Opportunities for teens to make money this summer
Summer is a great time for high schoolers to earn some money and get some entrepreneurial experience by running their own business. For those students who think they may want to be a business owner someday, or who just want to earn a little money on their own terms, here are some tips for summer businesses for teens.
Treat it like a business – because it is
Lots of kids earn money by doing chores at home or for neighbors, but if you want to make a business out of it, you need to treat it like one.
Start by identifying the product or service you will offer, and who is likely to want or need it. You can let people know about your business by word of mouth, by posting on social media, or go old-school and drop off flyers at neighbor’s homes.
Next, you’ll need to determine how much to charge. If you have expenses (gas for your lawnmower if you’re planning to start a lawnmowing business, for example), determine what those are. Then figure out how much you want to earn per hour or per project. This should help you come up with price. Finally, find out how much others are charging for the same or similar services just to make sure you’re in the ballpark. Keep in mind that if you don’t have much experience you may need to charge less until you’ve been at it for a while.
Once you land that first customer, be sure to keep track of your expenses and your income. Opening a separate bank account can help, since everything that goes in and out is related to your business. Just make sure you pay all your expenses from that account, and put in the money you earn before paying yourself, just to keep your records straight.
What are good summer businesses for teens?
There are many options for teens to earn some money in the summer. Think about what you’re good at and what you like to do, and then figure out of you can make money from it. Here are some options:
- Detailing cars
- Pet sitting
- Errand service
- Arts and crafts business
- Day camp
- Technology support
- Social media influencer
- App or game development
You’re an entrepreneur!
Once you’ve figured out what product or service you’re going to provide, to whom, and for how much, and you’ve gotten that first customer, you’re in business! To make sure you stay that way, there are some details you’ll want to pay attention to.
Teens who start businesses will learn the advantages of earning their own money, but they will also need to learn the responsibilities that come with it. And that means income taxes. Anyone – no matter their age – who earns more than $400 net in self-employment earnings must file a tax return. The IRS considers them to be self-employed.
Even if a teen is claimed as a dependent by someone else, they need to file their own tax return if they meet the $400 threshold. This is another incentive to carefully document your expenses, as they can be deducted from gross income.
If your business idea takes off, you may find that you have more business than you can handle. While this is a good problem to have, you want to find a solution because no entrepreneur wants to turn down business! There are a couple of things you can do once you reach this point.
- Bring on help. If you have a like-minded friend or two who might also be looking to make a little money, see if they’d like to help you out. Be sure to discuss the details with them – writing everything down is a good idea. This includes what they’ll do, what days or hours they’ll work, and how much they’ll earn. You can pay them by the hour, or pay them a percentage of what each customer pays you. If you have overhead expenses, be sure to factor those in when determining how much you can pay.
- Raise your prices. If you want to continue to do all the work yourself, you may be in a position where you can raise your prices. This should result in fewer people wanting your service, but be sure you don’t raise them so high you put yourself out of business!
Remember, it’s important to maintain a good business reputation, so be sure you can keep your commitments to your customers. If you find you’re too busy, don’t take on any new customers until you can figure out how you’re going to expand. And if you can’t meet the schedule you’ve set, discuss it with your customers as soon as possible.
Your summer business could be just the beginning
On the Hiscox Side Hustle to Small Business® podcast, many entrepreneurs talk about their very first business, and it was often as a teenager. In fact, podcast host Sanjay Parekh, who is a serial technology entrepreneur, recounts his own start in business. He admits to taking part in ‘candy bar arbitrage,’ when he would buy candy at the store and resell it to his classmates during school, marking it up for a nice profit.
Just like Sanjay, if you can find a product or a service that people want and provide it at a good price, you can be an entrepreneur too.