Enterprise Inc.

Pensive woman with a ponytail, questions attack

How to start your own business while you’re still in high school.

By Danielle Castonzo

When I was in college, my friend and I started a business. We had no previous experience in entrepreneurship, but we weren’t happy with the fitness apps available on the market. So we decided to create our own. We designed an app, made a website and got community business members involved, and for a wild three months, I was the co-owner of a business.

Starting our own business had always seemed impossible, but that experience taught me that truly anyone can be an entrepreneur. We just needed a problem, a solution and the motivation to carry it through.

It may sound daunting, but starting a business when you’re still in high school is a great way to challenge yourself, be creative, learn a lot about one of your passions and (if you’re lucky!) make some money.

It’s also one of the best ways to make your college applications stand out. Starting a business is not an easy thing to do, and it demonstrates that you have initiative and are not intimidated by big challenges. Obviously, this is not the only reason to take on such a project, but it’s a big incentive for high schoolers with a passion for entrepreneurship and extra time on their hands.

Woman on concrete wall with business sketches

So if you’ve ever dreamed of being an entrepreneur, these seven tips can help you launch your first business endeavor before you’ve graduated high school:

  1. Find a problem and solve it. It doesn’t have to be a giant, overwhelming issue. Are you having a hard time finding babysitting jobs? Are you frustrated that you can’t find reasonably priced, ethically-made backpacks? Most likely, there are other people who have the same frustration, and these are your potential customers.
  2. Research your market. If you hope to start a business selling vegan baked goods, research other businesses selling vegan pastries in your community. Check out their websites and social media pages. Find out where they sell their products, and request informational interviews with the founders.
  3. Find your customers. Imagine who your clients might be: Are they other people at your school? Are they parents of your friends? Once you’ve identified your customers, run your business idea by them, and don’t be afraid to change course based on their feedback.
  4. Seek out a mentor. This could be a teacher, a local business owner or even a parent. Find someone who has business experience and connections and is willing to give constructive criticism as your business develops. You’re more likely to finish a project with someone to give guidance and hold you accountable.
  5. Gain work experience. No matter what kind of business you’re hoping to start, expanding your career skills can help you grow your project. Taking on part-time jobs or internships, even if they are unpaid, will provide insight, connections and skills that you can apply to your endeavor.
  6. Pick a project you’re passionate about. If you aren’t super excited about this project two weeks in, you won’t stick with it. For example, if math is your least favorite subject, you won’t make any money starting a math tutoring business because you will get bored and quit. Let the math geniuses handle tutoring; instead, launch the trendy knitted-hat business of your dreams. You’ll have way more fun and be more successful working on something you enjoy.
  7. Get inspired. If you’re excited about entrepreneurship and the prospect of starting your own business, read books by other people who have done it. Listen to podcasts about start-ups and entrepreneurship. Post pictures on your wall of the type of business you’d like to have and the kind of entrepreneur you hope to be.

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