Entrepreneurship isn’t just for adults. It’s for anyone who has an online store idea and wants to bring it to life. If you’re a teenager with a passion or interest in starting an online business, you absolutely can make it a reality. In this post, we’re sharing some great online business ideas for teens so you can start an online store of your own.
Let’s get into it.
5 Reasons Why Teens Should Start an Online Business
There’s more to be gained from starting a business than just a flexible lifestyle. Navigating the world can be challenging as a teen (and frankly, as an adult too!), and starting your own online business is a truly enriching experience that can boost a teen’s confidence and skills.
You may even unearth hidden talents, all the while putting money in your pocket. Needless to say, this is good news for teens and parents!
That said, here are some of the critical skills and attributes you could develop by starting your own business.
Learn Lessons in Adaptability & Resilience
Failure at some point is inevitable. It’s a frustrating part of life that we have to face head-on. However, we can use how we navigate and recover from our mistakes and disappointments to shape our future selves.
Operating an online business puts opportunities to fail in an entrepreneur’s path, and teens will likely benefit from the practice of handling and bouncing back from failures. Teens will soon learn that not everything goes your way, and it’s okay to fail, try again, fail again, and try once more.
Ultimately, failing helps build resilience and can boost confidence when recovered from it.
Foster Communication Abilities
Communication skills are an essential part of business and life. To be successful as an entrepreneur, one needs to communicate effectively with their customers, suppliers, and followers at large.
This isn’t just verbal communication either; “communication skills” encompass non-verbal communication, collaboration, written communication, and public speaking as well. As you go about running your business, you’ll naturally have to put many of these skills into practice and the practice will benefit you both personally and professionally.
Develop Finance & Accounting Skills
When operating your own business, you’ll need to stay on top of your finances in a variety of different ways. Whether it’s managing cash flow, purchasing inventory upfront, invoicing suppliers, handling your business’ bookkeeping, working with an accountant, etc. there’s a lot to learn — and learning it will provide you with valuable skills.
You don’t need to be an expert by any means, but familiarizing yourself with the basics and getting help from reputable bookkeeping, accounting, tax, and financial experts will benefit you greatly both personally and professionally.
Learn Real-World Skills Not Taught in School
When operating your own online business, you’ll likely learn a lot of things along the way that you may not learn in school like inventory management, customer service, financial management, delegation and outsourcing, marketing, website management and so much more.
Even if your business doesn’t last forever, the skills you learn along the way will. They will also likely make you stand out as a valuable candidate if or when you apply for jobs in the future.
Build Savings for the Future
Even if it’s just a couple hundred dollars per month extra, the profit you earn from your business could benefit your savings goals.
And if you automate your business to the point that you don’t actually have to spend a lot of your time managing it, the passive income you earn could be some of the easiest money you’re making each month! You don’t have to spend a lot of time to earn a decent profit once you get up and running, so make your business work for you and benefit from the return-on-investment you get, not only monetarily but also for your time spent.
These Teens are Already Running their Own Online Businesses
Looking for some inspiration? Look no further! Check out these teens who have turned their passions and ideas into businesses.
One day, Ben Pasternak found himself bored in his biology class. His solution? To build a mobile app.
Yes, it may be an unconventional strategy to mitigate boredom, but it became the catalyst for Pasternak’s success.
Since then, he’s created several successful online projects — most notably, Flogg, the buy-and-sell platform for teens (which ended up flopping), as well as the video chat platform Monkey which raised $200,000 and was eventually sold.
His third startup — food tech company SIMULATE (known for their “NUGGS”) — raised $50 million dollars — and he’s only 21 now!
Langston Whitlock is the co-founder of Safe Trip, a US ride-sharing app that aims to help the homeless and the elderly access medical transport without insurance.
Patients, carers, and health care providers can book medical transportation through the app for emergency and non-emergency use. Users are offered cars, vans, wheelchair-accessible vehicles, and ambulances.
Plus, if users do have medical insurance, they can use the app to pay for the service.
Unbelievably, Whitlock co-founded the app when he was 16, and since the app’s conception, it has gained a staggering $2.3 million in funding!
While on furlough during the first Covid-19 lockdown, Phoebe Cosgrove started learning how to sew. A friend asked her to stitch a picture of her pug onto a jumper, which marked the beginning of Cosgrove’s business Pretty Paws.
Cosgrove set up her own marketplace on Etsy, and soon after, her living room became her production line. To gain customers, she uses social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube to share her products and business journey.
Cosgrove is only 19 years old, and her business continues to grow from her efforts!
When she was 14, Ashley Qualls started a website called WhateverLife.com. She provided free MySpace layouts and HTML tutorials while her website was supported entirely by advertising revenue, like Google Ads.
