How to Start a Business in High School

Padya Paramita

How to Start a Business in High School

If you’re passionate about creating a product or service that you believe your community needs, or you’ve got your eyes on one of the top undergraduate business programs, you might be wondering how to start a business in high school. It could be an overwhelming process to think about, but if you’re determined and committed to your cause, it’s far from impossible. So the question becomes, how do you even begin?

Even knowing that this is what you want to do, executing your business plan is a big step. Take a deep breath and sit down to draw out your ideas and goals carefully. No successful business was created in a day. To guide you through understanding how to start a business in high school, I’ve outlined important stages in brainstorming your idea, gathering funds, and taking the final steps to make sure that you can get your business rolling.

Brainstorming Your Business Ideas

There is a whole world of options when it comes to thinking about what you might want your business to include. To narrow down your choices, ask yourself the following three questions:

  • Which subjects and areas are you most passionate about?
  • Where can see yourself thriving in the future?
  • What do you think your community lacks or would benefit from the most?

You need to be observant and open minded throughout your brainstorming process. First, think critically about what kind of entrepreneurial idea you’re hoping to initiate - are you interested in creating a service or a product? You could offer a service - you might have a skill that you want to market, such as babysitting, cooking, or computer repairing. Any of these could be turned into a business, such as a babysitting group for hire in your neighborhood, catering service that helps out with events in your community, or fixing computers in your school or area. 

On the other hand, you might want to create a product, which usually refers to a physical object for sale. For products too, you can think about the skills you have in order to create your business. If you’re a computer science enthusiast, you might want to make a technological device. If you’re interested in fashion design, you can think about introducing a clothing line. A product might be trickier to execute as you would have to identify distribution channels — perhaps sell it to a local store or even a major retailer such as Target or Walmart, depending on the type of good. Alternatively, you could start an online store or use a site such as Etsy.

To make sure your business appeals to people, consider the basic economic principles of demand and supply. Is there something your neighborhood, school, or community wants that there isn’t enough of? How can you capitalize on that increasing demand and lack of supply?

Market Research

Another big part of exploring your idea is to know your target audience. Consider whom you’re planning to market your product towards and how you can help them. Some factors to consider:

  • Demographics - Would your business focus on a particular age, ethnicity, or social group?
  • Location - Do you have to think about the weather or infrastructure when planning your business? What location would be ideal for your business?
  • Profession - Would your service or product appeal most to people who possess certain skills?

So, to conceptualize how to start a business in high school, you must conduct research on what is needed or in demand, what you can provide with the skills that you have, and the kinds of people you want to target.

You also need to conduct competitor research. In order to stand out from other businesses that offer similar products or services, you should be very aware of your competitors and how to diversify what you sell from what they produce. If you start a catering service, you might be competing against other companies that serve food at different events. If you’re starting a fashion line, think about what kind of clothes aren’t already available in your neighborhood. If local boutiques don’t deliver, you could include delivery with yours. Your brainstorming sessions should be dedicated to figuring out what would appeal to your audience and how to differentiate yourself.  

Setting a Price

Since you are selling your product or service, you obviously need to set a price. Again, this goes back to the type of business you’ve created and what you’re offering. Think about the scarcity of your goods and consider whether it’s worth setting a relatively high price. You could have tiered price levels for different levels of services. For example, a catering service could have a standard price set for appetizers and entrees. If a client wishes to add on other items, such as dessert or beverages, they would be charged a higher price. 

Prices might also change based on whether or not your products come in different models. If you’re launching a type of gadget, newer models would be charged higher prices than older ones, since the new ones would ideally have better specifications. Think about how the latest iPhone is always the most expensive! That’s a good price model to follow when considering how to charge your products.

Executing Your Business

When you’re thinking about how to start a business in high school, you need to figure out the means you have for actually creating your product and materials to facilitate your service. If you’re starting your own clothing line, you need to purchase fabric and a sewing machine. You need to dedicate a significant amount of time bringing your designs to life. Or, if you’re starting a catering service, you need to buy ingredients to cook your food and create recipes that can surpass the quality of your competitors.

A lot of grunt work goes into taking your business idea and turning it into reality. You should expect to deal with a range of obstacles, such as:

  • Prototypes
  • Physical workspace if necessary
  • Networking with partners/co-workers
  • Permits
  • A corporate bank account
  • Corporation status

Make a checklist to ensure that you don’t miss any of the necessary steps.

You also need to comply with the laws of your area. Different cities have different protocols for running a company that you need to be aware of so that you don’t get into any trouble. If you know someone who’s an attorney or accountant, consult with them on how to carry out the different financial technicalities. They can inform you more on any legal procedures you have to take note of and tax forms that you might have to fill.

Publicizing Your Business

Once you have your products or the means of executing your service, it’s time to brainstorm how to spread the word about your business. Your first thought might be social media, and naturally so, because using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can very quickly get the word out. You can also modify your posts and ads to match your target audience and clearly outline what your business produces and how it can help people. You should also create a website for your business – if you’re not an expert coder, don’t worry. Platforms such as Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly can all help you get there through pre-available templates. A website is useful to directly tell your audience about what you do, to view photos of your product or service, as well as provide potential clients with information about the best way to contact you.

You can take the old-fashioned route and advertise using flyers. You can print ads in your local or school newspaper, ask it to be included in morning announcements, and hand out flyers across your school or neighborhood. 

Finally, note that people are your greatest resources. Your friends and family can help you spread the word, and you can recruit them to help. Colleges are impressed by students who not only assert themselves as leaders, but include their community in their projects and develop teamwork skills. 

Gathering Funds

To ensure you have everything necessary for your business, you obviously need some starting funds. So, how do you even get money before you’ve started selling your product? You could use a website such as Kickstarter or GoFundMe to pitch your project to the world and again using social media, share with your family and friends.

You might also want to look into business and innovation-centric summer programs, such as LaunchX. LaunchX has been created for business-oriented individuals thinking about how to start a business in high school who have ideas and can benefit from mentorship and financial support. By participating in such a program, you can learn more about business and finances, as well as hone your collaboration skills, problem-solving abilities, and take advantage of the resources provided to get your business started. LaunchX has helped students start successful startups and businesses such as Nilo, Foundery, and Savy.

You might think that your age and circumstances put you at a disadvantage, but it’s certainly not unheard of for high schoolers to become successful entrepreneurs. If your query about how to start a business in high school is something you’re genuinely interested in pursuing, you should go for it. Think carefully about what you want to produce and how to execute its creation, followed by finding the right outlets for your target audience. Who knows, this could be the beginning of a very promising entrepreneurial career. 

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