Small Business Ideas for Teens from the Library
It is never too early to start looking into ways of building financial security. When teenagers look into building their own business, they are not only investing in their financial future but also opening up educational and learning opportunities. Jumpstarting a new business can be complex at any age. There are lots of factors and components that go into it. As a teenager there are also added obstacles because they are still minors and often do not have resources independent of their parents. Before getting started, a teenage entrepreneur needs to do a lot of research and find guidance on starting a business. The local public library is a great resource for many reasons. Libraries were created for everyone to be able to gain knowledge. Alongside the endless amounts of materials to browse on the topic, libraries also offer plenty of useful resources that teens can use to learn how to build and grow their businesses.
Reference & Research
There is plenty of setup that goes into running a business. All businesses must follow specific guidelines and business regulations regardless of the age of the entrepreneur. This means that teenagers must read up on local regulations and licenses beforehand, so they aren’t breaking any laws. They would need to run their business as if they were an adult rather than a teen. To get started, they can head to their local library to start learning about the processes they need to adhere to.
The library has invaluable resources for new business owners. Subscription databases and print materials offer a wealth of information for those looking to build knowledge quickly. All of these resources can be easily accessed by anyone for free at the local library. The King County Library System in Washington has an online resource page created just for teens. Beyond including links to tutoring help, news sources, etc. it also has a number of useful eBook databases and learning sites. Gale ebooks is just one example of this. Library patrons can read, email and print articles from this online source just with their library card. It includes a helpful handbook, Business Plans Handbook, that would help new entrepreneurs with ideas for their business plan. This handbook includes ideas for funding opportunities for small businesses as well as information on looking into manufacturing, retail, and service industries. Another tool that the library offers teens is Lynda.com (now known as LinkedIn Learning). This a learning tool with thousands of courses covering topics in software development, design, web development, and business. Online tutorials on this site can be taken at the user’s pace. This means that young business owners can pick up valuable skills that would help them run a successful business and contribute to being a competitive candidate later on in life.
The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh also has a page set up for small businesses and entrepreneurs. These resources are dedicated to “providing access to leading-edge research resources and quality assistance from experienced business librarians.” Topics of interest included on this page pertain to market information, identifying potential competition, partners, and customers, and business plans. The library offers use to their subscription database services to help young people build clients lists and locate business partners. The type of information that is in these databases also allows teen business owners to do research on market trends, competitors, and the industry. For those still creating blueprints for their business, the library provides free business samples that can be accessed digitally or physically through their main library branch. Setting up a business can be one of the biggest hurdles a new business owner faces, which is why the library provides plenty of information online and through free pamphlets available for patrons to pick up.
Designated Learning Spaces
Libraries also have spaces setup for blossoming entrepreneurs to think creatively, build upon their skillset, and explore new ideas. These take place in the form of things such as business incubators, makerspace, etc. These types of spaces are equipped with the tools and resources needed to grow and scale.
The Queens Public Library houses a business incubator for those in their community. It is a virtual program that helps new business owners take their ideas from paper to reality and takes place over a course of eight weeks. It is overseen by a team of business experts and offers help with market research, customer development, business models, etc. The Business Incubator consists of “workshops, peer-led communities, pitch deck development, and one-on-one support.” Types of environments like this can be ideal for new business owners because it offers them a space where they can learn and access expert information while also being supported. These can also be fun because of the friendly competition that gets incorporated. Those participating in the incubator can enter a Pitch Deck Competition at the end to win money that goes toward their small business.
Makerspaces are also a different kind of space stepping foot in libraries. Not only do they have tools for learning and design in one place, they also help library patrons grow creativity, something that will be impactful to anyone entering the world of entrepreneurship. These learning classrooms come equipped with computers, 3D printers, a variety of programs, creative tools, etc. Teens can take advantage of makerspaces at their local library or at their school libraries. This gives them access to opportunities that will grow important skills to run their business.
Programs & Classes
Libraries also offer innovative and fun classes for patrons to take. Their lineup of programming usually covers a wide variety of topics, meaning new business owners have many opportunities to pick up new schools in a low-stress environment. The Carson City Library recently offered virtual coding classes for preteens via Zoom. Classes happen on a monthly basis and are open to all skill levels. The Prescott Valley Public Library also had a number of events lined up in the calendar that would be of interest for those pursuing entrepreneurships. Recent topics included Android essentials and website growth. Taking advantage of the library’s event calendar is one of the best ways to get involved with learning new skills that would benefit a small business.
Another example of programming that teens can participate in are local business competitions. Cecil County worked with the local library to provide a three-week small business program for high schoolers that connected entrepreneurs to resources. These initiatives engaged youth throughout the summer and was a great opportunity to emphasize college and career readiness. The program included three sessions that focused on different goals from preparing teens to start a business through brainstorming and strategizing to writing business plans and identifying target markets with a business librarian. The culmination of the program was a business showcase open to the public where participants could creatively present their ideas and pitch their plans. Prize money could then be invested into the individual’s business.
Libraries & Critical Learning
Small businesses are beneficial for local communities, the economy, and the individual. Teens that experience these events early on develop important skills that help them become successful entrepreneurs and adults in the future. Libraries play a key role in these critical learning areas and empower and support teens to pursue their business goals.