There’s that old saying, “It takes money to make money.” But how do you start a business if you don’t have money? It’s one thing if you’re an adult who has already been in the workforce for a while. They might have savings or credit cards they can use to start up a new enterprise.
What about teen entrepreneurs like you? How can you launch a startup with as little money as possible?
Here’s a list of 10 businesses you can start pretty much for free. Our advice is to jump in with one of these and save whatever you make, even if this isn’t your ideal job. After a little while, you should have enough to get started on your bigger dreams of entrepreneurship!
Get yourself a Venmo, PayPal, or Zelle account if you don’t already have one (you may need help from your parents to open a bank account in your name first). Or ask your parents if you can give out their Venmo, PayPal, or Zelle accounts and they can transfer the money to you. Then, choose one of these easy startups and make that money!
1. SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT
This is an ideal job for you savvy Gen Zers: get paid to post on social media! Larger corporations can afford to hire a full-time social media team, but smaller companies and startups might be glad to have any help. Offer your services to older entrepreneurs who might not be able to navigate Twitter and Snapchat with the ease you can. You may already know some small local business owners who can benefit from a more robust online presence.
2. RUNNING ERRANDS
After school and on weekends you can help your neighbors by running errands for them. New parents at home with tiny babies, the elderly, the sick, and others who have a hard time leaving the house will appreciate your services. It’s nice to have a driver’s license for something like this, but a bike works for picking up and delivering small packages (like diapers or meals). Make sure you set your rates and keep your delivery area to places you can reasonably get to on your own.
3. ONLINE TUTORING
All you need to get started as an online tutor is access to a computer and reliable internet. You don’t even need to be an expert in anything: parents of younger students will happily pay you to help their kids with homework. Are you in any AP classes? Even better! Elementary and middle school students don’t need someone with a Ph.D. in every subject, just a helpful older person who can help them catch up or get ahead.
4. CAR WASHING
Grab a bucket, sponges, and a towel, and you’ve got yourself a car washing service! Neighbors will pay you to come to their homes and wash their cars right there in their driveways. To really get going, bring a cordless vacuum for the interiors. Nothing too fancy to worry about here, but a basic car wash done in the comfort of one’s own home can be a surprisingly lucrative money-maker.
The old teenage standby endures for a reason. There are always little kids who need watching. Parents want to go out on weekends. Sometimes work-at-home parents need a helping hand after school. Other times, moms and dads just need a break during the week. You can be that babysitter all the neighborhood kids adore, and parents are always referring to one another. Bring fun kids’ books to read, games to play, and have fun!
6. DOG WALKING
Those of you who love animals can make easy money walking other people’s dogs. Since the school day ends before many adults get home from work – or if work-from-home adults don’t have time to take their dog out for long walks in the afternoons – you can provide a needed service. Even having one or two clients per day can add up to quite a bit of savings in a few short weeks.
7. ONLINE LOGO DESIGN
YouTubers. Minecraft server hosts. Small startups. People start businesses every day and they need professional-looking logos. Why can’t you be the young entrepreneur to design one? You don’t need tons of professional skills, just an eye for what grabs people’s attention. Not everyone can create complementary color palettes or has an eye for fonts. But maybe you do!
8. IN-HOME MUSIC LESSONS
Parents of up-and-coming young entrepreneurs really will pay you to come over and play the music you love. This is a win-win-win business for everyone: the parent doesn’t have to drive their child to and from a music lesson, the child gets to hang with a cool older kid, and you get paid! Don’t have your own transportation? Charge a little bit less money for parents to bring their kids to your house!
9. TRANSLATION SERVICE
Are you bilingual? Trilingual? A regular polyglot? Put that skill to work by starting a translating service. While you might not be qualified to translate things such as legal documents or medical records, there are plenty of people out there who just need help translating, say, a website or social media posts. Others might want to practice conversing with someone while they learn a new language.
10. PARTY PLANNING
You social butterflies who know all the hottest DJs in town, the most delicious pizza delivery, and the best bargains on balloons and decorations, can make money helping others plan their parties! We’re not talking 300-guest weddings. But for people throwing smaller gatherings at home, you’ve got this. Think of all the graduation parties, kids’ birthday parties, anniversary parties, and other occasions people will hire you for!
There’s no reason why you can’t take skills and interests you already have and turn them into a profit. With a little elbow grease and some savvy self-marketing, you can quickly set yourself up as a top young entrepreneur!
If you are a high school student in Florida with a passion for entrepreneurship, click here to find out more about the Kantner Foundation’s college scholarship program.