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Work for yourself

Want to start your own business?

Question: What do Microsoft, Apple, Dell, Napster, and Facebook all have in common?
Answer: They are all businesses that were started by people under age 22.

Making a huge fortune is inspiring, even though most successful self-employed people earn a living, not a million. If you are independent, optimistic, creative, and hard-working, you might prefer to work for yourself instead of getting a regular job. In fact, many young adults work in the gig economy, offering services to customers directly, or working on a project basis for employers. They often have several projects, contracts, or part-time jobs at the same time.

Need some ideas for self-employment?

  • Social media consulting. Youth is an asset if you want to help small businesses or others use social media to connect with their audiences.
  • Personal trainer. If you have a solid knowledge of physical conditioning and pass a CPR / AED class, you may be able to work as a personal trainer. Certification may be required.
  • Cleaning services. Flexible hours, minimal supplies, and lots of opportunity both in businesses and homes. 
  • Landscaping / snow removal. These are seasonal businesses that require a small investment in equipment to get started, but have a lot of earning potential.
  • Information technology consulting. Use your skills to help less experienced businesses or individuals with their computer issues.
  • Website design. If you have designed websites in school or for groups, you could begin to make a profit at it by finding people or businesses that need web design help.
  • Photography. Websites and other marketing material require a lot of pictures with details related to their particular needs. People also hire personal photographers for weddings, sports, and other events.
  • Electronics repair. Have you fixed your own computers, gaming systems, mp3 players and other small electronics? There may be a need in your area.
  • Craft making. With an artistic eye and the skills to match, you might sell your products at farmers markets, kiosks, and on specialty websites.
  • Renting out. Do you have space at home, a good driving record and your own car, or own equipment that others might want to rent from you?

How do you begin?

  1. First, what is your product or service? Do you have a skill, product, or knowledge to market? Is there an opportunity, or a need that isn’t being met? Do people in your neighborhood have to drive miles for a basic service or item? What do you know, or know how to do, that could help fill that gap?
  2. Who would buy your product or service? Who is your market? Describe who you think would be interested. Can you think of at least three people or organizations to target?
  3. Why will customers want your product or service compared to someone else’s? What unique quality, value, or special aspects would you offer? Better location, faster, more appealing, less expensive, more features, etc. You may need to research other products and services to answer this.
  4. Where will you offer your product or service? Is this a home-based business? Online? Will you go on-site to customers, or need a location to provide the product or service? 
  5. How will you package your product or service, or make it available?
  6. Are there legal requirements for your business? For example, registering a business name, getting a permit or license, or registering for a tax identification number. Find out by using the Small Business Administration website.
  7. What steps do you need, and in which order? Develop a business plan to keep you focused on moving toward your goals.
  8. Find a mentor or business counselor who can give you support, and assurance that nothing will fall through the cracks. Reach out for expertise on everything from equipment, materials, business loans, marketing, accounting and more.
  9. Expect some failures. Do your best to learn from them and try again, or try differently.
  10. Share your knowledge and ideas, help others and contribute to their success.

Resources for self-employment: