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40 Free or Low Cost Business Ideas for Teens

Starting a successful and large-scale business while in High School can show colleges that you have leadership skills and are willing to take initiative. Not to mention, your business income can help you pay for college or even your own needs!

The list below describes 40 small businesses you can start TODAY for free or at a low cost. After all, it’s unlikely that a teen already has thousands of dollars saved up. 

Online Businesses


Note: If you’re looking for online clients for these businesses, join and advertise yourself on Fiverr, which is a marketplace for Freelancers. 

1. Photography and Videography

Photos and videos can be taken for different types of customers - local businesses, individuals, for weddings, or any other event where someone might need them. Take heed though - if you’re not already experienced in the art, it’s a poor idea to jump into the business.

2. Take Stock Photos

If you’d rather take photos of what you like, you can opt to sell your professional photos on platforms like Shutterstock.

3. Video Editing

Have great video editing skills? Try reaching out to YouTubers and offer to edit their videos for a fee. Send them a video of your past works! But don’t forget to watch and get well acquainted with their preexisting videos to make sure your editing style matches theirs. 

4. Graphic Design

Design logos, promotional pages, or anything else someone might need for their business using websites like Canva or PicMonkey

5. Manage Social Media accounts for businesses

Have an extremely popular social media page? Know how to navigate the algorithms? Help local (or online) businesses create and manage their own social media account! If you reach out, you’re sure to find some customers. Many people would love to use social media marketing for their business, but are just too busy to find the time. 

6. Design Websites

If you’re experienced in web design or HTML coding, this is the business idea for you. You can help other people design their websites for a cost or even sell theme templates on platforms like Etsy

7. Proofread

With Textmaster you can get paid for correcting grammatical errors. However, you should be a strong reader and writer, because the company vigorously tests your proofreading abilities to verify you before hiring.

8. Freelance Writing

For strong writers, freelancing may be a good option. By writing professionally for websites and blogs like Constant-Content you can make up to 10 cents per word. Other freelancing platforms like Upwork will also pay you to write articles for them.

9. Transcription services

Companies often pay people to transcribe the audios of their meetings. 

Using GoTranscript you can earn money by typing out recordings including calls, podcasts, interviews, and meetings. The average earnings on the site is $150 per month.

10. Translate

If you’re already bilingual, companies like Upwork will pay you to write subtitles or translate documents from English into another language.

You can also offer to translate YouTubers subtitles on videos into your native language for them.

11. Become a Virtual Assistant

A Virtual Assistant is someone who offers services virtually to other Business owners. The tasks a Virtual Assistant takes on are based on their skill set - including many of the the skills mentioned above. So this could mean Social Media Marketing, Graphic Design, or any other tasks for a business or website. 


12. Flip items on eBay or Craigslist

Have a good eye for finding nice items? Resell them on eBay! If you enjoy thrifting clothes or finding vintage items you can sell them on the internet for a good profit.

13. Sell Homemade Crafts

If you already have a crafting hobby like making jewelry, soap, or beautiful artwork, sell your hobby!  Open up an Etsy store or advertise on Social Media platforms and sell directly to your customer.

14. Sell Printables

Digital printables include downloadable journals, trackers, planners, and stickers, among other things. But did you know you can actually design and sell these? If you have great design skills, people will pay for these printable items on platforms like Etsy

Other Online Businesses

15. Become a Social Media Influencer

This business is the one that needs the most patience and dedication before you can get monetized. However, once you start gaining traction and have tens of thousands of followers you can apply to get ad revenue, create merchandise, sell guides, and get sponsorships!

Just for reference, different platforms have different rules and monetization methods. YouTube offers ad revenue if you meet certain requirements, while on TikTok the concept of Ad revenue does not exist. This is why many people on TikTok also channel their followers to other platforms.

16. Start a Podcast

Podcasts are growing increasingly popular with at least 1 million different podcasts worldwide. Surprisingly, you can easily start a Podcast with a small initial investment - a free Anchor account and a cheap mic. Anchor helps you record, edit, distribute your podcasts, and can even get you monetized. For a free service, that seems like a pretty good deal!

17. Create an App/Game

If you have amazing coding skills and a great idea to address a need - build an app! Who knows, you might even end up building the next Instagram, Uber, or Postmates. 

18. Start a Website

By buying a custom domain for around $15 per year and building a niche website using free Blogger hosting you can potentially earn big profit from ad revenue. To get more traffic, use Social Media and Google SEO techniques. 