In the first few months of business, she made a massive $70,000, and by age 17 she’d earned her first million.
After that, Qualls was approached by numerous people wanting to buy her company, but she denied every offer. In 2016, she then created the website SickNotDead.com which provides resources to chronically ill individuals.
The Pros & Cons of Starting an Online Business as a Teen
The examples above are proof that it’s possible to start an online business as a teen and be successful at it — whether you run it as a side hustle to your school or work or turn it into your full-time income is up to you!
If you’re an aspiring teenage entrepreneur, keep these pros and cons in mind before you get started.
Pros of Starting a Business as a Teen
- Develop new skills
- Gain financial management experience
- Take on responsibility
- Build a customer base
- Earn extra cash
- Potential to become financially free
- Potential for time freedom
- Bring your ideas to life
- Make mistakes and learn from them
- Evolve into a more well-rounded individual
- Become a more desirable candidate for hiring managers
Cons of Starting a Business as a Teen
- Need to be responsible
- May face learning curves with all the rules and regulations around owning and operating a business
- Potential to make mistakes
- Most businesses need at least a little bit of money to get started
- May face a learning curve managing the finances of a business
- Managing customer service inquiries takes time and effort
- May require parental/guardian permission if under 18
Note: Check the laws and regulations in your area to understand whether you need parent/guardian permission in order to own or operate a business and open a business bank account. Conduct your own due diligence and consult the relevant authorities in your region for guidance.
Considerations for Parents/Guardians
Teens under 18 may need parent/guardian permission in order to start and run a business, depending on the rules in your region.
If you are a parent or guardian supporting a minor in starting an online business, we urge you to conduct your own due diligence to understand what the rules and regulations are in your area.
In addition to consulting a lawyer and/or accountant, we suggest keeping these things in mind:
- How much time will your teen realistically have to dedicate to their business?
- What roles will they be responsible for?
- What roles will you be responsible for?
- Will you assign each other’s roles through a contract?
- What level of autonomy will your teen have when it comes to their business, and what actions will they need to check with you first before acting on them?
- How will your teen be held accountable for their decisions? Will there be check-ins, meetings with you, reports that they’ll be required to share with you, etc.?
- Will there be a procedure for addressing mistakes?
- How will you keep tabs on your teen’s business to ensure that all aspects of customer service, order management, bookkeeping, accounting, etc. are being met?
11 Online Business Ideas for Teens
Here are some great online business ideas for teens.
Online Business Ideas for Teens #1: Sell Digital Products
Digital products aren’t just the future anymore.
They’re the here and now.
Consumers are purchasing all types of digital products these days, and since there’s no shipping involved and no actual physical components, they can be pretty easy to make, and that makes them a great product for teens to sell.
The biggest advantages? There’s no inventory to manage, no shipping to handle, no physical products to break during the transportation process, and no supplier delays.
Digital products can also be made quickly and easily, and they can be sold quickly and easily.
Here are some ideas of digital products you can sell:
- Newsletters and email templates
- Digital planners
- Website themes
- Photoshop templates
- Presentation templates
- Mockup templates
- Reference kits
- Photography collections
- Instructions and guides
- Digital greeting cards
- Downloadable stickers
- Start a website, get a good amount of traffic going to it, then sell it
You can sell digital products on your own Shopify store (Shopify Review), or you can sell them on Etsy or Creative Market. Check out the digital product categories on the latter two sites to get even more ideas for digital products to sell.
For more guidance, check out our article on How to Sell Digital Products Online here.
Online Business Ideas for Teens #2: Greeting Cards
The greeting cards industry is a billion-dollar market, so there’s definitely room for some new players. So, start your own greeting card business!
You can make greeting cards from scratch with a little bit of creativity and materials found in your local craft store, or you can design them digitally using illustrations you can purchase from sites like Creative Market (just make sure that you purchase the commercial license option!) and then print out your greeting cards yourself.
Another sourcing option is to get your greeting card ideas brought to life by a print-on-demand dropshipper like Gooten.
Ultimately, greeting cards are easy to make, there’s a big market of buyers, there are plenty of different holidays and events to create cards for so there’s demand year-round, they’re easy to ship since they’re small, and there are virtually no shipping restrictions on paper products like these.
Online Business Ideas for Teens #3: Sell Your Art or Photography
Do you make art or take great photos?
Then sell them!
You can get your art or photos printed on canvases, poster-sized paper, or as prints, and you can sell them to buyers all over the world. If you have the natural talent and passion for it, why not share it?! You’ve got nothing to lose, and passionate customers to gain.
Check out our article on How to Sell Photos and Art Online here.
