Your age shouldn’t stop you from starting a business!
If you’ve ever wondered if you can actually start a business and become a successful entrepreneur as a teenager…
The answer is a resounding, “yes!”.
The real question isn’t whether or not you can start a business in high school…
It’s how to start a business in high school.
Fortunately, I’ve got you covered.
Here is my nine step quick-start checklist to entrepreneurship as a teenager…
Plus stick around to the end for my secret to becoming a successful business owner and creating passive income…
No matter your age.
Now let's get started on how to start a business as a teenager!
How to Start a Business as a Teenager in 2021
Start a Biz as a Teenager Summary:
With the internet, some hard work, and persistence, you can start a business as a teenager before even graduating high school. To get started as a teen entrepreneur, you’ll need to set goals, write a business plan, create a website, and market the heck out of your idea.
Quick Start Checklist:
1. Brainstorm Your Ideas and Set Goals
Maybe you’re in high school and you’re old enough to get your first job.
Your parents are on your back about getting your driver’s license and then putting your application in at basically every fast food restaurant in town.
But flipping burgers at your local McDonald’s literally sounds like the last thing you want to spend your afternoons and weekends doing after school…
So you find yourself asking whether a teenager can start a business.
Thanks to the age of information that we’re living in…
Starting a business in high school is more attainable than ever.
Whether you are inventing a new product, offering a valuable service, or even becoming famous on TikTok…
The possibilities for teenagers to start a thriving and successful business are endless.
It will take hard work, and commitment…
But if you want to become a small business owner and entrepreneur…
There are no rules about how old you have to be to get started.
The first step is sitting down and brainstorming your business ideas.
What skills do you already have that you could turn into a business?
Maybe you’re great in school and could start a tutoring or SAT Prep business, or maybe you play an instrument, and could start teaching lessons.
Or do you have a creative idea for a new product that you can invent?
Be realistic about the marketability of your ideas, and set clear but attainable goals for yourself.
Generally speaking, creating a product will be a more expensive business to start than using your already existing skills.
2. Identify Your USP and Target Market
If you are serious about starting a business that will actually start to make money and turn a profit, then you need to treat your business as seriously as any entrepreneur would.
Which means that you shouldn’t go into business before determining your target market and your business’s USP.
What the heck is a USP, you ask?
USP stands for “Unique Selling Proposition”.
Your USP is what makes your business model or product stand out from the crowd.
It’s the thing that makes what you offer completely different than anything else within your target market…
And it’s the answer to the question, “Why should someone buy from you?”
Your target market is the group of people that you will ideally be selling your product or services to.
Not every product or service will be applicable or desired by everyone.
There is a target market for basically every business out there.
For example, Facebook now has a much older target market than Instagram or Tik Tok.
Your grandparents probably have a facebook now…
But chances are, they aren’t using instagram, and potentially don’t even know what Tik Tok is.
That’s because Instagram and TikTok aren’t being marketed to the older generations.
When you’ve chosen your business model, you will need to decide what the best target market for that business will be.
This will have an affect on many of the future decisions you make for your new company as you move forward with branding and marketing in the future.
3. Write a Simple Business Plan
Another important step to proving that you’re serious about starting your business, and you aren’t just messing around, is to write a business plan.
I can guarantee you that if you take the time to write out a thoroughly researched business plan and present it to your parents…
They will probably lay off hounding you about turning in those job applications when they realize how serious and passionate you are about the business you plan to start.
A business plan is a key element to any entrepreneur’s journey to success.
Not only does a business plan set clear written goals for the direction and organization of a business…
But it also sets up entrepreneur’s to apply for small business loans and even seek the help of investors when and if the time comes.
Most traditional business plans are extremely long.
Like 30-50 pages long.
But if that number makes you start to sweat…
It probably isn’t necessary for you to pump out a 30+ page business plan for your very first business endeavor.
You really just need to have the basics.
Although you may need to apply for outside funding or bring in investors when and if your business takes off…
The main goal right now is to get all your plans on paper in an organized and professional way that will keep you on track towards your goals for the future.
