To make your teen business happen, you’re going to need equpiment, startup money, tools, training, people and an environment to work and trade in. This guide will walk you through some of the basics of nailing down some of the essential resources you’ll need.

  1. Money - How to find and manage financial resources, even on a minuscule budget
  2. Work Environment - How to set yourself up to work and get things done
  3. Training - How to find the help and advice to make your business a reality
  4. Human Resources - How to manage yourself, hire people and outsource to make better use of your time.

What would you suggest? Share your thoughts with hundreds of teenagers here

So starting with startup money...

The Magic of Bootstrapping

In the startup business world, you’ll hear about “bootstrapping” a lot. It basically means “making do with what you’ve already got” and not taking on more investment. A lot of businesses are addicted to external investment so they can spend their way through problems. Yes, there’s a lot of sense in this BUT...

I think bootstrapping your first teen businesses is the most beneficial thing you can do. It forces you to economise, make decisions and prioritise. It means you can focus on doing just a few things right, and when they happen you feel that much more excited because it was all your own work.

More importantly, bootstrapped companies have to make money first. That’s the priority. And its a healthy habit to get into as a teenage entrepreneur. Jason Fried sums it up nicely here...

The other thing, is borrowing money, be that your parents or a fully-blown venture capitalist, is the company is then theirs as well. That means you can’t build a company that’s necessarily all about the customer and your vision might get distorted.

If you're still struggling to find money to startup, consider getting a part time job for a short time, selling unwanted your stuff on eBay or doing errands for money for your neighbours.

More Articles on Bootstapping

  1. The Art of Bootstrapping
    Guy Kawasaki, author of The Art of Start, shares his top 11 tips for bootstrapping

  2. How to Bootstrap
    Fast, actionable guide how to get started bootstrapping your business.

  3. The Bootstrapping Bible [PDF]
    Thorough eBook guiding you to starting and bootstrapping your business

  4. Advice from Founders Who Bootstrapped Their Way to Success
    TechCrunch covers the startup and online business world extensively. Here, a selection of TC-covered entrepreneurs share their bootstrapping advice.

When and how to take Investment

Start your teen business, and only when you literally can’t make the next move, should you take on investment. If you can’t afford to put your prototype into production, or shoot your dream film or the funds to get your video game made then ask your friends and family for money.

Consider starting a Kickstarter project to get a small startup fund (a few hundred dollars is perfectly acceptable) once you’ve got a clear idea of how you’re project is going to pan out. Kickstarter is a platform for you to get funding for creative projects from lots of different people for a project in exchange for “rewards” which you choose. (Its also a great way of asking your friends and family for money without sounding like you’re begging!)

Its all-or-nothing. Its free to get started. Its awesome, and you should check it out. Here’s a great video interview with the folks from Kickstarter:

You should also take a look at these two articles on Kickstarter success stories:

Create Your Perfect Business Environment

In the time that you have to work on your teen business, its really important that you make the most of it. Easy access to a computer with internet connection is vital; being able to surf the web, type and store all your files quickly and reliably.

I suggest a laptop for a good mix of functionality and portability - together, you’ll have the flexibility to be able to work on your business at odd hours such as the norm with teen businesses.

You need a desk and some quiet, uninterrupted space to be able to work on your business. Sure, have music on but make sure its on your terms. Interruption is the enemy of productivity, and you’ll really need the space to work, especially if you’re only able to work on your business an hour or so each day.

Let your parents and anyone in your house know if you’re working or not. Some kind of signal on the door or something - don’t be a douchebag about it, but mutual understanding that you need to knuckledown.

I also suggest some kind of notepad and sticky notes, both for noting down ideas as they come to you (especially when you’re trying to sleep!), so I note them down for the next morning) and for creating to-do lists. I use a mix of sticky notes, my iPod Touch and a free tool from 37signals called Ta-Da Lists.

Finding the Best Training

Everyone's got to start from somewhere. Chances are you've never created a bestselling book before, sold hundreds of DVDs a day on Amazon or really fine-tuned your consulting techniques. That's why you need training.

