Original question from Quora:

Entrepreneurship: What’s the best way for a teenager to make money?

My Answer:

There are so many ways for a teenager to make money. What you didn’t ask is how much.

So, I’ll tell you what I did as a teenager as compared to what I am doing now and what made the difference.

When I was sixteen years old I got a job at Chick-Fil-A working the cash register and scrubbing the floors every night before it closed. I worked something like 20 hours a week, which meant most evenings and a long shift on Saturday.

In the summertime I worked even more.

I was paid $5.25/hr. and we had to buy our food at a discount. It was work and I worked hard.

In school I got good grades by working hard and for fun I taught myself computer programming because I wanted to make video games. This was almost 20 years ago and computers were still expensive and by no means “cool” like they are now.

In college, I was able to use my programming skills to make something more like $10/hr. which seemed like good money at the time and I got a couple really good full time summer internships.

I kept building things and learning in my spare time. It was fun for me.

After college, my first job was as a Web Developer for a local computer shop. It paid like $25,000/year which was approximately $500 more than the minimum required salary the state of Nebraska required at the time.

Oh and that job was 50–60 hours a week and the boss wasn’t super nice. It was a lot of work.

In my spare time I kept learning things and building things. It was fun for me.

About ten years later of working every day, improving my skills, I’ve worked my way up to being able to charge as much as $100/hr for client work, and I’m sure if I hustled a little bit that number could be much higher.

Between when I was a teenager and now that I’m in my 30’s I developed a considerable skill in writing software and I’ve managed to over time put myself in better positions to make more money. I have a beautiful wife and wonderful children.

It took a lot of work to get here.

So here’s the thing about making money as a teenager. There are a lot of ways to do it, and I’m sure you’re looking for something quick and easy, so I’m going to tell you my secret that is the quickest and easiest way to make money.

Show up every day, work hard at what you’re doing, and do something to improve your skills and knowledge every day.

If you do that, you will have no trouble making money in this world and there is no limit to how much you can make. The biggest limit you have is yourself, not anyone else.

While my “secret” doesn’t seem like any kind of shortcut, I promise that it is. Ask anyone who has got to the top of what they are doing, anyone who is consistently making millions of dollars or whatever you want to define as success, and I bet you’ll find that they show up consistently, they work hard, and they are constantly striving to get better.

That is the only real shortcut to getting to the top and staying at the top. Everything else is like a bottle rocket - a lot of noise for a split second, a quick bang, and silence.

There is no substitute for consistent hard work and self improvement.


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