Today, 27 million Americans run their own businesses and according to a recent study, 54% of teens want to follow in their footsteps.
Maybe you’ve thought about starting a business or even have a few ideas in mind but aren’t sure where to start - don’t worry, you’re not alone! Two-thirds of teens say the unknown and fear of failure are holding them back from starting a business.
However, hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky says it best: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” In other words, you can’t succeed unless you try.
Take Step’s own founder and CEO, CJ MacDonald, for example. As a teen, he delivered newspapers (waking up at 4am!), started a business selling and trading baseball cards to friends, and even had his own neighborhood car washing and lawn mowing business.
“Growing up I started a lot of different businesses and while they weren’t all successful, they taught me some very important lessons,” MacDonald said. “Building a business takes hard work, passion and a few risks along the way - but that’s how Step came to be.”
Inspired? Good. Now let’s talk about how you can turn some of your ideas into a business.
4 key steps for starting a business
How you approach getting your business started will depend on a lot of things - like the type of business idea you have, how much money you have access to and whether your business will be run by just you or with a partner. In general, though, there are four basic things every business owner needs to do to get their idea up and running.
Find your idea
Whether you already have an idea in mind or are still looking for inspiration, one of the first keys to success is to find something you enjoy doing, that you’re good at, and maybe even know a lot about. Your idea could also be a skill —– like cooking, gaming or even tech support —– that you think others would pay for and is missing from the current business scene.
Test your idea
It’s really important to test your idea before launching a new business. Your idea might be fantastic, but if there isn’t a market for it or you can’t fully implement your idea, you won’t succeed. That’s where testing comes in. In most cases, testing your business idea will involve building a prototype (or sample product) that you can share with friends and family. This will allow you to gather their feedback, make any necessary adjustments and re-test the product or service until you get it right.
Create a business plan
Whether you’re planning to mow your neighbors’ lawns or start a software company, a business plan is an important step that helps give your ideas direction. It’s like a roadmap for your business and should include things like:
How many people you think will want to use your product or service;
What other businesses are doing similar work and how yours can stand out from the competition; and
What kind of funding you’ll need and how you’ll get it - whether you plan to save up or ask friends and family for a loan.
Launch your business
Once you’ve tested your idea, put your business plan on paper and secured any funding you might need, it’s time to take your idea to market!
Business ideas for teens
If you’re still thinking about a business idea, that’s okay too. Not all ideas require a formal business plan but it’s still helpful to take a few minutes to think about what your goals are and how you can get there. In the meantime, here’s a few teen-friendly businesses to consider:
Babysitting. Babysitting is a business with built-in demand. You can amp up your game (and your pay) by becoming CPR or First Aid certified and creating a network with friends to be each other’s substitute sitters.
Lawn care & snow removal. These two go hand-in-hand and aside from a bit of equipment, don’t take much to get off the ground. Look for your perfect customer - someone who doesn’t want to shovel snow or rake leaves themselves, but isn’t ready to hire a big company to do it.
Online resale. You can also make cash from cleaning out your own closet, going thrifting or getting your hands on hard-to-find items and reselling them on sites like eBay, OfferUp or Poshmark.
Social media marketing. If you’re the queen of the ‘gram, a TikTok titan or know how to rack up the likes on Facebook and YouTube, you can offer your marketing services to local businesses. To get started, consider offering your services for free at a coffee shop and once you begin showing results, ask them to start paying or help make introductions to other local businesses.
Tutoring. Plenty of parents are happy to pay for tutoring or test prep if it will help their kids. To get the word out, you can take an old-school approach and put up flyers around your school, local hangouts and your neighborhood, or you could post your services on websites like Nextdoor.
How Step can help get you started
If you’re going to start your own business, you’ll need a way to easily pay for and track both your income and expenses. Downloading the Step App makes this easy and you can even earn some extra cash to put towards your business by referring friends. Come check us out.