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  • Writer's pictureThe Parents' Guide to

Do you know why starting a business now can help your teen develop the 12 key transferrable skills?

It can be tricky for teens to get work experience, especially students seeking part-time work to fit around their studies. However, for those teenagers with an entrepreneurial flair, starting a small business from home can help them gain experience and perhaps even make money in the process. If your teen has the enthusiasm and ability, starting their own business needn’t be costly and could give them an edge over others when it comes to interviews. This doesn’t mean full-time commitment – it’s something they could fit around studies or focus on only during school holidays. If things go really well, they may even have the beginnings of a career working for themselves.

Teenage girl making notes at home: The Parents' Guide to
Developing transferrable skills

Why starting a business offers an edge in developing transferrable skills

We often mention transferrable skills, and that’s because they’re desirable. Whether for further education opportunities or to fill job roles, interviewers are trying to ensure they take on someone who is the right fit. There may be a minimum standard of qualifications needed, but they’ll also be looking for personality and skillset. They need to identify the best candidate to benefit from the opportunity on offer as well as someone who can contribute to the growth and success of their department.

There are key characteristics that indicate how well someone will fit within an organization in terms of the way that they work and how they get on with other people. Academic qualifications give an indication of how well someone can process facts and recall them; personality indicates whether their values are aligned with those of the organization (such as loyalty, reliability and honesty); and skillset marks out those that already possess experience with the key qualities needed to build a successful business.

Transferrable skills are vital in every business, irrespective of the industry. Is your child a great communicator, well-organized, able to work on their own initiative, responsive and innovative? Can they prove it? Starting their own business gives your child first-hand experience that will teach them many skills that they wouldn’t hone so quickly (or at all) through academic studies alone. It enables them to see the big picture of what they are trying to achieve and the different steps needed to reach their goal. It demonstrates they can apply their learning and character in real-life situations – and gives them a vehicle to prove their capabilities.

What transferrable skills can your teen develop when starting a business ?

Whilst schooling and co-curricular activities (such as clubs, sports, public speaking) can help develop and demonstrate some of the skills listed below, setting up a business provides evidence of how a student applies themselves in a commercial setting rather than their own peer group. Here’s 12 of the most sought after skills interviewers are looking for:

  1. Initiative - having good ideas and acting upon them;

  2. Demonstrable experience - working on real-life projects, not just theoretical scenarios;

  3. Ability to communicate – probably the most important, running their own business shows they can communicate well with clients and people they don’t know, both verbally and in writing;

  4. Ability to meet deadlines – to produce high quality work within limited time-frames;

  5. Leadership -inspiring and motivating others (by getting clients or followers);

  6. Commitment and reliability – even growing a small business requires dedication over a period of time;

  7. Consistency – delivering high quality on a regular basis;

  8. Time management and balance – crucial in successfully maintaining a business alongside their studies;

  9. Problem solving -recognizing challenges and finding solutions;

  10. Listening – being responsive to others’ needs;

  11. Teamwork - collaborating with others to achieve positive outcomes;

  12. Digital technology -expanding and improving their knowledge of software and online systems.

Teenage boy with selfie stick filming himself: The Parents' Guide to
Developing transferrable skills: vlogging

Great business ideas for teens to try

Your child will have the best chance of success if they start business based on the things they enjoy and are good at. If they are active, then they’ll probably prefer work that involves physical activity, where more studious teens will prefer opportunities that require lots of thinking and mental challenges. Possibilities include:

Teenage girl working on laptop outside: The Parents' Guide to
Great business ideas for teens to try

Technology/IT related

Technology is second nature to most young people, having grown up in a world where being online is as natural as breathing. Their computer skills often far surpass those of older generations, so what is straightforward to them could be something others struggle with and look to outsource. Web design, graphic design and creating online resources are ways where your teen might be able to help small business who can’t afford services of professional companies but don’t have the skills to do the job themselves. Offering these services at a small fee, or even voluntarily, will give them first-hand experience in a genuine role as well as teaching them how to express someone else’s vision whilst developing their own technical skills too.

Personality/developing a passion

If your teen is keen on videoing, vlogging or photography, there’s money to be made in setting up a website, channel or podcast and sharing their thoughts on their specialist interest. This requires long-term commitment, as viewers typically expect to see posts on a regular basis. It’s a good way to express how they feel and improve the way they communicate. They can talk about products they like, issues that are important to them or hobbies.

Practical skills

There’s lots of avenues to sell online, so if they’re good at making things (such as crafts, cakes or personalized drawings), they could try selling their creations. This could begin among family and friends then extend beyond there. Now social distancing restrictions have lifted, baby-sitting, car-washing, running errands, tutoring younger students or weeding gardens are all possibilities.

Teenage girl filming herself cooking: online blog: The Parents' Guide to
Developing practical skills


Starting their own business can be a good way for teens to develop their passion, learn valuable transferrable skills and stand out from others. It’s a way they can discover how it feels to work for themselves without the risk of losing their home or livelihood. If things don’t go the way they’d hoped, they’ll have learned a lot about how to do things differently and many valuable lessons about themselves in the process. If their business takes off, they could be well on the way to further success.


Inspiring ways for your teen to stand out from others

If you’d like to know other ways your child can stand out from others and improve their chances of success at interviews, read our suggestions in The Parents’ Guide to Standing out from the crowd. It includes sections on:

  • Self-development;

  • Getting work experience (including virtual placements);

  • Benefits of research and how to take a different approach;

  • How different hobbies impact mental and physical health

  • Transferrable skills;

  • Recommendations for non-curricular online courses.


We always love to hear from you, so do let us know if there are any subjects you’d like us to chat to you about. Stay safe and keep happy, Vanessa and Darius -


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