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20 Small Business Ideas for Teens: Realistic Ways to Make Money

Most of us, teenagers included, don’t mind earning some extra cash. 

But when you’re a minor, you might not even know what jobs you can do, or if you’re even allowed to run your own business. 

Lucky for you, there are plenty of small business ideas for teens to try out – some that make money instantly, and some that require a cool head and long-term planning. You could, for example:  

  • Walk dogs and pet-sit 
  • Run errands 
  • Test games and software 
  • Sell handmade crafts 
  • Sell used clothes and jewelry
  • Sell digital art and graphic design 
  • Sell photos 
  • House-sit 
  • Sell homemade baked goods 
  • Offer seasonal gift-wrapping services 
  • Be a nanny or a tutor
  • Be a YouTuber, live streamer, or a social media influencer 
  • Do data entry or social media administration
  • Start a blog or a podcast
  • Get a part-time job or freelance 

Working in your teens also comes with plenty of other perks than just extra money. We’ve shortlisted the 20 top small business ideas for teens, so you can choose the best one for you and get started today.  

1. Walk a dog or care for pets

Do you love pets and always keep pet treats at hand, just in case? Make pet owners’ lives easier by offering dog walking and pet sitting services in your area. 

This one’s one of those small business ideas that are easy to get started with and manage. 

Start by creating a website for your pet sitting business: you need a landing page, a page for your contact information, and another one detailing your experience with pets. 

A website makes it easy for you to market yourself to potential pet owners online. Consider setting up a calendar app to manage all your bookings: this way no pet sitting appointment gets lost. 

Most pet owners will appreciate that you meet with them first.

This way, you can get to know the pets, and the owners can get a good idea of who you are as a person, and what your level of experience is with the particular breed. 

If you’ve never had your own pet, start by asking to help out with a family member’s, a friend’s, or a neighbor’s pet. Ask them to give you some feedback that you could use as testimonials on your website. You’ll look professional and build trust with potential walking clients in the long run. 

2. Run an errands service for others 

Shopping bags on the floor by a table

There are some small business ideas that are just ideal for young people with a bit of time to spare.

Being a personal shopper or assistant and running errands for others is one of them. You might already be helping relatives out with their shopping at the local farmer’s market, so why not expand your business to the rest of the neighborhood? 

Consider yourself handy when it comes to flat-packed furniture? Or maybe you have a knack for cleaning? 

Thanks to the app economy, errand services like Task Rabbit make it easy to earn extra money while completing different tasks.

Start by setting up your account: simply choose your location and the category for the types of jobs you want to help people with. 

Depending on the types of errands you want to do, you should expect to make around $15-$30 per hour. It could be, for example, that those offering gardening services can expect to earn more than people focusing on providing a waste recycling service to their neighbors. 

3. Test games or software online 

Got a passion for playing video games or technology in general? Your teen business could focus on software testing. 

Sites like Ubertsters and Testbirds make it easy to sign up and start testing games and other software in your free time. 

Not only will you provide invaluable feedback to software developers and companies, but you also get to hone your own skills. This could provide you with a real edge in the future, especially if you’re testing editing software or graphic design software, or aspire to become a web designer or a graphic designer. 

If you’re part of a particular video game community, you could ask around and see if you could join a focus group for community testers. 

Depending on the size of the gaming company, and how involved you are as a tester, you could have a real impact on the overall gaming experience of the finished game. 

4. Sell handmade crafts 

Thread, measuring tape, and other craft things on a table

If you’re not a fan of running an errand service or dog boarding business but have an entrepreneurial spirit nonetheless, consider selling handmade ceramics or jewelry, or any other craft

This is one of those small business ideas for teens that is both fun and easy, given that you have some experience in pottery, knitting, or other crafts. 

Many people love gifting a pair of homemade mittens or a unique piece of jewelry to their family, friends, and spouses, so you’re looking at a niche with a big potential target market. 

Many young entrepreneurs use Etsy, Amazon Marketplace, or other online marketplaces to make money. Usually, you need to create a profile and a store on the marketplace platform, add your product listings, and you’re good to go. 

You could also create your own website if you’re not a fan of paying big commissions. Website builders like Zyro make it easy to create a good-looking website for small businesses without requiring a big initial investment. 

