Unique Business IDEAS for Teenagers
Carly and her sister, Hannah, had a goal to buy an iPod. They planned to earn money by knitting scarves and selling them to friends and neighbors. When they brought samples of their wares to our homeschool co-op, the parents were pleased with the scarves and impressed by the girls’ initiative. I had no doubt that they would reach their goal, especially when parents started requesting custom designs! Little did Carly and Hannah realize that they had just started a micro business.
Do you want to encourage your teenager to earn some cash by starting a business? Micro businesses are a great option, because a teenager can make money and learn a lot yet still manage schoolwork and a social life.
A micro business . . .
• Is simple and fast to start up.
• Has no employees. There is only one worker, the owner.
• Needs little start-up money. Most use what is already on hand.
• Is usually home-based.
• Is low-risk. A teenager wants to make money, not lose it!
• Offers flexibility. A teenager can still have a social life, participate in sports, attend youth group meetings, and finish his homework while maintaining a micro business.
• Finally, a micro business lets a teenager learn life skills while earning money.
Micro businesses start with an idea that meets a need. Brainstorm a few ideas with your teenager and see what strikes his or her fancy. Look for unmet needs among your friends and neighbors. Usually, the best micro business ideas come from personal talents or skills, such as playing an instrument or fixing a computer. Other micro businesses offer a new twist on an old idea, such as an innovative babysitting service. Just remember that a micro business is not a major commitment. It is an opportunity to try out something new to make some money. Even by having only one customer, a teenager can discover a new interest and a source of income.
My daughter Sarah decided to try her hand at web design and created a site for our hair stylist. She was paid $70 for designing a very simple website, using free software. So far, Sarah has had only one website customer. Her interests have shifted to something new, photography, but she enjoyed trying web design as a micro business.
1. Child Care
The time-honored profession of teenagers is babysitting, but a micro business can offer something new or different. A unique twist to a typical babysitting job might be to add extra services, such as doing laundry, pet walking, or light housecleaning for an extra fee. Or a teenager could offer to babysit regularly. One teenager made her babysitting micro business unique by advertising to neighbors that she was hosting a regular babysitting service every Tuesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. in her home. Her customers could plan ahead knowing they had childcare available that evening.
Karen (Spunky Homeschool) Braun’s daughter, Kristin, combined her love of reading and childcare. She assembled a small group of children and, during a two-hour block of time, read them a story, planned a craft, and fed them a snack. She charged $5 per child per week, offered a sibling discount, and averaged earnings of $45 per family during a six-week summer mini-camp.
2. Lawn Care
Lawn mowing, mulch spreading. and snow shoveling are great micro business ideas. A teenager may already have the equipment he needs to get started. If not, he or she should purchase only what is needed initially.
Using savings from a paper route, Lucas Rice bought his first riding lawn mower at a garage sale when he was 12. As his business grew, he was able to buy more equipment. “Allow your business to grow, and then grow your equipment into your business, ” he advises.
It’s not a pleasant job, but houses, garages, yards, cars, and pets all need to be cleaned at some point. Some clever teenagers sell coupon books of cleaning services or offer to wash a neighbor’s car on a regular basis, say once a week for six weeks, in a package deal. One family with five daughters trades housecleaning for piano lessons. As one student has her piano lesson, the others clean the teacher’s house. Everyone is happy with the results of the trade.
4. Pet Care
Walking dogs, ridding the yard of their messes, and pet sitting for neighbors on vacation are great ideas. There is a man in my town who charges $10 per yard to clean up after a dog. It is not the nicest job in the world, but it could be a great option for a teenager or even a pre-teen.
My friends, the Wonsers, care for other people’s pets while they are away from home. They keep the pets at their home in their large backyard. The Wonsers have rabbit hutches and dog runs to keep their animal guests safe and happy. Your family could house rabbits, cats, or dogs for friends on vacation in a home-based pet hotel.
There are several potential micro businesses for musicians, such as giving lessons, accompanying, and performing. Is your teenager a drummer? Eric Cieslewicz, a teenager in Ohio, teaches eight drum students every week. A teenager can use his knowledge of any instrument to teach children in a micro business.
Pianists are always in demand as accompanists for events or performances. My daughter, Emily, was paid for her time to rehearse and perform as an accompanist to a teenage cello player who was participating in a school music competition.
Some talented musicians are paid to play at weddings or social gatherings. Harpists, violinists, and pianists are the most popular types of musicians requested, but garage bands can also be paid for a gig.
Teenagers can tutor students in many school subjects, such as math, grammar, or Spanish. They make excellent tutors because they have recently studied the subjects themselves. My oldest daughter was hired to tutor a 14-year-old girl in study skills to help prepare her for high school.
But tutoring does not have to be limited to academic subjects. Teaching art, swimming, and sewing all lend themselves to great micro business ventures. Your teenager might consider teaching a small group of children simultaneously to maximize income.
7. eBay or Garage Sale Assistant
An ambitious teenager offered to sell his neighbors’ stuff on eBay and took a 25% a cut for himself. As a garage sale assistant, a teenager could advertise, organize, and run a garage sale for friends or neighbors. If he gathered several neighbors together, he could really earn the bucks! Another idea is to combine decluttering, hosting a garage sale, and eBay assistance into a full package to help neighbors profit from the sale of their excess belongings.