19. Sell and Self-publish a Book

Have the next best-seller book idea in your head? Write it and publish it on  Kindle Direct Publishing, where Amazon will print and ship out your book for you on-demand. Self-publishing is fast and much more accessible than going through a publishing house, an option usually unavailable to teen authors. 

However, to make this a business you will need to sell many copies of the book. Since you're self-publishing you must market the book on your own, taking up the tasks that would have been done by a Publisher. 

20. Sell an Online Course

Online course platforms like Coursera are growing extremely popular. By teaching your specialized talents and skills to others online you have the potential to make big bucks. 

Local Businesses


21. Academic Tutor

Straight-A student? Aced some AP classes? Help younger children or even your peers with whatever subject is your specialty! You can either do this locally, or tutor virtually to open yourself up to a wider amount of students.

22. Standardized Test Tutor

Got a 36 on the ACT? Done extremely well on the SAT? You should help your fellow high schoolers crack these tests! The SAT and ACT are wildly stressful exams and many parents would be willing to pay to get their child tutoring for them. Offer words of encouragement, practice tests, overall guidance, and tutoring to help them ace these tests. 

23. Babysitting

If you love young kids, earn a valid babysitting certificate and advertise your services to parents of young kids in the area. 

24. Start a Summer Camp

Run a crafty niche summer camp for neighborhood kids. This could be science, crafts, music, or whatever else you may be good at, and also help engage young children.

25. Talent lessons

If you’ve been in music, art, or sports lessons for many years, you can teach children these skills and talents for a fee.

Pet Care

26. Dog Walking

Get some exercise in and take your neighbors’ dogs for a walk! Many people are too busy and don’t have the time, so you can totally help them and their furry friend out by offering to dog walk.

27. Pet sitting

If you enjoy spending time with animals you can help people by taking care of their pets while they're on vacation.

28. Make Pet Treats!

Make delicious treats for your little furry friends with some simple recipes from Pinterest. But before you start selling, make sure to check the laws and regulations on this to see whether you need to apply for a permit.

Car Care and Landscaping

29. Lawn landscaping

A classic teen business - mow lawns, rake leaves, and shovel snow.

30. Mobile Car Detailing

Grab a vacuum cleaner you already own and some inexpensive cleaning products. You can offer to drive to someone’s house and clean up their car interior.

31. Mobile Car Washing

Drive to your customers’ houses and wash their car exterior for them. You can offer car detailing as a complementary service.

Organization and Cleaning 

32. Professional Organizer

Are you an avid Marie-Kondo fan? Help families and individuals declutter their spaces.

33. Party Planning

Have a knack for planning parties and events? Contact parents and ask to take the weight of planning out their child’s birthday party. Help organize everything including food prep, picking up the cake, activities, the guest list, invitations, the venue, decorations, and any other thing the child and parent want. This is a great business because there’s virtually NO initial investment.

34. Errand Service

As the world gets faster, humans get busier. Help people save time by buying and delivering groceries, picking up the kids, or any other menial task they need to get done. 

35. Laundry Delivery Business

Pick up dirty clothes from your customers’ houses and dry clean, wash, dry, iron, and fold their clothes for them. Once done, you can deliver the clothes back to them. You can price your service either by the amount of bags, or make it a flat monthly fee for consistent customers.

36. Gift basket/Gift-wrapping service

This is an easy seasonal business to start around the holiday season. Around Black Friday, ask busy adults you know, who might need some extra help getting prepped for the holiday festivities and gift-giving. 

Other Local Businesses

37. Makeup Artist

Complimented on your makeup skills often? If you’re a makeup maniac and have tons of extra products on hand already you can offer to do makeup for others for a flat fee for special events like school dances and other events. 

38. Hairdressing

Open up an Instagram account and showcase your hairdressing talent. Advertise your services for Homecoming, Prom, and any other events that students might want hairdressing for. 

39. Seamstress business

If you have a talent for sewing, start up a business for creating or tailoring your peer’s clothes. This might mean making stunning custom prom dresses or creating cute thrifted items. To mitigate fabric costs, sew made to order clothing and keep your inventory of materials low. 

40. Tech Repair

Handy with hardware? Fix up other people’s computers, phones, or other technical issues that need repair. 

At the end of the day, a successful business is defined by its ability to solve a problem that its customer base has. So if you have any ideas that would solve someone’s problems, but are not on this list, don’t shy away from them! As long as the business is profitable (revenue is greater than expenses) and provides a quality service or product to customers you’re good to go! Good luck with your next venture!

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