Two teens hanging out in their bedroom wondering how they can start their business as kids or teens

How to start a business as a kid


- Kids and teens can start a business with the help of a parent or legal guardian.

- Young entrepreneurs can learn valuable life skills (and make money!) from running a business.

- The seven steps to starting your business range from choosing a small business idea and forming a business plan to saving for startup costs and learning money management.

Ever dreamed of starting your own business? That dream can become a reality — and this guide is the perfect place to start.

Whether you’re a teen looking to start your first business or a parent of younger kids who’ve shown an interest in entrepreneurship, this tutorial will go over the basics of how to start a business as a kid.

Can kids be business owners?

Absolutely! Just look at a few of these examples:

Kid business owners can start and run businesses — but they’ll typically need some help from family members to handle the legal side of things. This is because you typically need to be 18 years old to open a bank account or obtain a business license.

Fortunately, with a little help from an adult, kid entrepreneurs can get started pursuing their dreams. Here’s how!

How to start a business as a kid

How to start a business as a kid: young teenager taking down notes

We’ll talk about each of these in more detail, but here are the basic steps you need to tackle:

  1. Choose a business idea.

  2. Make a business plan.

  3. Save for startup costs (or find an investor).

  4. Set up the business.

  5. Start creating your product or offering your service.

  6. Find potential customers and start selling!

  7. Handle bookkeeping and learn to manage your money.

The specific steps depend on the type of business, but most business ventures will share these basic steps. Now let’s delve into the details!

1. Choose a business idea.

The first step in how to start a business as a kid is to come up with the type of business you want to run. There are hundreds of different businesses you can choose from! Some good small business ideas might include:

  • Providing babysitting or pet sitting

  • Providing lawn care services

  • Running a lemonade stand

  • Selling crafts in person or on Etsy

  • Selling food products

  • Running an e-commerce business on Amazon or eBay

  • Starting a YouTube channel or podcast

  • Designing and selling T-shirts

  • Starting an online business by freelancing or selling products online

When deciding on a business idea, think about your personal interests and skills. What kind of business do you want to run?

Then think about your target customers. Are there people out there who will buy your products or services? And how can you find those potential customers?

2. Make a business plan.

A young girl uses a tablet and writes in a notebook while sitting at a table

A business plan is a document that describes all the essential information about your business, like your product, your market (customers), your plans for where and how to sell your product, and the financial details (e.g., the profit you’ll receive from each sale).

Every good business should start with a good plan — but it doesn’t need to be super detailed.

It’s a great idea for parents and kids to work together to come up with a plan. Some questions to answer in the plan include:

  • What will you call your business?

  • What will your business sell (products or services)?

  • How much will those products or services cost?

  • What will your business’ startup costs be?

  • What will your business’ ongoing costs be?

  • How will your business find customers?

  • What are some of your business’ local competitors — and how can your business do things better?

  • How will your business manage its finances, save for expenses, and pay taxes?

This planning stage is where you actually map everything out and figure out for yourself how to start a business as a kid. You can come up with your own plan or start out with a business plan template. Don’t forget to ask a parent for help! 

3. Save for startup costs.

When you draft your business plan, you’ll come up with the estimated costs to get your business started. Here’s an example for a teen starting a lawn-mowing business with their own equipment:

  • Equipment (lawn mower, rake, etc.): $600

  • Supplies (gasoline, trash bags, etc.): $100

  • Initial marketing (fliers, business cards, etc.): $100

  • Business license: $100

  • Miscellaneous: $50

  • Total: $950

In this case, the teen will need to come up with nearly $1,000 to get their business started. That money could come from chores and allowances, a side hustle, or even a part-time job.

In some cases, kids may need to secure an investment from someone to get their business going. For other kinds of businesses, startup costs may be very low.

4. Set up the business.

It’s time to get down to business! At this point, you should have a business plan and startup funding. Now it’s time to handle logistics:

  • Get a business license from your local city or county government

  • Set up a business bank account

  • Create a website or social media accounts for the business

  • Order initial marketing materials (fliers, business cards, etc.)

  • Practice making the product

Several steps in this process will require parental help. Your parent can help open a bank account and secure a business license, for example.

Be sure to look into local requirements in your area. For some businesses, you might not need a business license right away. For others, you might need a license and additional permits, such as a food handlers permit. A good place to start researching is the Small Business Administration, as well as your local county government. 

5. Start creating your product (or offering your service).

If you’re running a product-based business, it’s time to start creating or sourcing your products. Depending on what you’re planning to sell, this could mean ordering supplies, practicing skills or recipes, and packaging goods.

If you’re running a service-based business, you may want to practice what you’re offering. If you’ve started offering freelance design services, for instance, start by designing your own business’ logo! If you’re selling your landscaping services, start by cleaning up your own yard.

The strategy for how to start a business as a kid depends on the type of business you plan to run — but most business types will need some prep work at this point! 

6. Start selling!

Teenagers cleaning a yard

Here’s where things get really fun: It’s time to start actually selling your goods or services! You’ll need to locate potential customers and close deals. This process can look different depending on the type of business you’re running, but some examples include:

  • Setting up a booth at a local craft fair

  • Listing products on online marketplaces (Etsy, eBay, Amazon, etc.)

  • Vending at a local farmer’s market

  • Going door to door to sell goods

  • Emailing your friends and family to explain your business and pitch your goods or services

  • Advertising on social media

You’ll likely have to make some changes as your business grows. One of the exciting parts of running a business is thinking on your feet and adapting to unexpected situations as they happen. So don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things!

7. Keep records and manage your money.

As a business owner, managing your money and keeping accurate records is very important. You’ll want to keep track of every dollar you earn and every expense your business has. You’ll need this to calculate your profits and to file taxes.

This is also a good time to learn money management skills. That way, you can make the most of the profits your business is earning!

If you want to learn how to manage your own money, talk to your parents about Greenlight. Greenlight is a money app for kids and teens that helps you earn, save, spend, and even invest. You can get your own debit card and learn to manage your money in the Greenlight app!

Get started today!

Whatever your dream business is, we wholeheartedly encourage you to get started on it today! Running a business can be an exciting adventure and a valuable learning experience. If you’re just starting out, talk to your parents about how you can move forward — and show them this article as inspiration!

And while you’re at it, ask your parents about joining Greenlight — the all-in-one money app for kids and teens!

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