Living in a digital age, youth who start their own business are no longer limited to a lemonade stand in the front yard, or a booth at the local farmers market.  E-commerce, or selling online, gives young entrepreneurs the potential to expand their business far beyond their neighborhood or community, literally around the world.  But going online also comes with new risks.  This page includes information on basic e-commerce tools young people can use to get started.  It also includes information for parents and families whose top priority is ensuring youth remain safe.  Please note: some of the sites featured have an age minimum or require an adult account holder.

Safety first

As young entrepreneurs prepare to take their businesses online, it is paramount for parents and families to remain aware and personally involved.  Talking over Internet use, privacy, and customer interactions with youth is a good first step. Establishing clear roles and guidelines for e-commerce activities will help ensure youth have a positive experience and remain safe.  Below are sites offering tips and advice to parents on these issues:

Children and Internet Safety

Tips to Respect and Protect Teens Using the Internet

Netsmartz for Parents

E-commerce tools/sites

Social media and online platforms provide entrepreneurs with the tools to broadcast their entrepreneurial ventures to a worldwide customer base.  Several sites most commonly used by youth entrepreneurs are featured below, with tips on how to make each work to their advantage: 

Facebook - Used to help connect with people interested in your businesses. 

Facebook 101 for Business: Your Complete Guide

Facebook for Business

Facebook Pages: Tools for your Business, Brand, and Organization. 

Twitter - Usable for connecting with friends and customers

Twitter, About

How to Use Twitter for Business

19 Innovative Ways to Use Twitter for Business

YouTube - A usable site that you can share videos with your family, fiends, and community. 

9 Effective Ways to Use Youtube for Business

Video Example: Stanton Brothers Eggs

Video Example: Piggy Paint Fingernail Polish

Etsy - A site 4-Hers can use to sell their homemade goods. 

Open at Etsy Shop

What Items Can I Sell on Etsy?

Big Cartel (an alternative to Etsy)

Pinterest - A site 4-Hers can use to help with business brainstorming. 

9 Tips: Boost Your Business with Pinterest

Pinterest for Brands: 5 Hot Tips

Craigslist - A site on local classifieds 4-Hers can use to find the parts they need.

Craigslist Factsheet

Craigslist, About (Help)

eBay - A site where 4-Hers can sell their goods in the world's largest auction system.

Getting Started on eBay

eBay Selling Basics

Paypal - A site that 4-Hers can use to transfer money or make a payment securely. 

How Does PayPal Work?

How to Sell Online

Dwolla (alternative to PayPal)

GoFundMe - a personal fundraising site for those with an idea to change the world

GoFundMe - How It Works

Kickstarter - a crowdfunding site for creatives to find resources to make their ideas a reality

Kickstarter - Start a Project


E-commerce skills

To be successful as online entrepreneurs, young people can gain an understanding of the tools of e-commerce, and the skills needed to put them to best use.  Below are sites which offer tips on how to become an e-commerce whiz! 

Blogs – how young entrepreneurs can use blogs to tell their story.

10 Business Ideas for the Teen Entrepreneur

Listing Titles – how you list your items determines whether people click to or click away.

eBay, Listing Help

eBay, How to Maximize your position in Best Match

Product descriptions – how you describe your product online is everything

Copywriting for eCommerce

Photos – how to take high-quality photos to help sell items online

eBay, Top Tips for Great Photos

Basic Macro Photography

Videos – how to use video stories to spread the word about your business

Video Example: Stanton Brothers Eggs

Video Example: Piggy Paint Fingernail Polish

Inspiration: Caine’s Arcade

Websites – tips for developing an effective website as the hub of your online business

10 Things Every Small-Business Website Needs

10 Things Customers Want on a Website

Planning Your Website