The Best Micro Businesses for Teenagers in 2019

Carly and her sister, Hannah, had a goal to buy an iPod. They planned to earn money by knitting scarves and selling them to friends and neighbors. When they brought samples of their wares to our homeschool co-op, the parents were pleased with the scarves and impressed by the girls’ initiative. I had no doubt that they would reach their goal, especially when parents started requesting custom designs! Little did Carly and Hannah realize that they had just started a micro business.

Do you want to encourage your teenager to earn some cash by starting a business? Micro businesses are a great option because a teenager can make money and learn a lot, yet still manage school work and a social life. A micro business

  • Is simple and fast to start up.
  • Has no employees. There is only one worker, the owner.
  • Needs little start-up money. Most use what is already on hand.
  • Is usually home-based.
  • Is low-risk. A teenager wants to make money, not lose it!
  • Offers flexibility. A teenager can still have a social life, be in sports, youth group, and finish his homework while maintaining a micro business.
  • Finally, a micro business lets a teenager learn life skills while earning money.

Micro businesses start with an idea that meets a need. Brainstorm a few ideas with your teenager and see what strikes his or her fancy. Look for unmet needs among your friends and neighbors. Usually, the best micro business ideas come from personal talents or skills, such as playing an instrument or fixing a computer. Other micro businesses offer a new twist on an old idea such as an innovative babysitting service. Just remember that a micro business is not a major commitment. It is an opportunity to try out something new to make some money. By having even just one customer, a teenager can discover a new interest and a source of income.

My daughter Sarah decided to try her hand at web design and created a site for our hair stylist. She was paid $70 for designing a very simple website using free software. So far, Sarah has had only one website customer. Her interests have carried onto something new, photography, but she enjoyed trying web design as a micro business.

Why a Home-Based Micro-Business is Great For Teenagers

A micro business can be a great way for a teenager to make money. Micro businesses are usually manageable, easy to start and do not require a lot of start up money. Another reason why a micro business is great for a teenager is that it can be run from home.

Some small business owners feel they are not a real business unless they have a storefront. They might believe no one will take them seriously without a physical location or office. But a teenage micro business owner knows that a storefront or office is not necessary for making money. Instead, a building or rented space can be a drain on finances and kill a business.

Not only are home-based businesses cheaper to run , but they also fit the lifestyle of a teenager. A teenage micro business owner can work just about any time they wish, late at night or even before school, on the weekends and during school breaks. I get e-mails from my teenage micro business clients at all hours of the day and night (some at 1:00 am) because they can work on their business when they have time.

Another advantage to being home based is safety. The parents of a teenager feel a lot better knowing where their child is. Some teenagers I know work at jobs in fast food or amusement parks well past midnight and then have to drive home tired and sleepy. That is not safe for them or anyone else on the road.

Micro businesses are usually home based with no physical location. This allows tremendous flexibility if the teenage owner moves or starts college away from home. Their business can move with them if needed.

Phil started his business web design business while in high school. When he started college, he rented two dorm rooms, one to sleep in and one for his office (with a desk, two computers and three monitors), so he could continue to operate his micro business while attending college. He plans to keep his business home based (or really dorm based) as long as he can-maybe forever.

If you like the idea of a home-based micro business, ask yourself a few questions to get started:

Top 10 Great Micro Business Ideas

1. Child Care

The time-honored profession of teenagers is babysitting, but a micro business can offer something new or different. A unique twist to a typical babysitting job might be to add extra services such as doing laundry, pet-walking or light housecleaning for an extra fee. Or a teenager could offer to babysit regularly. One teenager made her babysitting micro business unique by advertising to neighbors that she was hosting a regular babysitting service every Tuesday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 pm in her home. Her customers could plan ahead knowing they had childcare that evening.

Karen (Spunky Homeschool) Braun’s daughter, Kristin, combined her love of reading and childcare. She assembled a small group of children and, in a two-hour block of time, read them a story, planned a craft, and fed them a snack. She charged $5 per child per week, offered a sibling discount and averaged $45 per family for a six-week summer mini-camp.

2. Lawn Care

Lawn-mowing, mulch-spreading and snow shoveling are great micro business ideas. A teenager may already have the equipment needed to start. If not, he or she should purchase only what is needed to get started.

Lucas Rice bought his first riding lawn mower at a garage sale when he was 12 with savings from a paper route. As his business grew, he was able to buy more equipment. “Allow your business to grow, and then grow your equipment into your business,” he advises.

3. Cleaning

It’s not a pleasant job, but houses, garages, yards, cars and pets all need to be cleaned at some point. Some clever teenagers sell coupon books of cleaning services or offer to wash a neighbor’s car on a regular basis, say once a week for six-weeks, in a package deal. One family with five daughters trades housecleaning for piano lessons. As one student has her piano lesson, the others clean the teacher’s house. Everyone is happy with the results of the trade.

Learn how to start here

4. Pet Care

Walking dogs, cleaning the yard of their messes, and pet-sitting for neighbors on vacation are great ideas. There is a man in my town who charges $10 a yard to clean up after a dog. It is not the nicest job in the world, but it could be a great option for a teenager or even a pre-teen.

My friends, the Wonsers, care for other people’s pets while they are away from home. They keep the pets at their home in their large backyard. The Wonsers have rabbit hutches and dog runs to keep their animal guests safe and happy. Your family could house rabbits, cats, and dogs for friends on vacation in a home-based pet hotel.

5. Music

There are several micro business for musicians, such as giving lessons, accompanying, and performing. Is your teenager a drummer? Eric Cieslewicz, a teenager in Ohio, teaches eight drum students every week. A teenager can use his knowledge of any instrument to teach children in a micro business.

