chubby man in dress clothes with pockets out indicating no money

How to Start a Business as a Teenager with No Money

If you are a teenager looking to bring in some extra cash, you might find yourself wondering how you can start making money without having money to begin with, especially if you don’t want to rely on borrowing money from parents.

Starting your own business for free may seem intimidating or even impossible, but there is no need to fear: there are plenty of teen-friendly business ventures that require no initial investment.

How Can I start a Business with No Money?

The first thing you need to start a business for free is an idea. Ask yourself what products or services you are able to provide for your customers. There is no sense in wasting your time and energy on a business idea that simply isn’t within your skill set or resources.

Brainstorm about what options are realistically open to you: what skills, talents, or hobbies do you have, and which of those would people be willing to pay for?

For example, do you like to make anything that you could sell to others, like knitwear, ceramic goods, or handmade clothing? Are you willing to do manual labor, like shoveling snow, mowing lawns, or helping people move? What about housekeeping or childcare?

Making use of the skills you already have is key to getting a business off the ground without spending a penny.

You should also consider what equipment or materials you may be able to borrow from people you know, at least until you are able to buy your own.

Maybe there is a snow shovel in your parents’ garage waiting for you to put to use, clearing the neighbors’ driveways for cash. Perhaps your grandmother has extra yarn lying around that she is willing to give to you so that you can knit and sell a few scarves.

How to Promote Your Business Idea as a Teen

After you have an idea of what your business will be, get yourself prepared to start working. Whether that means collecting the supplies you will need to provide a service, or building up inventory to sell a product, make sure that you are ready to launch your business.

Your next steps will be to get your business’ name out there and find customers. Social media is a great way to promote your business, especially if you already have a large following. If you don’t have a ton of friends or followers, try asking your friends and family to promote your business on their social media accounts as well.

Whether you want to create social media accounts specifically for your business or just use the personal accounts you already have while you are just getting started is up to you, but you will eventually want to opt for the former.

This will help your business appear professional. Still, your personal social media accounts are a great platform for promotion, and promoting yourself is crucial to success.

You can also promote your business offline. Look for local cafes, libraries, or any other public places that have a bulletin board, and ask if you can post your business’ fliers.

Be sure to create fliers that are visually interesting and feature information about how to patronize your business, like your contact information.

Once you have a killer idea, the supplies you need to execute it, and the means to pique interest in your products or services are in place, all you have to do is wait for the customers to come to you. Get ready to start making money!

What are Some Business Ideas for Teens that Don’t Cost Money to Start?

Creative teen girl brainstorming ideas

To successfully start a business or side hustle as a teenager, your business idea should meet a few criteria. For one, you have to consider that you will need to work around your school schedule.

Attending school is a full-time job that takes at least 8 hours out of your day, so your business idea should be something that will allow you to have flexible work hours so that you can keep up with your schoolwork and any other extracurriculars you may be involved in.

Here are a few ideas for businesses that will allow you to make your own hours as you juggle school and work.

Business Ideas for Teens that are Free to Start

  • Childcare/Babysitting

    A classic afterschool job for teens, watching little ones is a great way to bring in extra cash on weekends or after school. Ask your neighbors, family friends, and parents’ coworkers if they or someone they know is in need of child care. You can even make yourself stand out from other babysitters by offering to clean up around the house while you are watching the kids.  

  • Housekeeping

    If you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty, housekeeping is a great way to earn money. You probably already have the skills you need for this business from doing chores around your own home, and your neighbors would be happy to have a break from sweeping floors, dusting, laundry, and so on. 

  • Running Errands

    If you are able to drive, you can offer to run errands for people who are homebound, disabled, or just plain too busy to do it themselves. Picking up groceries, running to the post office, and similar running around is easy and could really help someone out.

  • Lawn Care

    Another classic job for teens, mowing lawns is a simple way to make some money. If you are able to borrow a lawn mower from someone you know, lawn care is a free and easy service to provide. 

  • Pet Sitting or Dog Walking

    If you are an animal lover, this is the business idea for you! Offer to take your neighbors’ dogs for long walks to get them the exercise they need. Both the neighbors and their dogs will thank you for it. In addition, you can offer to watch any pets while people are out of town. 

  • Car Washing

    Many car owners love the look of a freshly washed car, but don’t want to do it themselves. You can go above and beyond by not just washing the exterior of the car, but also vacuuming the interior, polishing hubcaps, and waxing it to a shine.

Start an Online Business as a Teenager

Laptop computer with screen that says startup plan and a rocket ship. Coffee sitting on computer with a male typing

If you do not have access to transportation, your options are limited, but don’t worry — you can still start a successful business without a car or driver’s license. There are many kinds of online businesses that you can run from the comfort of your own home.

Starting an online business with no money might seem daunting, but all you will need to get started is your smartphone or a computer. In the beginning, don’t worry about creating a fancy website or taking perfect product photos.

Remember: start small! You can work on developing a sophisticated online platform for your business once your business is established and profitable. For now, just focus on selecting a great idea, providing quality service, and reaching your first customers.

Here are some ideas for online businesses a teenager can start for free: 

  • Graphic Design or Web Design

    Many small business owners are not so tech savvy, especially those among the older generations. Offering to vamp up others’ websites with exciting graphics is a great way to help someone out and make money while you’re at it.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for web designers in the future is expected to grow 13 percent over the next decade — that is more than the average for all other fields of work. This means that if you are skilled at designing websites, or if you are willing to learn these skills, you are sure to find people in need of your services.

  • Tutoring

    If you are good at explaining concepts to others, offering tutoring sessions to your peers or younger students is a great way for you to bring in some extra cash. You don’t need to be Einstein or even a straight A student — everyone has different sets of skills, so whatever your strength happens to be, you are bound to find someone who could use your help.

    If you have any special skills like playing a musical instrument or speaking multiple languages, you can offer lessons to any age group.

  • Selling Items

    Who doesn’t love handmade goods and crafts? If you are artistic, try selling your creations online. There are tons of platforms for selling goods that will allow you to list items for free, like eBay, Mercari, Shop Handmade, and Facebook Marketplace.

    You can also make use of your personal social media accounts to post items for sale, although you should keep in mind that this might make it more difficult for you to keep track of sales, and potential customers other than the friends or followers you already have will have a more difficult time finding out about your business.

  • Blogging

    If you have strong writing skills, blogging is a simple way to start making money. All you need to do to get started is write! You can start a blog for free using Google Sites, WordPress, Wix, and many other sites.

    Keep in mind that it will take some time for you to grow your audience and start earning serious cash, so if you are looking for fast cash, this may not be the best business idea for you.

    To start earning more as quickly as possible, try affiliate link marketing, which is when you promote and advertise links to products on your blog site and earn a commission when someone makes a purchase through your link.   

You Can Start a Business as a Teenager

Starting your own business as a teen will involve a decent amount of planning, time, and energy, but as long as you have a great idea, an excellent product or service, and a solid work ethic, you will find your market.

Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t pulling in thousands in your first week, since it will take some time for your business to really take off. Just be patient and know that you can succeed — and you don’t even need to spend a penny.

Always keep in mind that you must speak with your parents or guardians about your ideas, and don’t forget to follow the laws of your jurisdiction or city. Your business needs to be taken care of properly.

By: Robert Puharich | February 16, 2022 |