I have talked about small business ideas for kids before.
With the unemployment rate, especially among teens, being as high as it is now, entrepreneurship seems to be the best way of making money.
Despite the improving unemployment figures, many adults are still finding it tough to get a job that uses their talents in the current marketplace.
How much more difficult is it for teens, then, who have yet to prove their talents and establish themselves in the job market?
The fact is that out of necessity many adults are taking lower paid jobs for which they are overqualified, and these are the entry-level jobs which teens would have taken in the past.
No wonder the teen unemployment figures are higher than the average!
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Some might say that teens generally have a home and a supporting family to look after them, so they need jobs less; but what teen doesn’t want to save up for a car, earn some money towards college, or even earn enough to move out when the time comes?
One answer is for teens to turn in the same direction as many adults have in this difficult economy, and set up a home business operation.
Here are some small business ideas that teens can start with no or very little money:
What will I learn?
1. Make and Sell Candles
One of the easiest and most fun home based businesses, especially for teens, is making and selling candles.
It is relatively cheap to buy the supplies and start making candles at home.
And candles can be tremendously varied, as a simple Internet search will prove, allowing anyone to find a method and design that suits them.
Candles can be made from beeswax, regular white or colored wax, can have scent added, and can be molded or carved in various ways. With some imagination, you can even come up with unique ideas and make candles that aren’t readily available in the market.
Depending what sort of candles you make, you have a variety of places that you can market them. You can try selling directly on the Internet, via a website or on eBay, or you can occupy a stall at local craft shows.
There are also craft shops that may be interested in taking on a new supply of candles that are different from their current range.
This is an activity that might even become a full-time job.
2. Make & Sell Handmade Jewelry
Making jewelry is another business that is easy to do from home, though it may require a little more investment than the candle making business.
But the amount it costs can be kept down, at least in the beginning, by avoiding expensive materials like gold and precious gems and buying the right kind of jewelry making supplies. Silver and decorative materials like glass beads can be assembled imaginatively to create attractive designs that sell.
You will need to learn about jewelry making, and it won’t be as easy as learning candle making. But there is a good supply of books on the subject as well as information online.
If you have a creative eye and practice the craft, there’s no reason why you can’t make some good money from selling handmade jewelry.
3. Sell on Etsy
If you are creative, but not necessarily for making jewelry or candles, you should look at selling things on Etsy.
This website is a shopfront for all types of art, including crafts, paper goods, and even jam.
Etsy charges a small fee, but in return will take care of the shopping cart and payment.
To get an idea of the types of things that are selling, take a look around the site then try and come up with your own unique twist on something.
You can sell anything that is handmade on Etsy – woodwork, handmade jewelry, metal work, painting, art, clothing…
4. Sell Stuff on eBay
Everyone accumulates things, and a teen swiftly outgrows some of them. Why not sell the unwanted goods on eBay, and at the same time clear your room?
Who knows, if you do a good job of it, others in your household may ask you to sell their goods for them, for a small charge.
Once the house is cleaned out, you can then look at sourcing things cheaply to resell on eBay. For instance, you might go to garage sales and thrift stores to pick up things that you know will sell.
5. Be a Social Media Assistant
Unlike many other jobs, social media assistant is one which will come naturally to most teens, and with which most businesses struggle.
All you have to do is know your way around social media, and offer your services to local businesses.
You can concentrate on one particular aspect, such as Instagram, or provide services across a range of media, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
The businesses will be looking for engagement with their customers, and creating the right sort of impression, so it is important to be professional in both your approach to the business and your social media posts on their behalf.
If you do well at school, why not offer your services tutoring younger students?
You can pass on what you know, helping the students and earning you money.
The work shouldn’t be too difficult, as it’s much easier for students to relate to someone of a similar age.
If schoolwork isn’t your strength, perhaps you could consider teaching something you are good at, such as playing guitar or using a computer. Many adults would also appreciate help setting up and using their own computers.
7. Doing Odd Jobs
Odd jobs are all around if you look for them. It could be running errands for someone, or picking up shopping. Perhaps you can cook and clean, and many people are prepared to pay for someone to do those tasks.
People often look for a “Go-fer” to pick up all those jobs that they just don’t have time to do.
Some jobs can bring in a regular income, such as keeping a garden tidy, and other jobs may be a one-off, like painting a room.
Once your name is out there in the neighborhood, and as long as you do a good job, you may be surprised what people would like you to do.
Of course, you can also advertise on Craigslist or by word-of-mouth in the neighborhood to find more opportunities.
One of the traditional jobs for a teen is babysitting. It can work out particularly well during school holidays when the teen is out of school and the neighborhood kids are off, as the parents have to keep working and need more assistance.
You’re not necessarily stuck in someone else’s house when you’re babysitting.
Depending on how much responsibility you want to take on, you can take kids out to the park or other activity and should expect to be paid more if you do this.
9. House-sitting/Pet Sitting
These are both responsible jobs, and you have to prove your reliability continually, by never letting anyone down.
Once again there are more opportunities during the summer months, as many people will go on vacation and want someone to keep an eye on their house, water pot plants, etc.
Pet sitting jobs can also come up while people are away, but you may be lucky enough to find a regular gig, walking a dog for someone who hasn’t got the time or inclination.
A Word on Taxes
No, this is not something you will do for someone else, but something you must remember to do for yourself.
Anytime you earn more than $400 in a year, you need to declare that to the IRS and pay any necessary taxes.
It’s not just tax for running the government, but also goes towards your Social Security and Medicare payments.
Don’t try to dodge this responsibility, as it will only get more awkward as you go along, and they’ll catch up with you in the end.
If you start off right, you’ll find that the IRS is very helpful, both on its website and in person if you call. Depending on how much you earn, you may not have to pay much tax anyway, so it’s worth keeping it straight.
It can be a great learning experience to run a small business, even if you only do it for a short time and intend to work in salaried employment all your life.
It teaches you a lot about many different aspects of life, and you will find that you learn a lot about yourself and your attitudes and biases.
Things don’t always go smoothly, and in overcoming the challenges that you face you will grow significantly in character and develop patience. Regardless of background or ambition, every teen would benefit from having some experience running a small business.