Young entrepreneurs aren’t exactly just running lemonade stands anymore. In at least one case, they are looking into the concept of space mining. But not all businesses started by young people are so out of this world. Starting a small business as a teenager can be a life changing experience and can encourage the hard work and dedication required to be a business owner early in life. Grants that support young entrepreneurs mainly exist on the local level and young entrepreneurs should start their search for funding in the cities and towns they call home. If you are a young person looking for grant funding to take your idea to the next level, we strongly encourage you to follow your dreams. Check out these opportunities that might just help you get going down the exciting road of becoming a small business owner.
The Thiel Foundation was started by well-known internet entrepreneur Peter Thiel. As a co-founder of PayPal and major investor behind companies like Facebook, LinkedIn and Spotify, the fellowships that bare his name encourage some of our youngest and most talented entrepreneurs to follow their dreams. $100,000 grants are awarded yearly to kids under 20 years old to enable them to skip college and get right to work on innovative solutions to various problems. Since the first Thiel Fellows were announced in 2011, young entrepreneurs from around the world between the ages of 15 and 19 have received these grants. Topics they are exploring vary from studying the aging process to generating new solutions for sustainable energy. One fellow’s work is even looking into the possibility of asteroid mining in outer space. Grants are offered without restrictions and fellows do not give up any equity in their start-ups to receive a grant. The annual deadline for the Thiel Fellowship is December 31 and all applicants must be age 19 or under on that date to apply.
Small Business Administration
The SBA does not offer grants to young entrepreneurs but does provide a number of resources to assist young people looking to break into the business world. These include a free online course and business planning tools that help young entrepreneurs accomplish necessary tasks like the creation of business plans. In addition, the SBA gives young people looking to start a business access to counselors and mentors through partnerships like Job Corps.
SBA Loans and Grants Search Tool
Anyone looking to start a new business should make use of the SBA’s loans and grants search tool. This can be accomplished quickly online by answering 13 simple questions about your prospective business. The tool will then make you aware of any resources available in your specific location.
SBA Small Business Loans
If you find it impossible to locate grants for your new business start-up, the SBA partners with lenders to offer a number of small business loan programs. Don’t discount this resource when seeking out funding as a young entrepreneur.
Search Out Local Programs
There are many local programs that support our youngest entrepreneurs. For example in New Mexico, the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation offers this yearly Youth Business Grant to inspire its local teenagers to follow the dream of starting their own businesses. Every summer, area teens between 13 and 19 are selected to receive $400 grants. This year 13 local teens received this grant funding and started their own businesses in areas like lawn care, tutoring, pet care, gift baskets, jewelry making and egg farming. If you are a kid looking to start your own small business, reach out to your local chamber of commerce or junior business association to inquire about the existence of similar local grants. Understand that most funding available to kids looking to start their own business is available on the local level and since these grants are often fairly small and only available in your county or town they are rarely well advertised on the internet. Don’t hesitate to call your local government, business associations and non-profit organizations when seeking out support to get your new business off the ground.