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Here's what it's *really* like to start a small business as a teen


In recent years, we've seen a *ton* of small businesses cropping up everywhere — Etsy, Instagram, TikTok — you name it. Starting a small business can be a great way to explore your creative side as well as the entrepreneurship world, and dedicate yourself to something you're really passionate about. The process itself can be a bit daunting, though. We interviewed the creators of two small business to get an insider's perspective on what it's really like to create and run your own.

Sarit and Ella A. are sisters who started their own loungewear shop, Starshine, and Michaela W. is a recently graduated college student who started her own design and prints shop, MintsPrint

Coincidentally, the start of the pandemic was what inspired both creators to start their own small businesses. Sarit says: "We felt like we needed somewhat of a purpose and something to really work hard on when everything was a bit boring at the start of the pandemic. Tie-dye and loungewear were really in at that point, but it was super expensive everywhere, so we thought 'why not try making a few sweatshirts and see where it goes.' We never initially planned on starting a business at the beginning, but we just saw how excited everyone was, and we were having fun creating a brand and company ourseslves, so we kept going from there." 


The initial starting process to create a small business definitiely takes a lot of patience, dedication and work. Michaela shares: "At the start it was definitely a bit slow, but I didn't give up with it. I just kept posting on Instagram, kept creating new designs, started becoming friends with other small businesses on Instagram and just really starting to build a base. At the start of this year, I rebranded the look of MintsPrint, and I think that's when people started to relate to the designs more and it became more popular."

Sarit also shares how the initial starting point was stressful because of how new they were to the process: "At first, we didn't really know how to replicate the exact sweatshirts that everyone was asking for, so it took us a long time to streamline the creating process and make high-quality products that looked like what we were posting. Starting from scratch was definitely a challenge at first, but once we got the hang of it and knew how to ship everything out, handle order details and payments, it got a lot easier to manage the brand." 


The dedication doesn't stop once your business is up and running, though. Day-to-day, there's a lot of creative thought, as well as behind-the-scenes computer work to figure out all the details that keep a small business running. Sarit says: "It's a lot of communication with shoppers, especially people that are DMing us questions. It's also a lot of working out the finances, ordering supplies, figuring out inventory and then physically making and packing the products. There are a ton of trips to the post office to deliver packages, which is always fun!"

Michaela emphasizes the countless hours spent on the creative side: "I would spend hours every single day at my desk, just working on new drawings and illustraions so I could create more prints and post more on social media to build the brand as much as I could. For me, it was a lot of drawing to produce new and creative designs to keep the brand exciting for people." 


The girls at Starshine share that the biggest piece of advice they have for anyone looking to start their own small business is patience: "It might not come as easily as everyone thinks. Its hard to build a clientele and then also keep those clients, so its important to be patient with yourself in the process as someone who's never started a business before. Also, its important to be open to change and thinking outside the box! As time moved forward and more places started selling tie-dye, we had to shift to make sure our brand stayed unique. We bought a cricut machine and started making university hoodies, sorority hoodies and sports products, which people loved. Make sure to personalize your brand and keep things exciting so that your products are something that people can only buy from you." 


From her experience starting MintsPrint, Michaela highlights the importance of having a true passion for your small business: "If you don't enjoy it and its just something you're doing to make sales, then people will definitely tell. You need to really love what you're doing and be able to add personality to your brand, and whatever you're producing needs to come from a place you're really passionate about. Doing something that genuinely makes you happy is really important, and this business makes me happy, so I'm going to keep on doing it!" 


One final piece of advice for starting your own small business? Just go for it — you'll never know how it will go until you try. Sarit shares: "It might be hard to put in the work at first, but if you're confident in what you're selling then it's likely going to go well. Use Instagram and TikTok to your advantage, use hashtags, tell friends and family about it to help get the word out... If you're passionate and excited about what you're selling, then other people will be too!"

Michaela adds: "Don't doubt it, just do it! It's scary at first, but take a little risk by starting it and seeing where it goes. Be consisent with your business, do a lot of research related to your brand and what you're selling, and don't give up on it. The biggest thing is taking that first step to being fully dedicated to creating and growing your own small business." 

Supporting small businesses can be a great way to find products that are more personal, unique and sustainable than bigger brands — not to mention the fact that each and every item is most likely created and packed with love. If you're thinking of buying from a small business or starting your own, take this as your sign to go for it! 

by Maya Camu | 6/30/2021