April 12, 2024

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Supportive Business Potential

10 Best Business Ideas for Teens to Start This Summer

10 Best Business Ideas for Teens to Start This Summer

Whether it’s saving up for college or a new gaming system, teenagers are always looking for new ways to make money. While part-time jobs in retail or food service are still popular, young people are becoming more interested in entrepreneurship as a career after high school — and many are already getting started.

After all, being your own boss can offer more balance and flexibility, two important values for Gen Z entering the workforce. And it’s not just about money — entrepreneurial experiences can equip teens with valuable career skills, giving them an edge in a competitive job market.

So, as the school year nears its end, let’s explore some summer business ideas for teens and why entrepreneurship might be the best way to spend their time off.

Why Should Teens Start a Business?

“Entrepreneurs drive innovation and job creation in our economy by recognizing fresh opportunities in the market,” says Greg Wise, Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s managing director of national workforce readiness. “Youth entrepreneurship can be a rewarding experience for teenagers. As part of our focus on workforce readiness, many Boys & Girls Clubs offer youth the opportunity to engage in Club enterprises, from participating in a culinary arts program with food trucks and catering to launching their own fashion line.”

Here are a few reasons why teens should consider starting a business in middle school or high school:

Langston H. selling one of his t-shirt designs to Big Sean. Image courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan.Langston H. selling one of his t-shirt designs to Big Sean. Image courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan.
  • Transform interests into money-making opportunities – Langston H., a Club member at Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, did just that. At 13 years-old, Langston created his own clothing line, as part of his Club’s youth entrepreneurship program. His designs even appeared at New York Fashion Week — proving how a young person’s hobby can open doors to future opportunities.
  • Develop skills and work experience – Being in charge of a business teaches teens problem-solving, leadership, project management and other essential skills for resumés. It can also help them explore career paths, build professional networks and stand out on college or job applications.
  • Jessa S. modeling her t-shirt design. Image courtesy of the Jessa Skye Collection.Jessa S. modeling her t-shirt design. Image courtesy of the Jessa Skye Collection.
  • Learn money management – Entrepreneurship is an engaging way to teach young people the value of money, budgeting and financial responsibility.
  • Raise awareness for causes – Having their own business can provide young people with a platform to advocate for causes they care about. At Boys & Girls Club of Malibu, Jessa S. designs and sells chemical-free, UV-protective clothing to raise awareness for endangered animals with partial proceeds benefiting wildlife restoration efforts.
  • Boost confidence and independence – Finally, starting a business can inspire confidence in young people, encouraging them to see value in their ideas, creativity and ability to set and achieve important goals.

What Makes a Good Business Idea for Teens?

Teens today have a lot going on. A good business idea for teens will align with their schedule, skills and available resources. Here are four questions teens can ask themselves to help set their small business up for success:

  1. What are your skills and interests?
    Is there something specific that you’re good at and enjoy doing? Building your business around something you enjoy increases your likelihood of sticking with it.
  2. Who do you want your business to serve?
    Pinpoint your target community and focus on meeting a need that people in it are willing to pay for.
  3. Is your business idea doable?
    A teen business idea should be realistic and achievable — from fitting into your schedule to the costs associated. Also consider if you’re going to need help and what that might look like.
  4. Who do you know that’s already successful?
    Connect with professional entrepreneurs who are killing it in your field of business. Get their advice or tap into their networks and resources to strengthen your business.

10 Best Business Ideas for Teens

Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington teens created a pop-up store to sell homemade scented candles with proceeds benefiting teen programming. Image courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington, Ind.Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington teens created a pop-up store to sell homemade scented candles with proceeds benefiting teen programming. Image courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington, Ind.

Teens are exceptionally creative today, with small business dreams going beyond the traditional lemonade stand. Check out these creative business ideas for teens to help build an entrepreneurial mindset (and their savings account).

Parents and caregivers should work with teens on their plans for bringing ideas to life, including discussing personal and internet safety, security of any digital platforms used, etc.

Business Ideas for Teens Looking to Sell

  1. Sell Homemade Arts, Crafts & Designs

  2. Age Level: 15+ (recommended for online safety)
    From candles and t-shirts to jewelry or decorative cellphone cases, young people can make and sell all kinds of handcrafted goods for extra cash. Help set your teen up as a vendor at local craft fairs or farmers markets or create an online store through ecommerce platforms like Etsy or Shopify.