5. Sell used clothes or accessories online 

With an ever-growing number of environmentally conscious people, recycling and upcycling your clothes online is a great way to earn money on the side. 

As business ideas go, setting up an online vintage jewelry or clothing boutique has usually low startup costs and can be easily managed on top of other commitments, like school and hobbies. 

With the right social media marketing services, you can automate a lot of manual tasks and focus on planning future marketing campaigns and serving your customers. 

And with an online store, you’re not tied to your geographical location – the world is literally your oyster. 

Setting up an Instagram store can work wonders for your eCommerce business, too. Chances are that you already know the ins and outs of the platform and know how to make the most out of the algorithm.  

6. Sell graphic artworks 

A laptop on a desk with graphic design work open on the screen

For the artistic and creative – selling your artwork online can be a good way to make money and hone your skills with a pen or brush. 

Thanks to print-on-demand technology, you can add your designs to different products and ship them all over the world. Since many print-on-demand companies have a dropshipping business model – you won’t need to hold physical stock of your products. 

Instead, you just need to create your digital products and designs and upload them to the print-on-demand platform. Anytime a customer purchases a mug with your design on it, the company prints your design on the mug and ships it directly to the buyer. 

All you need to do is make sure you have priced your products properly so that you make a profit on each sold item.

Running a custom design business couldn’t be easier, right? 

7. Sell the photos you take

With modern smartphones packing multiple cameras, it’s easier than ever to make your hidden photography talents known to the world. 

Maybe you already rock a killer Instagram account or help your friends to capture their best side for their outfit pics?

Consider setting up a photography business and sell your photos for stock use. This means that you sell the right to use your picture in different publications, both online and offline. 

Platforms like Shutterstock and Adobe Stock are great places to join as a contributor. You’ll get paid every time someone uses your photo. 

To stand out, think outside the box and take pictures of landmarks, details, and landscapes that aren’t too commonly photographed by others. 

8. Try house-sitting 

A girl sitting on the floor next to a sofa

The best business ideas for teens aren’t just all about being out there and hustling

Believe it or not, but house-sitting can be a wonderful way to enjoy your own space and a new neighborhood while getting paid sitting on someone’s couch. 

Most people will need someone to look after their houseplants or pets while on holiday and are willing to pay for someone to stay in their home and keep an eye on things. 

If you’re sharing a room with a sibling, house-sitting can be a wonderful way to experience some freedom and responsibility that comes with living alone. 

9. Sell homemade foods or baked goods 

Bake sales aren’t just for grannies. 

With some clever social media marketing, you could join the local small business owners with your food truck or made-to-order batches of cakes. 

Make sure you’re aware of all the hygiene-related regulations in your area, so you won’t get in legal trouble for a suspected case of food poisoning. 

With this business idea, expect to spend money upfront (you need the flour, butter, and icing before you have something to sell, after all). Just make sure you are adding all the ingredient costs to the price of your final product, and end up making a profit overall. 

In order to make sure your new business brings home the buck, on top of social media marketing you should consider doing some old-school door-to-door marketing in your neighborhood, too. 

10. Offer a seasonal gift-wrapping service 

A girl wrapping up a gift indoors

During the holiday season, everyone’s busy. On top of the stress of buying the right gift for everyone, gift-wrapping can cause serious grey hair to people.

While this business idea isn’t something you can do long-term or full-time, it’s still a great way to make money before the winter holidays. 

Make sure you touch up on your gift-wrapping and ribbon-making before you set up your station at the local department store. 

It’s good practice to ask local businesses first whether you’re able to set up your small business outside theirs – most will have no issues with it, but asking first shows that you’re professional and well-mannered. 

11. Become a nanny 

If you love kids, this is the business idea for you. 

With some clever social media marketing, having your own business as a nanny could be a great way to earn money.

As a nanny, you can set your own hours depending on your own studies and commitments. Since most people need help with childcare in the evenings and during weekends, this business idea is easy to fit around your life. 

Start by doing some research on online nanny platforms. Usually, you don’t have to pay to create a profile, but some platforms might take commission every time you make a booking through the site. 

12. Try data entry

Person outside with a takeaway coffee cup and their laptop in their lap

Data entry is one of those online business ideas that has no startup costs and comes with flexible hours. 

