As a teenager, you’re probably trying to save money for college, your first car, or to hang out and travel with friends at your own expense. Unfortunately, a job at a fast-food restaurant doesn’t seem to cut it — hence the labor shortage. Plus, with a recession looming and inflation high, saving money is all the more important.
But thanks to the limitless resources online, there are many small business ideas for teens like you — someone in the “entrepreneur generation” — to choose from.
As a young entrepreneur, virtual small businesses provide the opportunity to strengthen your skills, deep dive into your passion, and create a schedule that aligns with your values and lifestyle. And as a result, you’ll be able to make the money you deserve and have the freedom to purchase and save for the things that are valuable to you.
1. Become a TikTok influencer
You can make a ton of money by being an influencer on one of the fast-growing social media platforms — TikTok. From consistently sharing short clips of a hobby or skill promoting products on behalf of companies, TikToking is just one of many small business ideas for teens.
According to Viral Nation, the number of followers you have on TikTok is essential to your potential earnings, and the same applies to platforms like Instagram.
For a micro-influencer or someone with 10,000 - 50,000 followers, Vox reports that you can expect to earn $40,000 to $100,000 per year.
Skai Jackson is a 19-year old TikToker who’s been acting since the age of five. Bringing her entertainment skills to TikTok, creating entertaining and promotional content for brands like Kiehl’s, is how she now has over 19 million followers.
To put her TikTok income into perspective, when Will Smith had 12.5 million TikTok followers, he made up to six figures per brand deal. So with 19.1 million under her belt, Skai Jackson and many other young entrepreneurs on TikTok are doing well for themselves.
2. Record product reviews or unboxing videos on YouTube
Whether you use a smartphone, laptop, or digital camera, creating product reviews or unboxing videos on YouTube — the world's second-largest search engine — is pretty simple. It requires little to no preparation or advanced skills and allows you to express your opinions to other shoppers.
But before you can generate income from recording review-and-unboxing YouTube videos, you must first build a following. To get started, join The Creator Academy — a YouTube program that helps you grow your channel and attract more viewers.
Lewis Hilsenteger has a YouTube channel called Unbox Therapy. He showcases the latest and greatest gadgets and technologies and attracts millions of viewers.
According to Influencer Marketing Hub, on average, a YouTube channel can receive $18 per 1,000 ad views, which equates to $3 - $5 per 1,000 video views. In Hilsenteger’s case, some of his videos reach up to 20 million views.
As a young entrepreneur, following in Hilsenteger’s footsteps is one of many entrepreneurial paths you can go down.
3. Start a niche podcast series
If you have an outspoken personality and are passionate about a specific topic, start a podcast to express your knowledge and perspective in a specific niche.
You can build a target audience to network and engage with through a niche podcast. Engage with your audience on social media, share a monthly newsletter about upcoming topics and episodes, and encourage subscribers to like, share, and review your content to spread the word and grow.
Once you have a solid group of subscribers and listeners, you'll start to profit from talking about your passion. To increase revenue, consider partnering with sponsors. In addition, you can incorporate affiliate marketing into your episodes. Affiliate marketers refer listeners to companies and then earn money after they make a purchase.
The Next Generation Podcast is a show hosted by Connor Gross and Giovanni Assalone — 24-year-old serial entrepreneurs. They interview some of the most ambitious Gen-Z and millennials shaping the future.
One of the young entrepreneurs they have on their show is Flips 4 Miles. Miles hopped on an episode to talk about how he went from selling 200 pairs of shoes in his dorm room to flipping more than $100,000 worth of products every month on Amazon.
Another example of teen podcast hosts is Teenager Therapy — which was recently featured in the New York Times and Wired. As a group of five, Gael, Mark, Thomas, Kayla, and Isaac cover topics teenagers can relate to. From discussions about body-shaming, young love, and sexuality, the show has been very successful.
With over 63K followers on Instagram, over 243K on TikTok, and a focus on mental health, they partner with related bands to create ads. Overall, podcast hosts can earn $15 - $30 per 1,000 downloads from sponsorships. And more popular shows can generate much more than that. One, in particular, that Teenage Therapy partners with is Headspace — a leading meditation app. You can listen to the ad at beginning of this episode they released on World Mental Health Day.
4. Freelance your graphic design skills
As someone new in the field or just starting, freelancing your graphic design skills to individuals and companies is a great way to grow in your career. You’ll build and diversify your portfolio, plus network with a range of clients— all while making money.
Before you expose yourself to prospects, equip yourself with the right tools like Adobe Photoshop, which includes graphic design software to assist with your creations. And if you have any existing projects, put them together in a portfolio to build credibility.
In addition, create a profile on Upwork, Fiverr, 99Designs.com, or any legitimate freelance service marketplace to make yourself known. Across the different freelance platforms, share your skills, rates, level of expertise, and services your offer. When looking for clients, connect with authors, product creators, and new business owners getting started with branding.
Le-an Lai Lacaba is a graphic artist who has been working from home since the age of 15. Le-an became a graphic artist at the age of 17. She provides step-by-step tips on how you, too, can help business owners bring their visions to life through your graphics.
She offers insight into types of digital art you can create, such as social media graphics, book covers, postcards and websites.
5. Write content for startup companies
If you have a passion for writing and would love to get real-world experience, consider writing for startups. As you gain exposure to startup companies, you’ll expand your intelligence in each subject matter, be an essential part of the team’s growth as you write on their behalf, and build credibility. As a result, you’ll be compensated well for your contributions.
Send effective cold emails to startup businesses that may not have an existing or substantial blog section on their site or social media presence. Startups tend to have smaller budgets; therefore, they may be more willing to work with young entrepreneurs — like you — with less experience.
To get ahead of the competition, research your marketing by:
- Finding the top competitors of the startups you want to connect with.
- Seeing what content they are posting.
- Looking at what's working and what's not.
6. Stream video games on Twitch
Twitch is a fast-growing streaming platform with annual revenue of $1.54 billion. If you’re passionate about gaming and skilled enough to have viewers watch you play, you can get a piece of the action.
According to Statista, Twitch is an ideal platform for young entrepreneurs. At the end of the third quarter in 2021, they found that 50% of active Twitch users in the U.S. fall between 18 and 29 years old. So, you’ll be connecting with like-minded peers.
Black Girl Gamers, for example, is a Twitch community with 7,000+ black female gamers. It runs gaming events regularly — advocating for inclusivity in the gaming industry. It also promotes a range of talented streamers through its channel for others to watch. Some streamers in the group include SheGamerxo and FindingKyky.
As a young entrepreneur on Twitch, your income can vary depending on how much time you spend playing. Business of Apps estimates that professional streamers can make an average of $3,000 to $5,000 per month. Those numbers are generated through Twitch’s affiliate program — playing 40 hours a week.
A website with a “wow” factor can help young entrepreneurs stand out
Whatever you decide to sell or do, a robust website can help you kickstart your business, build an audience and attract more clients.
Studies show that, on average, consumers form an opinion about a website in the first 50 milliseconds. After that, they'll decide if they want to continue engaging with your site or move on to the next. With this in mind, you'll want to make an excellent first impression to keep visitors engaged with your site.
With the help of GoDaddy's Website Builder, you'll be well equipped to build a solid foundation, a unique reputation and grow your entrepreneurial business in no time.