The internet's great for finding experts who know how to tutor you - and if people are good, they’ll send off all sort of signals. If you come across a YouTube video of someone speaking to an audience (which is paying in time and attention) it says something good about how credible they are. Google their name, find their blogs, books and Twitter accounts and just start reading.

Books Are Great.

Online, you will get a lot of rubbish, as well as a lot of people trying to sell “information” (avoid this. they’re not aimed at you). Books are incredibly cheap for what they are; most of the cost is spent on paper. For the expertise you can get (guided by Amazon book reviews), its my single best recommendation for learning about business and specific industries.

For suggested everyday reading and videos, I suggest setting up a Twitter account. No, its not all about tweeting where you are all the time - the real value comes from being able to ‘follow’ journalists, blogs and influential people who are constantly sharing what they find interesting. Then using tools like Summify and you can get customized emails and “newspapers” based entirely on your interests on Facebook and Twitter.

I also suggest using some kind of online bookmarking service - I like StumbleUpon You signup, add your interests, and click ‘stumble’. StumbleUpon then serves up a website which its found, other users have liked and shows it on screen. You then ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ it, and StumbleUpon then tailors your next recommendations accordingly. You can then also ‘thumb up’ new content which is added to the whole index, and all your ‘thumbs up’ appear in your favourites for you to find later. Its awesome!

Building Your Perfect Team

Often, its best to start out on your own and only be accountable to yourself. That way you can get something up and running; you alone are forced to make money and that’s a good practice. With the number of online tools as well, working alone is perfectly doable.

If you like, and be selective here, getting friends and family involved in your business can be a smart way of gaining extra resources. You’re not being a charity by giving them a job or any money - don’t ever feel pressured into doing that. Outline clear roles with clear compensation in writing - a percentage of profits? monthly pay check?

Only hire when it hurts. Only ever take on extra help if you desperately need it, and it pays for itself. And make sure you understand the role your hiring for - do it yourself first.

Also, consider outsourcing. Online resources like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, Craigslist, Elance and Fiverr make it easy to farm out tasks to the lowest bidder all over the world. You’ve got to be smart and in control outsourcing; take a look at the Beginners Guide to Outsourcing Effectively.

Go to the Next Chapter: Build a Faculty of Business Mentors

Having business-minded people who really care about what you're doing is the fastest business accelerator for teen entrepreneurs. Here's how you build your team of trusted advisors.

Teen Business Strategy Guide | Previous: Personal Strengths | Next: Business Mentors

Return from Resources to Your Teen Business

Go to the Next Chapter

  1. Your Vision
    Why dreaming big can have such a huge impact on your business, but how "getting real" is what will make your dream a reality.

  2. Personal Strengths
    How and why to build a business based on your personal strengths, why you should embrace your limitations and how to maximize your talents.

  3. Passion
    Passion is that unusual force that means you wake up in the morning; here, you'll learn why money doesn't equal passion, how to find your passion and what to do with it.

  4. Resources
    How to get all the people, the money, the kit and the training you need to make your business actually happen. Without this, you'll be forever frustrated.

  5. Business Mentors
    Having experienced experts guiding you through this whole "business" landscape is the single fastest-accelerator for your teen business. Discover the secrets to successful networking here.

  6. Masters of Marketing
    Marketing is the single most misunderstood part of everyday business. Here, get introduced to the Masters of Marketing who will really teach you how to win customers.

  7. Make It Happen!

    Its great having a strategy to this elaborate business of yours, but its another thing to actually make it happen. This is your guide to getting things done

teen business forum

Join the community of teenage entrepreneurs at Teen Business Forum - and be sure to check out the Teen Business Forum blog too.


The ideas in this guide were inspired by lots of different books and videos, but none more so than Rework. Written by the guys at 37signals

Here's a quick summary by Jason Fried of what's in the book

It was also heavily influenced by Cameron Herold's TEDxTalk on Raising Kids to Be Entrepreneurs