In short, a data entry assistant manually inputs data to a database or other software and gets paid for it. 

Ideally, you should know your way around the basic business programs (think Microsoft Office and Google Workspace) in order to do well in this field. 

There are plenty of free and paid courses online to choose from if you feel like you need to work on your Excel skills. 

Sites like Udemy and Coursera offer a vast array of short courses that explain what data entry is and how to use the most common software to its fullest, but you can also look for free resources on YouTube. 

13. Become a social media administrator 

A social media administrator looks after a company’s social media accounts, so if you’re social media savvy, this could be a great online business idea for you. 

Ideally, you should know the best times to post on different social media platforms, and how social media management tools work. There is a lot of related reading and online courses to touch up your skills if you feel unsure. 

You can find job ads for social media administrators on many job market ad portals, but you can also create a website or a profile on a freelancer platform like Fiverr and Upwork. 

14. Become a tutor 

A girl tutoring a boy inside on a computer

In an ever-competitive school and job market, many parents look for tutors for their children to support their learning. 

Most people are skilled in something, meaning that they can tutor others in their field of expertise. 

You could organize music lessons, offer ACT prep or help with other standardized tests, or give private lessons in primary school math, English, or geography.

It’s also possible to think outside the box: if you’re a wizard with a computer, why not become a technology tutor for the elderly? 

Websites like Skooli and TutorMe are great places to set up a profile and start your tutoring career. 

15. Start a YouTube channel 

YouTube is a great place to share unique video content and build a community of your own. 

Many businesses are interested in the younger market that views a lot of the content on the platform, too.

That’s why many companies spend a considerable chunk of their marketing budgets on video ads and sponsorship deals with YouTubers. 

Make sure you have solid ideas for the type of content you want to make before you start your own YouTube channel. You should also actively engage with and listen to your audience to find out what kind of content works best for your channel. 

Since YouTube is owned by Google, the platform offers a number of ways to earn passive income, too.

16. Become a social media influencer 

A girl taking a selfie against a white wall

Companies are spending more and more on social media marketing, so becoming an influencer can be both fun and profitable. 

Ideally, you should have a profile on a social media site like Instagram, and focus your content around a niche. 

That means that rather than just posting about everything and anything that happens in your life, you should decide whether you want to focus on reviewing local restaurants and cafes or post about fashion. 

The more transparent and open you are about potential sponsorship deals, the better they will be received by your audience. 

17. Become a live streamer 

Live streaming isn’t just for gamers. In fact, you could have a live stream focusing on almost any topic or niche. 

The key is to create interesting and engaging content that other like-minded people enjoy. Since you’ll be able to communicate with your audience in real-time, it’s worth introducing some audience engagement to your streams from the get-go. 

For example, if you’re into baking, your live stream could include you answering questions from the audience while trying out a new recipe. 

Platforms like Twitch and Mixer make it easy to start your live streaming journey for free.

Just remember to keep up a consistent schedule and using social media to market your stream to the right target market. 

18. Start a blog

A person writing on a laptop

Blogging has long been a great business idea for anyone with a deep interest or knowledge of a particular subject. 

It’s a cost-effective way to build a brand and share your knowledge or expertise in a certain niche. Plus, it’s easy to start earning pocket money from your blog, too. 

You can work on a flexible schedule, and write up a handful of blog posts before publishing them. Just remember who you’re writing to: young people won’t be interested in the same things as parents, for example. 

Using platforms like Zyro gives you full control over the look and feel of your blog, making it easy to change things up whenever you want. 

More on blogging: 

19. Search for a part-time job 

Having a part-time job is a traditional but effective way to make some money while you’re a teen. 

Depending on the kind of job you go for, you could be looking at making a couple of hundred a month, if not more. 

Most restaurants, supermarkets, retail stores, shopping malls, and cinemas offer part-time contracts ranging from a handful of hours a week to 20 or more. 

The easiest way to get your foot between the door is by asking your friends and acquaintances for open vacancies they know of. Being referred to a part-time job is considerably easier than applying for an open position posted online. 

If you have experience in hospitality or retail, you’ll have better chances of standing out from the crowd, if you decide to go the traditional application route. 

You could also look for freelance gigs online for maximum flexibility. Freelance work is usually readily available for artists, creative professionals, translators, and web developers.  

