One of the rites of passage for most teenagers in America is getting their first summer jobs in between semesters at school. Traditionally, that meant getting a menial gig at a fast food restaurant or, if you were lucky, a retail sales position in a store at the local mall. With the advent of Internet sites which allow online teen businesses to be started quickly, and sites which offer free advertising for meat-space businesses, it may be possible to forego these low paying student jobs and start making money while flexing some entrepreneurial muscle. This article will explore a few teen business ideas that require very little investment but a lot of creativity.
Online sales is a multi-billion dollar-per-year industry, and is one of the best teen business ideas out there as it requires very little start up money and is easy to get rolling. First, set up a seller account at eBay or Amazon (or both!) along with a Paypal account with your parents’ help (they may need to provide credit card or banking information). The Paypal account is where your customers will send you the money for your sales on Ebay. Next, find articles to sell. People on eBay buy the darndest things, so check for any old autographs, collectible toys, cool posters, or unused power tools (ask your dad) that are in good condition and that you think people might want to purchase. For many items such as CDs and books, you can post them for free on Amazon, but they take a bigger piece of your sales price as commission. For both sites, follow listing instructions carefully, be truthful with your descriptions, and wait for the orders to come in. Make sure you process orders quickly, and I recommend shipping with Delivery Confirmation always (if you are using regular mail) to ensure the package arrives as expected. Keep track of your transactions, as good recordkeeping is a must for next year at tax time.
Babysitting – Improve Your Skill Set and Earn More
Ah yes, the tried and true high school job for many a teenage girl (and sometimes boy) involves supervising children in some shape or form. These days, however, babysitting tends to pay a little better than most traditional teen jobs. This is especially true if you can prove a higher degree of value, such as being CPR certified, adding tutoring services, cooking for the little ones, etc. Word-of-mouth is generally the best advertising medium for your services, but don’t neglect putting up a free ad on Craigslist (always go with an adult to your initial interview to meet the family) or setting up a free Google website to promote yourself. As a service industry, you do not have to charge sales tax in most jurisdictions, but check with your local tax department to see requirements in your area.
Mobile DJ/Party Service
This one takes a bit more effort, but it can turn into a lucrative business if you build up a following and are professional. You don’t need thousands of dollars worth of special equipment to start off; with your laptop and some cheap DJ software, a used DJ mixer (or an inexpensive one from a starter brand such as Gemini or Radio Shack), and couple of PA speakers (or maybe even a decent guitar amp), you can be in business. If you really want to spice things up, invest in a microphone for announcements and maybe a cool party light. What counts as a DJ are the tunes you play and your personality, but you have to let people know about what you do.
Put up a Craiglist ad, set up a free Google site, and tell all your friends you are a DJ. Print up some business cards at home and give them out at parties that you attend. You may want to partner up with a buddy on your gigs to help you take breaks and set up/break down equipment. At first, you may have to do parties for free or for $20 for the whole event, but as word spreads, you will start to get more and more gigs and the money can be REALLY good (a professional mobile DJ usually makes a minimum of $50 per hour for private events, and can make thousands for corporate events or luxury weddings when he/she hits it big). As high school jobs go, being a mobile DJ is probably one of the funnest!
Build a Buzz
Marketing is extremely important for any business, so make sure you are using Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and any other social networking sites you are a member of to create a buzz about you and your services/products. Let friends and family know what you do or what you are selling. And remember to have fun!