be considered when researching your business.

Step 3: Create a Business Plan

Once you’ve defined your business idea, you’ll need to create an actionable plan on how you will operate your business and become profitable.

A business plan can consist of various components including the structure of the company, the basic financials of the business, how you plan to market the business, and much more.

A business plan will help guide how your company will operate in the future and help you to ensure your business is going on the right track.

Related: How to Start a Painting Business

Step 4: Name Your Business

Once you’ve created a business plan and have determined to continue with your business, you’ll need to give it a name. This part can take time to determine but it is an extremely valuable aspect of your business, especially if you consider selling it in the future.

Your name can be just about anything but here are a few things to consider:

  • Does the name already exist for another business? If so, you might want to think of a different name.
  • Does the URL for your company name exist or has it been taken?
  • Does the name describe your services or products?
  • How does the name make people feel?
  • How easy to remember is the name?

Step 5: Raise Money (Capital) to Fund Your Business

Now that you have a plan in place for your business, you'll need to find some money to get started. This might be from friends or family, or perhaps you've done a great job of saving money over the years to fund this venture.

Either way, you’ll need to find some money to start your business. If you don’t have any money to get started, here are some things you may want to give a try:

  • Complete extra chores around the house to save money
  • Save money from holidays, graduations, birthdays, or other events
  • Get a part-time job to save money to start your business
  • Consider getting a small loan to start your business

Step 6: Register Your Business

Once you’ve received the funds you need to get started, you’ll need to register your business with local and federal agencies. You can access the SBA website here to get help registering your business.

Step 7: Obtain Permits and Licensing

Now that your business is registered, you’ll need to obtain any permits or licenses necessary to operate your business. Some businesses may not need any, while others might need a few.

Step 8: Open Bank Account

Separating your business and personal finances is critical to keep your money in order and the IRS away. By opening a bank account for your business, you can much easier manage your money.

Step 9: Start Your Business

Now that you’ve completed the steps above, you should be ready to start your business. You’ll want to begin marketing your products or services and fulfilling customer orders.

Do I Need My Parents to Help Open My Business?

Depending on your age, you might need your parents or legal guardian to help you open a business. If you’re under the age of 18, oftentimes you’ll need a parent or guardian to help open your business.

If you’re over the age of 18, you can open a business all by yourself with no questions asked.

Related: How to Make Money as a Kid

Best Businesses to Start for Teens

Below are some of my favorite businesses for teenagers to start.

Landscaping and Lawn Care Business

A lawn care business is a great option for many teenagers because of the small initial investment and the type of work. You can easily get started by cutting the neighbor's grass before expanding your business into other lawn care needs. You can get started for anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand, depending on your level of needs. Landscaping is a great example of turning your expertise into cash!

Babysitting Business

A babysitting business is a simple business to start that only requires your time. You’ll need to be available many weekends and weeknights to help busy parents out but you can make a nice income through babysitting.

Start a Blog

Anyone can start a blog, including teens. Just pick a topic you're passionate about, purchase a domain and hosting, and get started publishing great content to entice readers. While it might take some time to monetize your efforts, you might find it entertaining and fulfilling. 

Blogging is a great passive income idea for teens looking to make money.

Auto Detailing Business

Similar to a lawn care business, starting a car detailing business is an excellent way for teenagers to make money because of the low initial investment. You'll simply need a method of transportation to get to your customer's car and some basic supplies to get started. Check out this post on how to start a car detailing business!

Pet Sitting or Dog Walking Business

Pet sitting or dog walking is an awesome business for teens to start because of how easy it can be. You’ll just need to have time available to walk dogs or keep them company while their owners are gone to make some extra cash.

Start a Cleaning Business

Cleaning Business

Nobody likes to clean, but it can be a perfect business for many teens. You can get started with just a few supplies and charge upwards of $250 per home you clean. You can purchase most of the supplies needed online or you might have them at home already. 

