How to start a business while in high school


Photo by Kori Tuttle

Kori Tuttle, Reporter

Most high school students want more cash in their pockets, and so do their parents. These young adults can be seen making minimum wage at a job they hate, which can be necessary; students need to work a job like that at some point in their life.

But there are other ways to make a little money on the side, to use for what teens actually want to do.

I realized I could be making money doing something I was good at and had access to the resources I needed. For teens, it is possible to use their skills and experience to start a small business and make money in high school. Here is where to start.

First, there needs to be a product or service to sell. A Japanese concept called Ikigai can help anyone find what they have to offer. Ask yourself these four questions: What are you good at? What do you love? What can you be paid for? What does the world need?

According to the Ikigai chart, people should find a product or service to sell that can cross over into at least 3 of these categories and they will succeed.

“If you have a solid service to product to sell, then sell it,” said Kaito Davis, senior and small business owner. Davis sells advice on job interviewing, resume help and job searching.

Secondly, there needs to be a space to work in. Any business requires workspace, whether this is possible from a garage with storage for tools, a studio, a computer, or just a room in your house.  Businesses need a space to stay organized and professional. For students cleaning houses, their space will be that of other people’s homes. If someone is doing small engine repair, that would be their garage. Organization is important to maintaining a clean and safe environment to work in.

Lastly, advertisement is key. There is no way something is going to sell without getting out there. Entrepreneurs want to reach their audience in the way that they see things. If they are selling lawn care, a business owner might cater to older people who can’t do it themselves and don’t have teens who live at home who will do it for them. Elderly most likely don’t have social media, so advertising with flyers on people’s doors or a sign in their yard might be more effective. If offering child care, Facebook is probably the way to reach parents. If the business’s audience is the youth of the community, Instagram or Twitter is likely the best advertising outlet.  

I started my business at the end of the summer of 2018. Just about any high school girl doesn’t want to wear the same dress to Prom or Sweethearts. There is always so much stress put on students to find the perfect dress, but prices skyrocket during the dance season. I wanted to help.

I already owned tons of dresses that I was letting friends borrow for dances, so I made an Instagram page, started renting out my dresses for low prices, had photo shoots and soon enough people would be coming over, finding a dress that they felt beautiful in, and I had money to help pay for all my senior year expenses. I am now putting together a studio in my basement with mirrors, a changing room, and clothing racks and my dress collection has tripled. I learned how to advertise, communicate efficiently, collaborate with other small businesses and take my knowledge and turn it into something profitable.

Students also appreciate working with others their age. It can be intimidating trying to make deals and put things together with adults.

When working with other student business owners, Senior Kimby Jackson said, “It was nice because it was a peer, so it was easier to feel comfortable with them and they understood that I am a student as well, and they were willing to work with me with prices.”

Understanding a client’s situation not only makes small business owners more likable, but more personable and relatable as well. More people will want to work with them and they’ll gain skills and become more adjustable to difficult circumstances.

Not only are students helping their peers and contributing to their communities, but they are also gaining new skills that will be valuable in the workplace further down the road. Senior and hat embroiderer Allison Gabbitas said, “It’s kind of stressful, but I’ve learned a lot of skills along the way and helps me practice managing my money.”