Great Summer Businesses to Start Today

Looking for some extra cash this summer? Why get a job flipping burgers when you could start your own business?
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the May 2002 issue of Teen Startups. Subscribe »

( - Ahhhh.summertime. It's just around the corner. And already, you've found yourself daydreaming about how you'll spend those lazy the beach, hanging with your friends and earning some serious cash.

Did that last item stop you in your tracks? It doesn't need to. There are plenty of cool ways for you to be your own boss this summer--and still have time for fun in the sun.

And you'll probably earn more money than you would have if you'd chosen to go the traditional job route. Surveys by YoungBiz staff show that most teens who run their own businesses earn at least 25 percent more than teens who accept typical part-time jobs.

Homegrown Money
Blair Sheridan Barber doesn't mind getting up a little early in the summer--when there's money involved. In fact, for the past few summers, this Phoenix, Maryland, teen has been up at the crack of dawn most days, tending his garden and selling homegrown tomatoes with a sign in his front yard advertising Blair's Tomatoes.

Like many 'treps, Barber ran his business only during the months of June, July and August. Not only was it a good time for growing tomatoes, but it was also a good time for him since it didn't interfere with school.

Barber has made a profit of about $2,400 during the summers he's run the business. Knowing the alternative--working for $6 an hour sacking groceries or slinging burgers and earning only $1,500 for the summer--Barber thinks his business is a pretty cool deal.

Seeing Green
Maybe getting up and heading out to the garden at the crack of dawn isn't at the top of your list of fun things to do. That's OK. There are plenty of summer businesses that can help you see green, even if you don't want to see the light of dawn.

You won't have to go far, either. Many of your customers are right in your own neighborhood. Try these trusty favorites on for size:

  • Car washing: People who care about their cars need them washed at least once a week. Find out what a local car wash charges and set your prices a little lower. If you do a good job, you'll have business all summer.
  • Child care: If you like kids, this is an excellent opportunity. Busy parents today are willing to pay well for a good, dependable sitter. Pass out fliers and let folks know you are available.
  • Lawn care: Offer a complete line of services, including mowing, edging, weeding, trimming and flowerbed maintenance. Or specialize in one service. Make it your goal to build a list of regular weekly customers.
  • Pet care: Today people spend lots of money on pets. Earn some of those bucks for yourself by offering to groom pets, give flea baths, clean fish tanks or pet-sit when your neighbors go on vacation.

Put a Spin on an Old Standby

Cool Tool
Our Start-Up Kits will give you dozens of ideas for businesses to start.

"We encourage teens to use tried-and-true money-makers like car washing and babysitting as a starting point, then personalize their businesses to fit special needs in their communities," says YoungBiz CEO Steve Morris.

A little creativity and extra attention to detail goes a long way. Customers who need a car wash may also need their boat or RV cleaned, for example. Those who hire you to pet-sit may also need pet grooming or carpet cleaning (to remove pet stains). The kids you baby-sit may be prime prospects for craft lessons, baseball coaching or math tutoring.

Reaping the Rewards
Sure, a summer job is about earning some extra cash. But it's more than that--there's no better way to prepare yourself for running your own year-round business.

"The real value of a summer job is what you learn," Morris says. "A young person who is a business owner for the summer is going to learn 10 times more about customer service, business management and planning than the teen who simply mops tables every day."

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