9 Ideas for Teen Businesses

Babysitting
For decades babysitting has been a steadfast way for young adults to earn extra money. Many parents find it very difficult to find dependable babysitters. So if you're reliable and do a good job, you can be guaranteed babysitting work for many years and a ton of referral business when your customers start telling their friends about you. Babysitting can also really pay off monetarily, especially during peak holiday times such as New Year's and Christmas when you can easily charge $15 per hour. You can even charge more if you are willing to also do light housekeeping duties such as laundry and cleaning. Start in your own neighborhood and deliver fliers promoting your service; it will probably only take a day two for the calls from eager parents to start rolling in. I would also suggest that take a first aid training course, as this will make a positive impression on nervous parents and give you the ability to handle an emergency should it happen.

Pet Sitting
Lots of people have dogs, cats, birds and other types of pets that are not suited to be boarded at kennels or left with friends or family when the need arises, such as pets with chronic health conditions or exotic pets for whom finding suitable boarding is difficult. Likewise, many people prefer to have their pets stay in the safety and familiar surroundings of home, as opposed to an unfamiliar boarding environment. When these pet owners are away from home there is only one available solution--hire a pet sitter to come to their homes to care for their beloved pets while they are away. Sometimes this means having to stay with pets overnight or for even longer periods of time, but for the most part, you can simply check in on the pets two to three times per day (before and after school, and again at night) to feed them, walk them, and provide companionship.

Market your pet-sitting services by talking to neighbors, and through pet-related businesses in your community such as veterinarians, pet food retailers, dog trainers, dog walkers, and pet grooming services. Remember that many people also hire pet sitters for short periods of time--a weekend away, a night out, or time off for family events. Therefore, you will need to develop a fee schedule for both long- and short-term pet-sitting jobs. Sign out a copy of Start Your Own Pet-Sitting Business by Cheryl Kimball from your local library for additional information about starting a pet-sitting business.

Snow Shoveling & Raking Leaves
Depending on your investment budget and how much money you want to earn, there are basically two methods for removing snow from walkways and driveways and de-icing surfaces during winter months. One option is to purchase a self-propelled snow blower as well as a manual salt spreader for de-icing. Both pieces of equipment are walk-behind models and would require a truck or trailer to move from job to job if you plan on working far from home. This allows you to make more money because you can do the work quicker and service a larger customer base.

The second option is the good old "Armstrong" method. Armed with nothing more than a $20 shovel and bag of salt, you can shovel snow and de-ice surfaces by spreading the salt by hand. If funds are tight, then this is the best way to get started. Regardless of the option you choose, snow shoveling and surface de-icing is an easy service to start, operate and sell, mainly because shoveling snow is hard work and you'll find lots of property owners will to part with a few bucks so they don't have to do it themselves. Even though this is a seasonal and weather-dependent opportunity, it's not uncommon for motivated young people to earn as much as $100 per day and more when the snow blows.

If you want to earn more money year-round, you can also offer customers additional services like garden tilling, grass cutting, and light yard maintenance. A particularly good opportunity in autumn is raking leaves. Okay, so you might not get rich raking leaves, but you can earn as much as $100 a day raking and bagging leaves for a month or so each fall. This opportunity requires little in the way of explanation, other than to say that raking leaves is hard work that requires a strong back. On a positive note, startup funding requirements are minimal--a rake and a pair of gloves and you're in business. Securing customers is as easy as approaching your snow-shoveling clientele or taking a walk in the neighborhood and knocking on doors to offer your service. I would suggest that you charge in the range of $10 per hour for the service, plus the cost of bags.

Growing Herbs
Here is a fun moneymaking opportunity that can be right for anyone because startup costs are minimal and even a small backyard herb garden can generate lots of extra cash. Herbs can be divided into three primary categories: culinary herbs used in cooking, such as basil, sage, chives, dill, parsley, rosemary and thyme; fragrant herbs used in potpourri and essential oils, such as tansy, clove, rue, thyme and chamomile; and medicinal herbs, such as borage, catnip, ginseng, pennyroyal and valerian. Regardless of the types of herbs you grow and sell, they're always in big demand.

The first step is to get educated about herbs and herb gardening, which can be accomplished by reading books on the topic, joining herb-growing clubs, and obtaining information about herb gardening online. Next, devise a plan outlining the types of herbs you will grow and how each will be marketed. The plan doesn't have to be sophisticated--it just has to outline the basics such as production costs, marketplace and potential, pricing, and selling methods. Herbs can be sold in a wide variety of ways, including direct to the customer as plants or as a finished product, wholesale sales to retail stores and bulk herb buyers, and selling direct to restaurants and catering companies. A very helpful book on the topic is Growing and Selling Herbs and Herbal Products by Rob and Terry Adams.

Run Errands
Let's face it, today's' busy lifestyles means that many working folk don't have time for even the simplest of errands. Which is great news if you're a multi-tasker looking to start your own simple, inexpensive, yet potentially very profitable part-time business. An errand service involves doing things like picking up groceries or taking the family pet to the veterinarian for a routine checkup. It can be operated with nothing more than a cell phone and reliable transportation. Land clients by creating a simple marketing brochure explaining the services you provide along with your contact information. The brochures can be pinned to community bulletin boards, hand delivered to homes and businesses, and distributed with the local newspaper. A few promotional items such as pens and memo pads emblazoned with your business logo, name and telephone number given out to current and potential customers will go a long way as a gentle reminder of your fast, reliable and affordable errand services. This is the kind of business where growth is fuelled by referrals, so customer service and satisfaction are the most important goals.

For even more business ideas, read 202 Ways to Make Big Bucks and Stop Mooching Off Your Parents, the book from which this article is excerpted.

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