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When I turned 16, the first thing I did was get my driver’s license. And the second thing was to get a job. My idea of a job was to work at a local fast food restaurant, and later a grocery store. My first “real” job (I delivered newspapers at a young age) paid $3.35 an hour.

My how things have changed. Today, it’s very difficult where we live for our children (both in high school) to find jobs. Our economy is in such sorry shape that most jobs that once went to high school kids are now going to adults trying to make ends meet.

So the thought occurred to me that high school students should think about starting their own business, rather than getting a job. It’s a topic I’ve talked to my kids about, although it has yet to take hold. I’ll keep trying.

There are several benefits for high school students who start a business rather than getting a traditional job:

  • You get to set your own hours;
  • The potential is there to make a lot more money;
  • Running a business can teach you skills far beyond what you’d learn at a job; and
  • Who knows, maybe the business will flourish into a life-long carrer.

So with those benefits in mind, here are 10 business ideas for high school students:

  1. Start an online business – This is my favorite option for high school kids. The potential income is huge, and all it takes is a computer and internet connection. You can start a blog for next to nothing. In fact, about the only cost you’ll have is to host the site, and hosting costs just a few dollars a month with companies like Bluehost. And your online business can cover just about any topic that interests you.
  2. Develop an iPhone app – If you are an iPhone and computer whiz, developing an iPhone app could be a great business. Develop a game or application for the iPhone and sell it through Apple. You’ll receive payment for the license and royalties for each sale. If this is of interest to you or someone you know, I encourage you to read this great article on developing iPhone apps from Smashing Magazine.
  3. Lawn mowing & landscaping labor – There are millions of lawns out there needing your expert trimming and mowing skills. With a sharpened blade and a little elbow grease, you can easily bring in $100 – $200 per day during the summer. The key is to treat this like a business. You’ll need to advertise your services, show up on time, and treat your customers like, well, customers.
  4. Snow Removal – I’m not talking about taking a shovel and going door to door the morning of a big snow, although that’s fine, too. I’m talking about a snow removal business. This would involve getting customers in advance of the big snow. It may involve getting some commercial customers. And it would likely involve buying some equipment. While a truck and plow might be out of the question, a two-stage snow blower would let you clear a lot of know. This would also complement a landscaping business you might run during the spring, summer and fall.
  5. Babysitting – After taking a few free courses in CPR and emergency techniques at your local YMCA, you will be ready to start a babysitting service. There are plenty of small children within a few miles of your home (as well as elderly people too) whose parents or caregivers need a little time on their own. The prevailing rates are dictated by your area and your own skills.  To register with an online service, visit SitterCity.com.
  6. Academic Tutoring – Are you a computer whiz, expert at math, science, language arts or history? Do you know of fellow students struggling to pass a course?  You can provide your services as a tutor in a discipline of your expertise. A good place to start is with your area schools. They will often refer students to available tutors. And you can of course advertise the old fashioned way–neighborhood flyers.
  7. Music Lessons – If you love music and have developed a strong ability to play a musical instrument, consider giving paid lessons. You’ll likely enjoy the work and your hours will be flexible. And once you get students, they are likely to stay with you for a long time if you do a good job.
  8. Pet Care– As a proud owner of a shitzu, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to find a pet sitter for a day or two. And some families need daily care for their pets because both spouses work. To take advantage of this opportunity, you can go door to door leaving flyers offering your services as an animal sitter. Many people are in need of this service and are far more willing to hire someone from the area than a service.

The rest is up to you.  You can create any high paying job right now with just a little imagination, effort and ingenuity. All you have to do is think outside the box, use your noggin, skills and talent to create a job market that is both lucrative and enjoyable.

Article comments

CreditShout says:

Thanks for the great tips! These would work for anyone looking to earn a little extra money though, not just high school students.

Very useful tips for the high school students “must read”.

jaki says:

“high paying jobs”?
I don’t think any of these ideas would qualify in all honesty ­čÖü

Sammy says:

Jaki is right. None of these are jobs and none of them are high paying.

Clay Boggess says:

Teaching students to think outside the box while they are young will help them when they get older. You never know. Attempting something innovative and different may eventually turn into something bigger down the road.

Dave says:

Tutoring is such a good option, and I’m surprised more students don’t do it. The key is to get a good system going: decide what you could teach, block out some time every week to do it, and get the word out.

Getting a experience while you are in school of running your own business can come in really handy when you graduate and start a business or your high school business might become your real business with time.

Glen Naughty says:

Great ideas,

It’s EZY, almost as if it’s ABC,

My friends Melissa & Doug just started .xxx domains on GoDaddy.com. They can be up & selling educational hardcore underage porn 2 their classmates with just ten minutes online training.

The school yard is jam full of potential new customers who adore Godaddy role model model & carry US Bank visa debit cards

A hidden Showerhead spy camera in the Athletics Gym changing room makes content cheap 2 produce, & yields a profit 2 the tune Wall Street investmenst banks drool


We’ve had a few students on our books who have used it to supplement their studies. Granted, I wouldn’t call it ‘lucrative’, it is certainly one of the better opportunities out there to earn money while you study.

ChristianPF says:

I’m living proof that you can start a blog online and succeed financially! There are many people out there who are making money on their blogs. The key is to find a blog niche that you’re highly passionate about. Then, keep at it. Be consistent. Do hard work! Eventually you’ll see an income – but for most its a very difficult thing to not see an income for several years before the blog becomes popular. High school students, college students, or just about anyone willing to learn can do it.