It’s never too early to teach kids lessons in independence or boost their work ethic. And what better way than by helping them run their own business? Whether they work as a babysitter, perform lawn mowing services or walk dogs, they’ll earn their own money while building valuable skills.
I’ve seen this firsthand with my own entrepreneurial daughter. At five years old, she started a chore business, creating a menu of services and passing out flyers around the neighborhood. After a couple years, she opened “Waterfall Paradise Spa.” Once she realized that her only customers were a sweet babysitter and her own family members, though, she finally settled on a handmade exfoliating scrub business. Now, she enjoys healthy year-round sales. Inspired by his big sister, my son now operates a seasonal homemade hot chocolate stand (it pops up at the mercy of his whims, but neighbors often ask when his next one will be).
Only half my reason for offering these examples is to brag on my kids. The other half is to share what they’ve learned from running their businesses:
- Providing customer service
- Honing communication skills
- Understanding market demand
- How to market and sell products
- Strengthening organizational skills
- Tracking their money (cash flow, expenses, understanding profit)
- Valuing their money
These are essential skills that will serve them well now and in the future. I’m also proud to say that it’s been years since I spotted them a $5 for the ice cream truck. Beyond growing their bank accounts, they’ve also gained pride and confidence! So, if you have kids, nieces or nephews, offer them some of these business ideas for kids.
What Makes a Good Business Idea for a Kid?
Before you wind them up and set them loose, help your child or teen think through an appropriate idea for their skill set and attention level. Guide them to consider both what they can do and what they will enjoy doing — ideally something that is also helpful or useful to others. The best ideas for kids also factor in how much help your child will need from you. If they’re interested and really care about their idea, then you shouldn’t need to hold their hand every step of the way. Help set them up for success at the beginning, but don’t let their business become your second job. Remind them of the importance of doing quality work at whatever they do, and don’t be afraid to let them learn from setbacks along the way.
Factors to help them consider:
- Capability — Help them land on a business idea that’s appropriate for their skill level. When my then 5-year-old daughter wanted to offer chore services, we discussed what she could do — and do well. At that point, it was just watering plants and dusting for neighbors who were on vacation. This also ensured her safety.
- Start-up costs — Ask your child or teen about the materials they will need to launch their business and how they will afford them. My daughter had enough money saved to buy the ingredients and containers for her scrub business, but if yours needs to borrow money from you, remember to treat this as a learning opportunity. Teach them responsibility by creating a payback plan or a trade schedule with extra chores or work in return for the start-up funds.
- How much oversight is needed — Labor doesn’t come free. Ask what your child will need help with and whom they should ask for help. If adult supervision is required, come up with a plan for when and how often you can help as well as the costs of that time. Whenever my daughter needs help making scrubs, for instance, she gifts me a 6-ounce jar.
- Time of year — Some areas of the country lend themselves to seasonal businesses, so guide your kid to think through how they can maintain their business as seasons change. Someone who offers lawn mowing during spring and summer could offer raking in the fall and snow shoveling in the winter. My daughter offers seasonal scents and themed gift packs to her scrub customers.
Top 10 Business Ideas for Kids and Teens
We’ve covered the benefits of teens and kids starting their own businesses. We’ve discussed how to make sure they select a solid, sustainable idea for their skills and interests. Now, without further ado, here are the top 10 business ideas and jobs for kids and teens.
1. Mother’s Helper
This is a great gig for kids and teens alike, especially helpful souls and kids who are interested in getting into babysitting down the road. Mother’s helpers usually help with simple chores around the house while one or both parents are home. They can entertain kids, help with meal prep, fold laundry — you name it. When a family needs help with errands or transportation, of course, this becomes a fitting job for high schoolers who have their driver’s license.
2. Technology Lessons for Adults
If you have a teen, chances are you already ask them for help with your computer, smartphone or social media — maybe too regularly! Sometimes the best ideas are sitting right under our noses. Your child could turn their tech prowess into a helpful service business, setting up weekend social media classes or tech tutorials. Their classes could help small business owners learn how to use social media for marketing. Or, for those who are especially patient, they might find their niche offering tech assistance (and a much-needed service) to senior citizens who are learning how to use their devices and set up social media accounts. Your child may even help their customers connect with their loved ones, stay in touch with old friends, or make new friends who share similar interests.