20. Start a podcast 

A woman recording a podcast inside

Podcasting can be a great avenue for any young person to get their voice heard while building a personal brand. 

You can get started with minimal equipment, so you won’t have to worry about high startup costs: for example, many podcast hosting sites offer a one-time trial discount for new customers. 

You can make money off your podcast by selling ad space within your podcast episodes, featuring different brands in your show, or monetizing your podcast website. 

Be prepared to be in it for the long run – podcasting won’t make you a millionaire overnight. 

Why you should get a job as a teen 💁

Even if you’re not looking for full-on hands-on entrepreneurial immersion that comes from running a small business, working during your teens has lots of different benefits: 

Earn extra pocket money (plus other perks) 💰

It goes without saying that most of the small business ideas on our list equal extra income. 

Sure, a lawn care business can be a seasonal endeavor if you live in a place with cold winters, but nonetheless, you’ll be able to save up money and be independent. 

Aside from the money, depending on your job, you might receive other nice benefits (a work laptop, or lunch coupons, for example).  

Develop your skills 🧑‍🏫

Whether you run your own business or are employed, working from a young age helps you develop and fine-tune many important skills. 

Running a small business teaches you all about entrepreneurship, and customer service, for example, providing you with hands-on early business training free of charge. 

But don’t fret if you’re not able to work on the next big sewing business in your teens – there are plenty of online resources to help you develop your skills for the world of work. 

Build your resume and portfolio early on 📝

There are plenty of benefits in getting started early on with your portfolio

  • You’ll be able to get work easier in the future 
  • You have tangible proof of your past achievements
  • You can keep track of your employment history visually 

The best portfolios showcase work that’s relevant to your job title or to your desired position. You should choose the pieces that best reflect and represent your skills. It’s also important to keep updating your portfolio regularly. 

You shouldn’t shy away from the idea of having a portfolio website – they are easy to set up and maintain, and give you more flexibility and freedom than traditional portfolios.

Prep up yourself for the real world 🏢

Whether you dream of working for a graphic design business or running your own branding business in the future, having a job as a teenager prepares you for what the working world is like. 

Since the fact is that most people spend a big chunk of their lives working, working different jobs as a teen gives you an idea of what to expect. 

Not all jobs are the same, and not all working weeks or working days are all fun and games. 

Having the right expectations for the professional world will help you stay motivated and work towards the right goals in the future.

Become more responsibile and independent 💼

Working as a teenager is a great idea if you want to truly learn responsibility and independence. 

The US Department of Labor reported that for every year a person works in their teens, they can expect a 15% increase in their income in their 20s. 

Youth First also found that working teens learn responsibility, good workplace habits, time management, and organizational skills.

The rules around working as a teen 

A person handing another person a pen while holding papers

Depending on where you are in the world, there are most likely some rules and regulations in place for working minors.

In the US, for example, you need to be above 14 years of age if you want to work. Minors under the age of 16 are also not allowed to work above a certain number of hours. If you wish to work in a job that involves excavation, driving, or operating machinery, you probably need to wait until you turn 18 or 21. 

If your parents or legal guardian runs a small business, then you might be able to be employed by them regardless of your age. 

Children of any age are, however, allowed to: 

  • Deliver newspapers
  • Perform in radio, television, movie, or theatrical productions
  • Babysit or perform other small duties around a private home 

This means that setting up a teen business focusing on running door-to-door errands isn’t as complicated as you might think, even if you’re only 15. 

Some US states have different laws regulating the employment of minors and teens, so it’s worth checking with your own state’s Labor Department what rules apply to your area.

Become a teen entrepreneur and earn extra bucks today

Whether you decide to sell online, do dog walking, or offer test prep services, working in your teens gives you a broader skill set for the professional world. 

You’ll be able to get a job easier after school, build your resume, and learn how to manage your money early on. 

Wow your future employers and land your dream job by getting ahead now.

Written by

Author avatar

Matleena

Matleena is a seasoned eCommerce writer, with a particular interest in emerging digital marketing trends, dropshipping, and growth hacking. She’s addicted to coming up with new eCommerce business ideas and making them a reality; she deserves her nickname of ‘print on demand business mogul.' In her free time, she enjoys cups of good coffee, tends to her balcony garden, and studies Japanese.

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