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5 Tips for Teen Entrepreneurs

5 Tips for Teen Entrepreneurs

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It’s harder to find jobs in today’s tough economy. If you need to earn money over the summer or after school, why not become your own boss?

Here are 5 tips on starting your own business:

  1. Identify a need. Think about the kinds of services that might do well in your area. If you live in a suburb and your neighbors commute long distances to work, they may need dog walking help. Pet sitting is another good line of business during the summer or over the holidays when people travel. If there are lots of senior citizens in your area, a computer help business might do well.

    Keep your ears open for opportunities. If you have your license and you hear your mom’s friend talking about how her kids need to be picked up at the same time from different places, suggest she hire you to help. You also can offer to pick up anything from groceries to dry cleaning, or clean anything from windows to cars.

  2. Set a price for services. Once you know what you want to do, figure out how much to charge. Search online to see what others charge for the service you plan to provide. Teens often have an advantage: Less experience means you may be able to charge less, making your business more competitive.
  3. Advertise. Print flyers describing the services your business offers. List your rates and your phone number or email address. (Check with your parents before you do this, of course!) Drop off a flyer at every house in your neighborhood. Give some to parents to take to work. Ask local stores or coffee shops if you can post a flyer on their community notice board (if you do this, make a bunch of tabs along the bottom with the service you offer and a phone number, so people can tear one off instead of taking the entire flyer).

    You also might be able to use sites like CraigsList to advertise your services — as well as look for customers who might need you. If you do look for opportunities online, though, keep a parent involved in what you’re doing.

  4. Organize your work. Once you have clients, you’ll need to keep track of them. You don’t want to forget to walk someone’s dog because you were feeding someone else’s fish. Buy a calendar and write down every job you do each day and the time you’ll do it. Keeping a calendar also reminds you of how many times you provided a service so you can bill your clients. A parent, teacher, or school counselor can help you get started on business planning. Who knows, your business may grow so fast that you’ll have to hire friends to help!
  5. CYB: Cover Your Business. If you drive for work, you’ll want to be sure you have insurance — especially if you’ll be driving other people’s cars or transporting their kids. You’ll also need to look into any coverage you might need for taking care of other people’s property or pets. Ask a parent, school counselor, or teacher for advice. If you’re lucky (and skillful!) and your business brings in a lot of money, talk to your parents about whether you might need to pay taxes.

With a little preparation, running your own business can bring great rewards, in both money and experience.

Reviewed by: Neil Izenberg, MD
Date reviewed: August 2012