Babysitting is not only in high demand throughout the year, but it’s also one of the best summer jobs for teenagers. For those who enjoy children, it’s also a rewarding and easy way to make money. If your teen is responsible and trustworthy, they should consider starting a babysitting business. Suggest they boost their credibility with parents by completing a babysitting course and/or CPR and first aid training.
Blogging can be monetized in numerous ways (ads, affiliate links, sponsored posts, etc.), and the start-up costs are low if your child already has access to a computer and the internet. If your kid shows talent at expressing themself through the written word, this job should be a contender. Your kid can start by narrowing down a niche based on their interests and knowledge. Then, they’re in business! Another perk: This online job for teens doesn’t require them to hold a specific schedule or be in a particular place.
5. Car Washing Service
A job as old as time… or cars. Car washing is a solid way for kids and teens to not only earn extra cash but also learn how to run a business. They can create a schedule, nurture repeat customers, consider a subscription model, experiment with pricing and add-ons — the opportunities are endless. Teach them to consider all these factors and create a full-fledged business plan that will maximize their earning potential.
6. Dog Walking and Pet Sitting
The pandemic saw an explosion of pet adoptions. And, slowly but surely, all those pet owners are now starting to travel again and returning to work, even if on a hybrid schedule. This means the market is ripe for dog walking and pet sitting services. Just leave it to the kids and teens of America! If your child loves spending time with animals, this could be an excellent opportunity for a new and successful kid-founded business.
7. Maker and Designer
Calling all makers! Most kids enjoy designing and making some type of product, from jewelry to personalized tumblers and custom stickers to carpentry projects. Why not help them make money from their creations? They can set up a roadside stand to sell their wares, join craft fairs or even set up an online shop to reach even more customers. Just take a look at Etsy vendors’ success. This online marketplace gives vendors a place to sell to millions of people around the world. I also know a mother-daughter duo who make thousands of dollars every holiday season selling their festive glittery mugs on Facebook Marketplace (it helps that they offer shipping, which your kiddo can do too with a little help).
8. Yard Worker / Lawn Service
Mowing lawns in the spring, pulling weeds in the summer, raking leaves in the fall and shoveling snow in the winter — there’s always something to be done in the yard. This makes yard work a great job for kids and teens. And if your teen starts and operates their own lawn care business, there’s big money to be made—talk about a job for teens that pays well! Before your kid heads in this direction, though, make sure they have the drive to continually stay on schedule and maintain their customers’ yards with pride.
9. House Sitter
Travel has picked up again, and more people may start looking for house sitters. This is a great opportunity for kids who want to start a business. Help them create a checklist of chores they can offer while their customers are away. They can likely water houseplants and potted plants outside, dust furniture (make sure they know to move the knickknacks!), and collect mail and newspapers. Help them to advertise their service. They can do so via online neighborhood networking groups, on Care.com, by handing out fliers, or by posting info sheets on community bulletin boards.
10. Pressure Washing Service
Many people — businesses and homeowners, alike (including yours truly!) — would rather hire a teenager with a pressure washer than buy this equipment themselves. This type of job for teens pays well but also requires specialty equipment and involves some regular costs. If your teen is willing to invest some money upfront and promote their services, they could stand to create a nice little after-school and weekend business. Just make sure they verify that your city ordinances allow for pressure washers to clean sidewalks and homes.
If your kid starts a business and maintains it successfully, you’ll be one proud parent, and they’ll be one proud kid! Allow them to enjoy some of the fruits of their labor — but I wouldn’t be a good parent myself if I didn’t suggest that you encourage them to save some money for their future or even reinvest it in growing their business. One more mommy brag from me: My daughter chooses to donate all her “keep the change” money to a local animal rescue. She feels a sense of pride in helping her community via her small local business. You’ve got to love those homegrown seeds of future corporate social responsibility.
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