Photography Business

A photography business is a great option for teens because it only requires a camera and computer to get started. You can often start a photography business for a few thousand dollars or less.

Professional Video Game Player

While this isn’t necessarily a business, many teens can make money playing video games and streaming them online through various websites. Some players can make well over $1 million just by streaming playing video games.

Moving Business

If you own a pickup truck or have the ability to purchase a box truck, starting a moving business can be a great idea for any teen. You’ll need to be comfortable moving heavy items to get started.

Furniture Flipping Business

Furniture flipping is a great business for people of any age and you can get started for less than a few hundred dollars. The process is simple: purchase a distressed piece of furniture, restore it to your liking, then sell it for a profit.

You can also opt to sell wood crafts on website like Etsy to make money!

Amazon FBA or Wholesale Business

A wholesale business is a great option for teenagers because it can be completed at any time. You’ll need to source products through wholesales and sell them online for a profit.

Check out my guide to starting an Amazon FBA business with little money!

Start a Tutoring Business

If you tend to perform well at school, you’d be the perfect candidate for starting a tutoring business. You can help your fellow peers understand their courses and help them solve questions. 

Start a Candle Making Business

While you might not think of starting a candle business, it can be a great way to make money at any age. And while you might be overwhelmed with how difficult it might seem to make candles, it’s actually quite simple. You’ll need to purchase wax, fragrance oils, containers, and wicks to get started, all of which can be purchased for less than a few hundred dollars.

Start a Holiday Setup Business

This business is perfect for those with time on their hands. It is typically only completed in the winter months around December, but throughout that month you can make good money. Best of all, you’ll only need a ladder and free time to get started.

Start a 3D Printing Business

3D printing can be a great business for teens to make money because of the ease of getting started and a low initial investment. You can pick up a good 3D printer for less than $500 and then produce products and sell them online through Etsy, eBay, Amazon, or your own website. Learn how to make money fast 3D printing!

Start a House Sitting Business

Similar to dog sitting, house sitting involves staying at a home to keep it safe while the owners are away. The best part of this job is being able to complete other tasks while getting paid to house sit.

Phone or Computer Repair Business

In the digital age, there is always demand to fix broken devices ranging from computers to smartphones. You can learn how to fix many common issues online through YouTube and various websites. You'll need a few tools to get started that you can purchase for less than $100.

Snow Removal Business

Snow Removal Business

This business will only be available in some geographical locations but is a great option for teens to make money during the winter months. Best of all, you’ll only need a shovel to get started.

How Can Teens Grow Their Business

If you’ve already established a business as a teen, congrats! But you might be wondering how you can expand your business and make more money. Here are a few tips to help you grow your company and build your customer base.

Expand Marketing Efforts

One of the first things you can do to expand your business is to boost your marketing efforts. This will draw in more customers and in turn, increase your revenues.

The type of marketing should match your target audiences' preferences. For example, if your target market is a younger audience, you might want to consider social media marketing to grow your business because that's where your audience spends time.

Become More Efficient

Once your business is established, economies of scale should start to take over and help your business to become more profitable. This means that you will become more efficient and productive, allowing you to reduce costs and improve your margins.

Conclusion: Starting a Business as a Teen

While starting a business as a teenager certainly poses a few unique challenges when compared to their older counterparts, it's quite possible and can be an excellent learning experience. Depending on your age, you may or may not need a parent or legal guardian's help.

You’ll want to start with a business idea before refining it with a business plan and funding your venture. Once you’ve polished your business, agreed on a company name, and received the funds required to get started, you’ll want to register it with state and local authorities. Finally, it’s go time.

Do you have any advice for teenagers looking to start a business? Comment below!

Forrest is a personal finance, entrepreneurship, and investing expert dedicated to helping others obtain life long wealth. He has a Bachelor's degree in business and has been featured in many popular publications including Forbes, Business Insider, Bankrate, CNET Money, and many others. To learn more about Forrest, visit the About Us Page for more info.
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