“I’m bored, there’s nothing to do.”
“Can you buy me this new scooter? It’s on sale right now!”
“Mom, I need some money to go to the movies with my friends tonight.”
“Dad, can I have $50? Johnny wants me to go to a concert with him this weekend.”
Summer is prime time for being told just how boring it is to not be in school all day long, while being bombarded with requests for money at the same time. This is a perfect opportunity to entertain the kids while teaching them some real-life skills.
Benefits of Having A Business
Money is an obvious benefit to starting a business, probably the one the kids look forward to most. You can help them identify a savings goal, whether it’s $29 for a new Lego set or $199 for a new gaming system, that they want to buy. The kids will be more motivated to work, even when it’s not fun, if they keep thinking of the item that they’ll buy once they have enough money.
They also learn how work really works. Maybe they are gardening and have to spend 40 hours out in the sun, weeding and watering before they earn their first $30. Or they collect money every two weeks from their lawn care clients, but blow the whole $100 in a day at the amusement park and will be penniless until the next collection day. Real life doesn’t work out as neatly as their weekly allowance, and this is a good low-risk opportunity to let them experience real life situations.
Another life lesson they’ll learn about is borrowing money, since most new businesses require at least a little start up capital. Let’s say you lend your daughter $50 to buy supplies for her sugar-free candy business. She needs to keep records of the money she borrowed, what she’s spent and her sales, so that she can repay you before she reinvests the profits to make another batch. You don’t need to go crazy and have her create a detailed profit and loss statement, but keeping some records are good so that she can see the numbers on paper.
This is also a great time to introduce the tax system. When word gets out that she’s got the best strawberry jam and sales take off, Uncle Sam is going to expect his share of the profits. Any earnings over $400 should be reported to the IRS. While it might seem awful to have to pay taxes, you can take advantage of the fact that your child is a taxpayer and open a Roth IRA for them. Imagine if they earned just $500 for five years in their teens. If they invested it in mutual funds that have an average return of 8%, 50 years later they’ll have $101,122.73! And that’s only if they never put in another cent. While it’s not enough for them to retire on, it’s a great way to get them thinking about smart money skills and motivate them to save for the future.
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Business Ideas For Kids and Teens
Here are just a few ideas of businesses that young people can start to earn some spending money over the summer, and possibly beyond:
Gardener– Young green thumbs can get some reward for all the time they invest in growing tomatoes, onions, peppers and potatoes by selling the produce.
Pet Sitter– Budding veterinarians or animal lovers that can’t have a pet at home will love going to other homes and taking dogs for a short walk, playing with the cats or taking care of whatever other creatures their clients have.
House Cleaner– Kids as young as first grade can do simple tasks like washing dishes, mopping, folding clothes and taking out the trash.
Social Media Consultant– A lot of small business owners could learn a thing or two from today’s social media savvy teens. Possibilities include teaching business owners how to effectively get involved in social media or managing their accounts on their behalf.
Tutor– Teaching kids one-on-one to improve their skills before the start of the new school year is a great way for older kids to explore a potential career path while getting paid.
Lawn Caretaker– A few basic tools–a lawn mower, rake and shovel–are all they need to maintain the lawns of their neighbors as they start out building a lawn care business.
eBay Seller– Start small by selling unwanted toys and clothes that the kids have at home, and once they’ve got the hang of it, branch out and search thrift stores for high-quality new and like new items that they can resell for a profit.
Garage Sale Organizer– Kids who have a knack for organizing and managing can use their skills to help busy parents get their garage sale ready in exchange for a share of the profits.
Mother’s Helper– This is a great way for a child to get some practical child care skills while a parent is still at home. They can market their services to work-at-home moms and even stay-at-home moms who want to make progress on their never ending to-do list.
Activity Night Organizer– This is a fun way that a group of friends or siblings could make some cash; host weekly activity nights where kids come to their house and take part in activities, games and sports for a few hours.
Birthday Party Planner– Make the party a mostly hands-off event for parents by handling the invitations, RSVPs, food ordering, set-up and clean-up for them.
House Sitter– Lots of people take vacations during the summer and need a trustworthy person to collect the mail and care for pets and plants.
Party Performer– Piano players, vocalists, dancers, magician are all people that get invited to perform at parties. Since summer is full of parties, the kids can make their skills known and watch their calendars fill up.
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Some low-cost ways that kids can promote their businesses:
- Offer to work for free for a few people to get some word-of-mouth advertising going on. For example, ask the parents to hand out business cards to ten friends in exchange for a free babysitting session.
- Have a discount card for people who use their service repeatedly. Give a free grass cutting for every five paid ones.
- Print fliers and take them to all the neighbors and explain how their new business can help the neighbors.
- Ask happy customers to refer you to their friends by giving them some business cards, offer a discount for referrals.
What kind of summer businesses have your kids started in the past? Share with us in the comments.
If your child has the entrepreneur spirit, be sure to check out the following camps!
Startup Wonder in Bay Area, CA
Innova Fellows in Bellevue, WA