As I was surfing through the internet the other day, I came across a question that a kid posed in an aquarium forum.

Can a 16 year old run an aquarium maintenance business?

Most of the replies were kind and offered good advice to kid who was looking for creative ways to make money. I have no idea if he pursued the endeavor, but I would like to take a minute and give my opinion on this question.

My immediate response would be, “Absolutely!!“. 

I’m always impressed with a kid who’s trying to come up with business ideas to better their financial situation than one who expects money to be handed to them….especially when they’re thinking outside of the box.  Plus, there’s so many other life lessons that they can learn from interacting with customers and situations.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you turn a teenager loose on someone’s $20,000 reef aquarium, but a 55 gallon community freshwater tank in a dentist’s office is definitely doable.

While I think that an aquarium maintenance business would be a great opportunity for a 16 year old, there are few things to consider before digging out a bucket and a fish net.

There’s a whole section in my course that covers risk management which includes liability insurance.  Due to the nature of aquariums and their ability to leak, I very highly recommend getting liability insurance before getting your first client.  

Can a 16 year old get liability insurance?

I asked that question to my business insurance agent. While she said that there’s not a minimum age to be able to get an insurance policy, most underwriters are not going to write a policy for someone so young.  They view it as too much of a risk for their company.

Another point to consider in risk management is separating business finances from personal finances which would require obtaining a business checking account.  Banks are also hesitant to open an account to someone under the age of 18.

Some cities, counties or states may also require general business licenses or permits to be able to operate a business. This may also pose a problem for a budding 16 year old entrepreneur.

Some other questions to ask are:

  • How will they get from one account to another? Can they drive themselves or will a parent have to take them?
  • Will their schedule allow them to access the tanks during a clients available hours?
  • Are they willing to do this long term or is it just a passing idea?

How can a young person overcome all of these obstacles that seem to be stacked against them?

Parental involvement.

If a parent thinks that their child has the ability to responsibly operate a basic aquarium maintenance business (along with their guidance) they can setup the business correctly then hire their child to work in it.  They can then give them whatever level of responsibility they can handle on the business end.

This is not a hard business to learn. 

Aside from the knowledge needed to keep an aquarium running successfully, there’s some basic accounting, business, marketing and customer service skills that they can learn.

This is not something that you can learn in a classroom! 

Life experience is ALWAYS the best teacher!

These are skills that will greatly help them in their future careers.  Who knows…One day they may end up choosing Aquarium Maintenance as their career!!