Pianists are always in demand as accompanists for events or performances. My daughter, Emily, was paid for her time to rehearse and perform as an accompanist to a teenage cello player for his school music competition.

Some talented musicians are paid to play at weddings or social gatherings. Harpists, violinists, and pianists are the most popular, but garage bands can also be paid for a gig.

6. Tutoring

Teenagers can teach many school subjects, such as math, grammar, and Spanish. They make excellent tutors because they have recently studied the subject themselves. My oldest daughter was hired to tutor a 14-year-old girl in study skills to help prepare her for high school.

But tutoring does not have to be limited to academic subjects. Teaching art, swimming, and sewing all lend themselves to great micro businesses. Teenagers might consider teaching a small group of children at the same time to maximize income.

7. eBay or Garage Sale Assistant

An ambitious teenager offered to sell his neighbors’ stuff on eBay and took a 25% cut for himself. As a garage sale assistant, a teenager could advertise, organize, and run a garage sale for friends or neighbors. If he gathered several neighbors together, he could really earn the bucks! Another idea is to combine de-cluttering, hosting a garage sale and eBay assistance into a full package to help neighbors profit from their excess belongings.

8. Computer and Software Help Desk

Many teenagers may already have computer knowledge that can be turned into a profitable micro business. I needed help to straighten out my iTunes library after I accidentally deleted all the music on my iPod. Dave had started a micro business doing computer support and he spent an hour answering my questions like, “What are the blue circles for?” and “What do the checkmarks mean?” Then he showed me a neat feature called Smart Playlists to help get me organized. Dave sold his knowledge of computers as his micro business.

A teenager could be on call from home or, for an additional fee, make house calls to fix sick computers. Remember that what may be easy for a teenager can be very intimidating to some people, and they would gladly pay a helpful teenager to run cables or load software.

If your teenager is a patient teacher, there are plenty of people who would love to have help in how to better use their software. My daughter took a Photoshop class, and she then had three adults that wanted her to show them how Photoshop works.

9. Photography and Videotaping

We live in a visual age, where kids take photos and videos all the time. YouTube has made amateur videos commonplace and Facebook is now the world’s largest photo-sharing site. A teenager could build a micro business by taking pictures or videos of parties and special events for neighbors. This frees up the hostess to enjoy herself and be in some of the pictures.

Additionally, a student could offer to film an important occasion such as a birthday, music recital, or sporting event and then create a DVD of the special event. I hired someone to assemble 40 photographs of my family for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. They put the photos to music and we played it during their anniversary party. Their micro business idea added a nice touch for a special event.

Learn how to start this business here

10. Baking and Cooking

Dream Dinners is a popular franchise that lets customers prepare frozen meals. An ingenious teenager could modify that idea and offer to prepare frozen meals for neighbors. Or a teen could go to a neighbor’s home and have a meal ready for a busy working mom when she arrives home. Homemade cookies, cakes and pies are always popular too.

However, it is vital to follow your local ordinances on food safety. Some local food-safety laws require you to use a commercial kitchen or limit home-cooked foods to only baked goods and candy. Your local county extension or 4-H office will have information on food safety in a business. As a variation, a teenager could bake dog treats since there are fewer restrictions on pet foods than on food meant for human consumption.

After the Idea: The Next Steps

After your teenager has come up with an idea for a micro business, there are a few steps to make before they launch a successful enterprise:

Conduct a market survey. Encourage your teenager to ask a few potential customers if they would hire him and what they would be willing to pay.

Decide on a price. A great way for teenagers to get customers is by undercutting the competition. My daughter ended up with more piano students than she could handle because she charged only half the going rate for a half-hour lesson. She was happy because she was still paid better for her time than she would make working at a fast food restaurant or at the mall.

Be a volunteer. I recommend a teenager offer to do a free service for one or two clients to start out and see how it goes. It will teach your student a lot about the business and gather some references to use in advertising.

My daughter Sarah is interested in photography and took senior pictures of her friend Kelsey. Sarah loved it, and Kelsey’s parents were thrilled to receive a CD of over 100 photos. Now Sarah can use their comments and Kelsey’s pictures to help launch a micro business doing senior portraits for friends.

Launch an initial advertising campaign. Word of mouth is the best advertising, and in this digital age that means using email and Facebook. Parents can help spread the word of their teenager’s micro business by posting on homeschool forums. My daughter found her first piano students from our homeschool network. Also, consider setting up a Facebook fan page to advertise to friends and neighbors.

Pick a name and register it. Usually a teenage micro business owner does not need a business name; most can simply use their own name. I recommend waiting a few months to see if the teenager is going to stick with the business before choosing a business name. Business names must be registered with your state or local government and this may involve a fee, so I recommend putting off that expense until the business shows some longevity and a profit.

Consider a checking account. Be aware that many banks will not let a student under age 18 open a checking account, while others may require a parent to be a co-signer on the account. A check is a contract to pay and minors cannot legally execute a contract. If your child is too young for a checking account, he or she could endorse checks over to you and have you cash them. Minors can open a savings account and that can build good financial habits as they see the profits of the micro business grow, but will not have easy access to spend it.

Read up on taxes. I hope your children are successful enough to pay taxes on their micro business profits! If they earn a profit of more than $5,700 (in 2011), they will owe federal income tax. Depending on the nature of their business, they may also owe self-employment tax of 15.3% of their profit over $400., covers the details of taxes affecting teenagers. It also discuss services that are usually exempt from self-employment tax, such as babysitting and lawn care.

Learn about customer service, marketing and record keeping. There will be a lot to learn when running a micro business. Encourage your teenager to read books on several aspects of running a business. Offer to give them high school credit for what they are learning. My website,, is aimed at teens and offers excellent information to learn as the business grows.



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