  3. Sell Outgrown or Unwanted Stuff

    Age Level: 15+ (recommended for online safety)
    Have items unused, outgrown or gathering dust in your house? Have teens consider downsizing possessions or leading a family effort to purge unneeded items. Whether selling their own items or getting a percentage for organizing a household sale, teens can host a yard sale or post items online on ecommerce sites/apps like eBay or Mercari.

  4. Buy & Flip Items

    Age Level: 13+
    For the teen who loves thrifting, finding and flipping (or re-selling) items can be a fun, rewarding way to earn extra cash. Have teens take charge by hunting for the right items at thrift stores or garage sales and sprucing them up to resell to a different market (either online or in person within their social networks).

Club kids and teens playing patty-cake

Hourly Business Ideas for Teens

Be sure to discuss safety protocols with your child around engaging one-on-one with other adults for their business. Teen entrepreneurs may also need to fill out their own income tax return, depending on their earnings.

  1. Tutoring

  2. Age Level: 13+
    If your teen has a particular talent or knack for teaching, encourage them to tutor other kids in academic subjects or skillsets. Teens can establish their own hourly rate for one-on-one tutoring sessions in areas like SAT/ACT prep, learning languages such as Spanish or American Sign Language (ASL), or skills like coding or a musical instrument.

  3. Babysitting

    Age Level: 13+ (check state law)
    If your teen is used to watching over their younger siblings or good at entertaining young kids, they might just be a natural babysitter. Help them connect with neighbors, family friends or their friends’ families to babysit kids or their friends’ younger siblings. They’ll be able to set their own schedule and earn a steady stream of income by building relationships with clients.

  4. Pet Care

    Age Level: 13+
    Taking care of other people’s pets is the perfect side hustle for teen animal lovers! Like babysitting, support your teen with building a roster of clients within their social networks. Teens can also offer a range of pet care services to expand their value such as: pet sitting, dog walking, pet grooming or pet cage cleaning.

  5. Yard & Cleaning Services

    Age Level: 13+
    Not surprisingly, money is a great incentive to get teens to clean. Unlike their regular chores, teens who offer cleaning services have the flexibility to pick and choose between the types of cleaning they offer, such as: washing cars, doing yardwork, or cleaning pools or aquariums. It’s a great way to burn a few hours on weekends and walk away with some extra cash.

Club teens working on a projectImage courtesy of Boys & Girls Club of Santa Fe, N.M.

Digital & Online Business Ideas for Teens

  1. Photography & Videography

  2. Age Level: 15+
    Is your teen constantly snapping pics and videos for Instagram? Have them use their documentation skills to capture important occasions like birthday parties, family reunions, baby/wedding showers or community events. Teens can set their own rates and promote their services on social media or word-of-mouth. They can also sell their photos directly online through apps like Foap and Shutterstock.

  3. Digital Content Creation

    Age Level: 18+ (recommended for youth safety)
    Yes, this is one of the ultimate dream careers for Gen Z! If your teen loves creating digital content, they might enjoy setting up their own account dedicated to video game or book reviews, DIY craft or beauty tutorials, and more. For example, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington alum Khalil Greene made a name for himself as “the Gen Z Historian,” sharing history and culture on TikTok and Instagram. Keep in mind that this is not an immediate cash-earner, but what may start as a fun hobby just might grow into a money-making opportunity.

  4. Digital Freelance for Small Businesses

    Age Level: 14+
    Tech-savvy teen entrepreneurs can reach out to small businesses directly or through apps like Fiverr to offer freelance services in digital content creation. This might be designing graphics on Canva or writing and scheduling posts on branded social channels. It’s also a smart way to score job references from professional businesses!

There’s no better time to start a small business than in your teens, with low risks and high energy. Pass on these ideas to the young entrepreneur in your life. Just remind them to stay curious, determined and open to learning, and they’ll be on their way to turning their business dreams into a reality. Good luck!

Ignite the Potential of Tomorrow’s Leaders & Change-makers

Boys & Girls Clubs of America provides caring adult mentors and life-shaping programs to millions of kids and teens each year. In safe, inclusive places, youth build the skills and resilience to thrive in school, the workplace and in life. Join us on our mission of helping all young people reach their full potential: