September 22, 2023

For many teens, entrepreneurship is a desirable career that’s regularly showcased on social media. 
About 60% of 13- to 17-year-old respondents reported wanting to start their own business instead of working as an employee, according to a December survey by the nonprofit youth organization Junior Achievement. Additionally, nearly two in five teens surveyed said their inspiration for entrepreneurship came from influencers and celebrities. 
It helps that some successful influencers are earning more than America’s top CEOs. For example, Charli D’Amelio booked $17.5 million last year, according to Forbes, while the median pay for CEOs of S&P 500 companies was $13.4 million in 2020, according to The Wall Street Journal
While starting a business, regardless of a founder’s age, is no small feat, today’s environment is ripe for entrepreneurial hopefuls. For example, inexpensive technologies like social media and online marketplaces give founders multiple pathways to potential customers, Dave Mawhinney, an entrepreneurship professor and executive director at Carnegie Mellon University, previously told Insider.
Here’s why now is the best time to start a business for young people and two Gen Z entrepreneurs who have done it. 
Starting a business is a risky decision: About 20% of US small businesses fail within the first year, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. But Gen Z founders know they have backup options if their startup sinks: There were 11.4 million job openings before the start of May, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Additionally, returning to school is another avenue for founders who close their businesses. Jackie Dubois, now 21, was a student at the University of Miami when she started her art company, Jacqueline Dubois LLC, in May 2020. She posted and promoted her work on TikTok and Instagram and earned six figures in revenue in 2021, according to documents verified by Insider. 
But Dubois’s relationship with social media turned toxic and she decided to close her accounts. With college as a viable backup, Dubois re-enrolled while taking a step back from the business to focus on her mental health. 
“Social media was the reason I was able to take a year off of school, find a warm and wonderful audience for my art, and do what I love full time,” Dubois said. 

Alyssa Nguyen

Alyssa Nguyen.
Courtesy of Alyssa Nguyen

When the pandemic sent workers home, many people sought ancillary income and ways to fill their free time. Meanwhile, the combination of virtual talent, available digital tools, and low startup costs created a ripe environment for entrepreneurial hopefuls, Axios reported. 
Those factors helped 22-year-old Alyssa Nguyen start her eponymous graphic-design business. After she was sent home from her junior year of college in March 2020 and the internship she had lined up was canceled, Nguyen needed to make money. She started to teach herself graphic design and launched her startup at the end of 2020. Last year, she booked $170,000 in revenue, which Insider verified with documentation. 
New ventures in copywriting, social media management, and virtual assisting have been among some of the most successful, Mawhinney said. And many Gen Zers have the skills necessary for these businesses due to their social media literacy, adaptability to virtual schooling, and constant digital communication. 
“COVID-19 was really hard, but in some ways it’s the reason that I have the life that I have right now,” Nguyen said. “It’s the only way it would’ve ever been able to fit designing and running a business into a full-time school schedule.”
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