Online Business Ideas for Teens #4: Sell Notebooks & Journals
Another option in the stationery family is notebooks and journals.
If you’re a writer, drawer, artist, songwriter, scrapbooker, or have any other type of creative hobby that requires a notebook or journal, then consider starting a business around it! Design beautiful covers, add new collections periodically, offer limited-edition versions, and channel your creativity into an online store.
For more tips and strategies, check out our How to Start a Notebook & Journal Business article here.
Online Business Ideas for Teens #5: Sell Swimwear
The swimwear industry is an interesting market to get into because you can get creative, source swimwear products from print-on-demand dropshipping suppliers, and they can be pretty lucrative to sell.
Create your own pattern designs, get them printed onto swimsuits (Printful has a lot of options), and then sell them to customers!
Keep in mind that swimwear can be a seasonal product to sell because consumers are more likely to purchase it in the spring and summer months, however, if you normally go to school or have other time-consuming commitments during the fall and winter times, then a swimwear business might actually be a good fit for your lifestyle. It would mean that your busiest business months line up with the months that you’re off school which would be a win-win situation!
Find out more about How to Start a Swimwear Brand in our post here.
Online Business Ideas for Teens #6: Sell Pet Products
Passionate about the pooch or kitty in your life? Why not make and sell pet products!
The types of pet products that we recommend selling if this is your first business, is to stick to clothing-type products or accessories like collars and leashes, instead of delving into treats and pet food.
Treats and pet food are bound to certain rules and regulations in most regions, so it can be tricky to navigate the dos and don’ts. Plus, making ingestible products comes with a lot of responsibility, so we suggest steering clear of it right now, and sticking to the simpler parts of the pet industry.
By this we mean cute pet products like bandanas, sweaters, coats, booties, collars, and leashes.
You can find some pet products on Printful, or you could even make your own! We do suggest that, as always, you conduct your own due diligence to discover which types of pet products are subject to rules and regulations in your region before you start developing or selling any of them.
For more information on How to Make Pet Products, check out our article here.
Online Business Ideas for Teens #7: Sell Headwear
Headwear products are a great idea to sell online because they’re pretty easy to source (Printful has a lot of options) and you can change up your inventory to suit the changing seasons.
Not only can you sell hats during the spring and summer months and offer beanies and toques for autumn/winter time, but another headwear option that’s lucrative right now is facemasks (find print-on-demand facemasks on Printful).
To really round out your inventory, you could also venture into selling scarves, neckties, and bowties as well.
There are plenty of headwear accessories to sell, so if you want to focus on a specific niche that offers a diverse range of product options, this is a great choice.
Online Business Ideas for Teens #8: Sell Phone Cases
Phone cases are a super popular product, so make and sell your own!
You can use a dropshipping supplier like Printful or Gooten to print your own designs onto different phone cases, and since you don’t have to purchase any inventory upfront, you won’t have to stock a bunch of different cases for every type of phone out there (which becomes a lot of inventory to keep track of).
Instead, your dropshipping supplier will do that for you and you just have to purchase whatever you sell on a customer-by-customer basis.
Learn more about How to Start a Phone Case Business in this post.
Online Business Ideas for Teens #9: Sell Stickers
Stickers are a great product to sell because they’re relatively easy and inexpensive to produce, they’re easy to ship because they’re small and light, and you can get creative with them!
You can produce your own stickers at home if you have sticker paper and the right printer (like a Cricut), or you can outsource the printing process to a supplier who can make your sticker products in bulk (such as companies like Sticker Mule or even Printful).
Learn more about How to Start a Sticker Business in our article here.
Online Business Ideas for Teens #10: Sell Mugs & Water Bottles
Drinkware like mugs and water bottles are always good product ideas to sell online because there’s plenty of demand, and you can have a lot of fun with them, too!
Get creative making designs to print on your mugs or bottles and use a print-on-demand dropshipper to get your ideas printed right onto your products! You can create collections centered around specific themes, or print funny phrases or sayings that you invent.
Online Business Ideas for Teens #11: Sell Clothes
Starting a clothing line is a heck of a lot easier these days than it ever was before.
To start your own clothing line even only a couple of decades ago, you had to manufacture garments in bulk with a clothing manufacturer, however, nowadays you can create custom apparel simply by creating your own designs and getting them printed onto products by a print-on-demand supplier.
You also aren’t limited to just starting a t-shirt line these days; there are so many other articles of clothing you can source like hoodies, sweatpants, leggings, dresses, skirts, jackets, shorts, and so much more.
Looking for even more product ideas? Check out these posts:
No matter what kind of online business you want to start, just start something. Even if you fail, you’ll learn along the way and ultimately, you have a lot more to gain than you have to lose. Just start something!