You can always come back to your business plan in the future and bulk it up a little if you need to.
Here are the basics of what you should include in your first business plan:
Business Plan Basics:
4. Business Structure and Taxes
Believe it or not, even teenage business owners have to pay taxes.
If they make more than $400 in a year, that is.
Which I’m sure you have high hopes of making way more than just $400!
Learning about structuring your business and paying taxes is something best learned sooner rather than later.
Mainly because the IRS won’t care if you’re only sixteen years old.
They’re going to expect your business to be operating legally and paying the required taxes.
You have a couple different options when it comes to structuring your business.
The three main categories for business structures are:
Chances are, if you’re just starting out, you won’t need an S Corp.
This is the most complex business structure, and there is a very slim chance that you would need one.
An LLC is a great choice if you are going into business for yourself of the first time and want a basic level of legal protection for yourself.
The Sole Proprietorship is the default business structure.
If you choose to do nothing and just start out your business without forming an LLC, you will automatically be classified as a Sole P.
Which might be perfectly fine if you aren’t bringing in a lot of money to begin with, but it can get tricky because there are no legal protections for businesses structured as an S Corp.
Learning about the different business structures for your business and preparing to pay estimated quarterly taxes can be a little bit confusing and complicated at first.
I recommend involving a parent or guardian in this process, as you will need their help practically...
And potentially even legally if you choose to form an LLC for your new business.
5. Equipment and Skills
If you’re starting a business as a teenager, you might not need as much equipment as you might think.
Especially if the business model you’ve chosen to start with is a service based business.
But even so, most businesses cannot be started without some amount of equipment and skills.
Hopefully, you already have the skills that you need to get started...
But you are probably going to need to learn some new ones along the way.
Even if you’re starting a cleaning business and all you need to buy at first are some disinfectant wipes, a mop, and some gloves…
You might have to learn some new skills to build a website for your cleaning business.
So even though you don’t need to suddenly become a master graphic designer…
A trademark of entrepreneurship is having to wear multiple hats and learn a variety of different skills.
Many of which don’t apply directly to the industry they were trying to go into!
Welcome to the world of being a small business owner.
As your business starts to grow, you can begin to hire out the work that you aren’t skilled at doing, or that you don’t enjoy.
But in the beginning it’s going to be up to you to be the CEO, CFO, COO, marketing director, sales person, social media manager, graphic designer, and probably even the main employee for your business.
Before you even make your first sale, sit down and make a list of everything you will need to run your business and how much it will cost.
Also take inventory of the skills you will either need to have or learn to make your business a success.
A lot of times, you can actually learn these skills for free online!
There is an almost infinite amount of knowledge available for the teen entrepreneur on Youtube.
You can basically learn everything from affiliate marketing and graphic design to investing in the stock market solely from Youtube videos…
But if you are still coming up short in the skills department, there are also very affordable training courses on platforms like Skillshare and Udemy that can teach you what you might need to know.
6. Startup Funding
Now that you have brainstormed for ideas, chosen your business model, identified your USP, written a business plan, and even learned some new skills…
It’s time to get your startup funding.
If you’re wondering if you can start a business as a teenager for no money…
I have bad news for you.
Because you can’t.
You may be able to start your business for very little money…
But to make money, you’ve got to spend money.
So if you’ve ever heard that phrase before and rolled your eyes, welcome to the club.
It’s frustrating, but true.
Fortunately, there are several options for raising your startup capital for your business.
If you are legally old enough to get a traditional job, it might not be a bad idea to consider working a job to save up all money to pour into your business idea.
A lot of successful entrepreneurs worked full time jobs while developing their businesses on the side.
Since you probably don’t have the responsibilities and bills of an adult yet…
You could literally save almost every dollar that you make from an after school job and use it to get your company off the ground.
But if this isn’t an option for you yet, you could also consider these fundraising ideas:
You can also take some non traditional approaches, like mowing lawns in your neighborhood for a whole summer, or even babysitting for several months.
