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Otto Danielson: Making Money as a Teenager

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 (Otto Danielson)

I did it my way; a young San Franciscan shares his thoughts on entrepreneurial success.

How can someone that’s under the age of employment make money without getting a real job? Is it even possible to self-employ yourself in a place like San Francisco, the third most expensive city in the world?

Well, over the last 5 years, through a couple small businesses, I’ve been able to turn enough of a profit to make my work worth the effort, and as a Junior in high school today, I’m still self employed. And don’t worry, I’m not about to reveal the secrets to some devious pyramid scheme or anything like that.

Making money for myself all started at the beginning of middle school. I had a growing interest in comic books, which is a hobby that requires a pretty steady source of income if you want to keep up with weekly new releases. My first method of achieving that was selling homemade rice krispies treats on my street corner for a dollar. Getting cheap ingredients and keeping other expenses low ended up being important, and the low price point of a dollar made it affordable for a lot of people. I built a community of regulars during that time, and although I faced a few setbacks (like the time a kid stole a whole batch and ran off with it), it was definitely a successful venture. That pursuit lasted for almost 3 years before it was toppled by the COVID-19 pandemic along with many of the small businesses that San Francisco held dear.

After taking that blow I needed to come back stronger with something new, which ended up being my dog walking and pet sitting business that’s been running for the last few years. I advertised on NextDoor and put up a few fliers- just in my neighborhood to ensure that I wouldn’t have to travel too far around the city to get work. Since then I’ve worked with dozens of clients and it’s proven to be a lot more successful than selling Rice Krispies ever was.


Look, these are just a couple examples of what you can do as a kid to make money on your own. The legal age of employment is 14 in San Francisco, so whether you meet that guideline or not, there’s other options out there for you. And I’m not by any means trying to put down anyone who works a regular job- to be honest, if I were to work a 9-5, I’d make a lot more than what I make dog walking and pet-sitting. But sometimes it’s fulfilling to do it yourself.

With a Perspective, I’m Otto Danielson.

Otto Danielson’s Perspective was produced by Y-R Media.

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