Free and Low Cost Business Ideas for Teens

Portrait of teenage girl using laptop

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Teens are less likely than ever to get an after-school job. In fact, a 2019 report by the Pew Research Center found that only 35% of teens get summer jobs (and even fewer get jobs during the school year).

That's not to say today's teens are lazier than ever. There can be lots of challenges that complicate traditional employment for teens.

Lack of transportation, being too young to get a job, or lack of job opportunities are just a few of the reasons some teens struggle to find work. But, if your teen still wants to earn money, starting a business may be an option.

Surveys show the vast majority of young people want to own a business someday. Thanks to TV shows like the Shark Tank, becoming an entrepreneur has become a big dream for many teenagers and young adults. 

The good news is, your teen can start a small business at any age. And there are many small businesses that cost very little to launch. 

Here are a few businesses that almost any teen could start with little to no cost:

Web Site Designing

Teens often take their computer skills for granted because they’ve grown up surrounded by technology. Not only do most of them take classes that enhance their computer skills, but most teens spend a lot of time playing on computers.

Even without advanced training, many teens have computer skills far beyond the skills of the average adult. Teens who understand the basics of website design can earn money creating basic websites for small businesses. There are lots of web design programs that make building websites a fairly simple process for technology-savvy teens.


With typically low pay but huge responsibility, babysitting is a common part-time and summer job for young workers. Teens should learn basic first aid and possess skills working with children. Teens who receive high recommendations from parents are likely to be in high demand, which can allow them to increase their pay.

Creating and Selling Crafts

From yarn bracelets to homemade soap, teens can earn a handsome paycheck manufacturing and selling crafts. Crafts can be sold in a variety of places, from online auction sites to local stores. A teen who finds success selling homemade items may earn a chance to sell those products to retail stores.

Lawn Service

Lawn mowing is another common job for teen workers but some treat their lawn mowing services as a real business. They acquire many customers and offer a variety of services. Some teens starting lawn mowing businesses have grown these start-ups into full-time careers.

Landscaping, tree grooming, and other basic lawn services can be combined with lawn mowing. Any teen wanting to start a lawn mowing service should be dependable, however, so that customers can count on getting their lawn taken care of according to their needs.


A teen who is good at bargain shopping may find success buying and reselling items. Plenty of people earn a decent living by shopping at their local thrift stores and then selling the items on auction sites, like eBay.

Clearly, your teen will need a little start-up money to purchase the initial items. And as with any business, there’s some risk involved because the items may not sell for more money. But, it can be a wonderful learning opportunity for a teen.

Seasonal Jobs

For some teens, a seasonal business will work best. A teen who is too busy during the school year to commit to employment may do best with a summer business for example.

Other teens may be busy with family vacations, sports camps, and recreational activities during the summer and may only be able to manage a business during the winter.

Seasonal businesses can include anything from gardening to snow shoveling.


Blogging isn’t an easy way to make money, but many people have created highly successful blogs that allow them to earn a lot of money with advertising space.

Similarly, popular YouTube videos can help people earn money. But, your teen should understand that it isn’t an easy way to get rich, and it can take a lot of work to get a blog started.

Graphic Design

Artistic teens may be able to earn some decent money through graphic design. The internet has opened up possibilities for any aged artist to create and sell drawings, logos. Teens can use various software programs to create images and there are many websites where teens can advertise their creations and offer their services.

1 Source
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  1. Desilver D. Pew Research Center. Fewer teens have summer jobs than in 2000- and the jobs have changed. 2019.

By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, an international bestselling author of books on mental strength and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. She delivered one of the most popular TEDx talks of all time.