But if you run out of options within the circle of people that you know, crowdfunding can be great option.
Crowdfunding websites allow you to pitch your business idea to the world, and people who are excited about what you are doing can pledge money towards your startup costs.
Some great crowdfunding websites to look into are:
7. Create a Website and Marketing Your Business
Creating a website for your business is a very exciting step.
This is when everything finally starts to sink and feel real…
You are on your way to running your own business as a teenager!
This is something you should be very proud of.
Your website is the very first step towards marketing your business.
Fortunately, building a website is easier than ever before.
You don’t have to know a lot about coding or graphic design to create your own website from scratch.
There are some really awesome options out there for drag-and-drop template based website builders that are extremely easy to use.
Especially if you are already fairly tech savvy.
My personal favorites are:
Once you have your website built, you can move on to other marketing strategies.
The biggest one, and probably the most obvious, is social media.
Which as a teenager, should be the easiest step on this entire list.
Teenagers are the pros of social media…
So hopefully you feel perfectly in your element on this one.
Choose 2-3 social media platforms to market your business on, but make sure those platforms are being actively used by your target audience.
The entire goal of marketing is to get your business in front of people who will want to buy from you!
You should also create a set of business cards to pass out to the people that you know, or who you meet that would be interested in your business.
If you want to try some traditional face to face networking for your business, look into your local chamber of commerce.
The chamber of commerce is a gathering of your local business community.
You will be able to learn a lot about being a small business owner by becoming involved in the chamber, plus it will spread awareness of your business and brand.
8. Creative Business Ideas for Teens
Ultimately, you don’t have a business without an idea.
So, if you’re still scratching your head for what you could possibly turn into a business as a teenager…
Here are some great ideas to get you started in the right direction.
Remember, the most important aspect of starting a business as a teen is to blend your passion and skills with something that will add value to the world.
Creative Business Ideas:
9. Mindset of an Entrepreneur
Lastly, remember that starting a business for the first time won’t be easy.
Most successful entrepreneurs don’t strike gold on their first try.
Multiple failed attempts are the trademark of some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world.
Failure is nothing to be afraid of.
In fact, it’s something that you should start to get comfortable with.
- It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.
― J.K. Rowling‧ Author of the Harry Potter series
Not because you are somehow destined to be a failure, but because failure is an invaluable teacher.
The business that you start as a teenager doesn’t have to be perfect.
Developing the mindset of an entrepreneur through trial and error will set you up for great success as a small business owner over time.
So don’t call it quits if you first idea doesn’t take off overnight.
You’ve got all the time in the world, right?
If you’re just a teenager starting out, you have the rest of your life to start successful businesses and workshop your ideas.
Put in the work, grow your business skills, and the results will come.
Pros and Cons
of starting a business as a teenager
Starting a Business as a Teenager Can Be Profitable, But Lead Generation is Better, Here's Why:
If you find yourself passionate about business and entrepreneurship as a teenager, you might also be familiar with a little term called passive income.
But if you aren’t...
Passive income is the ability to let your money work for you, rather than being a slave to your money.
Essentially, passive income frees you from trading your time for money.
If you truly want to be successful in business, you need to start learning the art of passive income as early as you can.
This is the key to becoming a successful entrepreneur versus just another small business owner chained to their desk.
Even as a teenager you can start earning passive income!
Although I’ve personally tried multiple passive income models from dropshipping to affiliate marketing…
My personal success has been through local lead generation.
This is the business model that I absolutely swear by, and the one that took me from hardly making 2K per month to making over 50K per month in a matter of only five years!
And guess what?
Even a teenager can do it.
The basic principles of online lead generation are very simple.
This fancy term is simply the process of using Google and basic SEO strategies to generate a consistent supply of new leads for small businesses!
And once you have your lead generation websites up and running…
It becomes passive income.
It’s like having real estate properties…
Except they’re online.
If you’re interested in how you can get started with lead generation as a teenger…
Check this out: