Smiling entrepreneur with coffee to go sitting on the ground with a coffee on unpacked boxes for her online business for teens

From Business Idea to Online Business for Teens

This is an exciting time to become an entrepreneur, particularly in digital spaces. The current gig culture is a fertile breeding ground for online business ideas for teens. It’s a big step to put yourself out there and start something new, but a little courage and good planning can be the ticket to a successful side hustle for teens.

What you need to create your online business depends on what type of business you’d like to start. For example, are you selling handmade goods or products on eBay? Then you might require inventory.

Or is your product your creativity, like writing and editing services, or special skills like online tutoring? Maybe your business will be driven by your personality and ability to present yourself as a Social Media Influencer, a Podcaster, or a Video Content Creator.

The ideas are endless! But how do you convert an amazing idea into a profitable business?

Start with a Good Foundation

Big text says what's your plan with a caucasian man pointing a finger

Whichever type of business you want to open, start with a great idea and build a solid business plan. The plan doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it should outline how much money you’ll need to invest in getting it started, what supplies and equipment you’ll need, where you’ll offer your services or sell your products, how you’ll manage and track your income, and how you’ll promote your business.

Make sure you research your local and federal government requirements to determine if you need to be licensed or what taxes you may have to charge your customers. One of the financial questions you’ll need to ask yourself is how are you funding this venture?

Do you have cash on hand to pay for online platform fees and equipment? Or do you plan to use a credit card to pay for these services or borrow funds to purchase equipment, like a high-end laptop or video production equipment, like lighting and tripods?

If you are planning to ship products as part of your online business, you’ll need to decide from the beginning how you’ll get products to your customers and how much that will cost. Many platforms will include this service as part of your account, which can save both time and money.

It saves a lot of hassle on your end as these systems are extensive and well established, which helps ensure customer satisfaction, and customers who get their products on time and in good order are likely not only to buy again but also promote your business to their friends and family.

What do You Need to Get the Job Done?

To start an online teaching or tutoring business as a teen, all you need is a marketable skill, like being good at math or playing an instrument very well. You can use a free collaboration software platform, like Google Workspace apps, Zoom and Skype, to make it easy to connect and work with your clients.

Consider taking courses to keep your skill level high or to find a mentor to guide you. Build connections and a community support system such as through Facebook groups and Reddit’s subreddits. Plenty of groups focus on starting a side hustle, even as a teen.

If your idea is to produce and sell your handmade goods or use your digital design skills to create products, you’ll need to find a platform to sell them. Etsy, Shopify, RedBubble, and other popular sites give you the digital space to sell your goods and market your business.

Some online businesses can be started for zero costs using free-to-use platforms and your knowledge and skills. For example, Fiverr and Upwork can be great places to find freelance work. The process is fairly simple: You see a job you’d like to bid on, send a proposal, connect with the client, submit work and get paid all through the platform.

You can join at no cost and continue bidding on new jobs using their free credit system if you complete your contracts to the client’s satisfaction. Excellent reviews will increase your ability to get new and higher-paying gigs.

Like YouTube and TikTok, some platforms will pay creators who build a larger viewership through followers and views. This can be a highly lucrative online business for teens and mainly require a good idea and lots of time spent creating regular content that satisfies current followers and inspires new ones.

Just one video can produce enough momentum to propel a low-earning creator to a high-grossing one. Patreon and YouTube also allow fans to fund creators directly through subscription services. Creators can inspire viewers to purchase a subscription through offerings that are only for subscribers.

Bloggers, Podcasters, YouTubers can all earn passive income (money earned from minimal or no effort) from affiliate marketing when ads are played during their content. With affiliate marketing, creators earn money when ad views convert to sales through the ad link shown on their site or played during their episode.

Take care to do your research before you sign up with an affiliate marketing platform and choose an affiliate that aligns with your customer demographic. You get paid by links, so you want ads that encourage fans to click the link.

How Will You Promote Your Business?

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Getting the word out about your online business is crucial. For potential customers to find your products and services, they need a way to learn about them. An easy, no-cost option is word-of-mouth from happy customers, but that can be challenging to control. The digital version is reaching out to customers on social media and creating great sharable content on your social media channels.

Create a Pinterest business account and share images that link back to your website or seller’s page. Monitor the analytics and use the information to make smart marketing choices. Open a Facebook Group and invite everyone you know to join. Create engaging content and share across other social media platforms, like Instagram and Twitter, to get the word out.

You can use a free website builder to create a website to promote your business. The downside is they include ads you don’t control and long domain names you can’t customize. So, if you have some funds set aside for marketing, you can purchase a custom website and domain name, which will make it easier for potential customers to find you and create a better experience on your site.

Whichever option you choose, you need to spend some time optimizing your SEO (Search Engine Optimization), so you can be found in top search results.

Other low-cost marketing options are purchasing targeted Facebook and Google ads and offering services on a free trial or with a discount like with a digital coupon.

How Will You Get Paid?

Working online can bring challenges with getting paid for your work. Fortunately, many platforms take care of the ordering and shipping process for you—all you do is enter a method to receive the funds, like through PayPal or Stripe. Of course, you can set up payment processing yourself through a system like Square, where you can receive debit and credit card payments.

You can also receive funds digitally through email transfers, EFT/ACH payments or wire transfers, which are electronic bank-to-bank money transfers from your customer’s bank account directly to your bank account. All of these options come with service fees, so you’ll need to budget for that in your business plan as a cost of doing business.

Are You Ready to Start Your Online Business as a Side Hustle?

Running any type of business takes dedication and hard work. Bringing your ideas to life and watching them grow into a successful online business as a teen is an exciting and fantastic way to make some serious cash and gain valuable work experience. What’s stopping you from giving it a shot?

By: Robert Puharich | March 14, 2022 |