Last Thursday was summer solstice (6.21.2018), the first day of summer. This means it’s officially time for teenagers who haven’t been hired for a summer job to create their own jobs. Around here, we call that, “starting a small business.” But parents call it, “stop texting on that thing and go find a job.” Here are some small business ideas that can get teens thinking about jobs they can create for themselves. Some can turn into year-round gigs. Some can last a lifetime.


(First published on SmallBusiness.com on June 21, 2017)


1 | Lawn Care/Landscaping

While it’s probably too late to start mowing lawns this summer (mowing relationships started in the spring), homeowners and renters always need weeding and light landscape maintenance.

Talent or experience necessary: If you’ve never worked in your own yard, skip this suggestion.
Equipment needed: A few tools with names like clippers and loppers.
Marketing: Word of mouth, door-to-door, social media, and handing out fliers

2 | House/Pet Sitting/Walking

Pet owners will pay for just about anything that makes them feel that Fido is in good hands. If your parents will let you (and you don’t break any laws), the real money is in providing overnight care of pets when a family is on vacation.

Talent or training necessary: Love of pets and knowledge of handling them
Equipment needed: A few leashes and a mobile phone.
Marketing: Word of mouth, door-to-door, social media, and handing out fliers. Send lots of photos to the vacationing family showing Fido having fun.

3 | Tech Helper

If you are a computer programmer or can fix an iPhone some has dropped and broken, you probably already have a job (subscription required). However, there are lots of people in your neighborhood who would love to have their digital devices organized, updated, explained. And they’d love some simple instructions from a helpful teen.

Talent or training necessary: You must be confident of your ability to provide maintenance, instruction, and help.
Equipment needed: If you need to ask, skip to the next job
Marketing: Social media, fliers, community bulletin boards

4 | Rubbish Pickup and General Hauling Services

Whether it is old furniture, debris from construction projects, or electronic junk that needs to be recycled, there is always a demand for rubbish removal.

Talent or training necessary: Awareness of regulations and fees related to the disposal of specific types of debris.
Equipment needed: A truck
Marketing: Cold calling construction sites. Social media. Fliers.


5 | Parent Helper

A good option for younger teens, this is a great way to get started and train as a sitter. Watch or play with children while a parent is in the home getting other work done.

Talent or training necessary: Experience as a babysitter (or being an older sibling) is a help. Good relationships with adults.
Equipment needed: Bring along some fun things to play with.
Marketing: Call or visit the parents in your neighborhood Do a great job and the word will spread.

6 | Transcriptionist

If you are skilled at quickly transcribing (typing something recorded or somebody’s handwriting), you can provide a transcription service. There is plenty of online competition when it comes to transferring dictation to typed content, your potential customers might prefer to use you instead of a technology they may not be familiar with.

Talent or training necessary: Ability to type fast and accurately. People often have old papers, a family history for example, that they would like to be transcribed, but just haven’t got around to it
Equipment needed: A computer
Marketing: Neighborhood door-to-door, social media, fliers.

7 | Print Photo Digitizing

People have hundreds of photos in shoeboxes and photo albums. They don’t want to ship them away for fear of losing them. Provide same day delivery for small batches of photos and you’ll have a competitive advantage.

Talent or experience necessary: Not much.
Equipment needed: At first, use a drugstore photo center for your scanning. They will save photos to an account or disc. You can then download those file to a service like Dropbox.  As your business grows, you can purchase a flatbed scanner. You must have transportation for pick up and delivery. 
Marketing: 
Neighborhood door-to-door promotion, social media, fliers.

8 | Car Washer

Wash cars for your friends’ parents or anyone you know.

Talent or experience necessary: Know the precise way to wash a car. (Watch how-tos on YouTube.) Be able to explain in great detail the way you will wash the car.
Equipment needed: Be professional in the types of materials you use. A car is extremely expensive and your entire summer could be ruined if you harm a car’s paint.
Marketing: 
Neighborhood door-to-door promotion, social media, fliers. Create an album of photos of cars you’ve washed and explain how you did the job.

9 | Arbitrage Reseller

Okay, so “arbitrage reseller” sounds like you need a business degree and certification to be one. But all it means is this: Find something that you can acquire or purchase that you can then turn around and sell for more than you paid for it. (Also called, “profit”)

Book Reseller

If you’ve already started college and have textbooks to sell, you can make good money reselling them to sites like BookScouter or Amazon Textbook Buyback. If you don’t have textbooks to sell, start scouring used bookstores or yard sales for volumes in good condition, and then sell them online at a profit.

Toy Reseller

Just like book reselling, toy reselling involves selling toys online at a profit. If you already have a bunch of old toys to sell, great! If not, it’s time to hit the yard sales.

Clothing Reseller

Yes, you can resell clothes just like books and toys