Gregory Downing is a dad on a mission to encourage parents to teach their children how to build businesses and create wealth for themselves. Downing is the author of Entrepreneur Unleashed, and he says while “kids have always worked,” he believes “typical kid jobs do … very little to teach kids the all-important principles of entrepreneurial wealth building.” So instead of taking classic kid gigs like babysitting and raking leaves, Downing believes your kids should “learn how to think about working and building wealth in a profoundly different way.” He says, “They need to see firsthand that the old paradigm of getting paid for your time is no longer adequate.”
Downing suggests there are plenty of ways for kids to earn money that demonstrate the principles of entrepreneurship and that us parents can help kids put an entrepreneurial twist on classic childhood jobs—or at least take their earning potential to a higher level. Here are ten entrepreneurial job ideas for kids Downing recommends:
Giving Music Lessons or Playing Events 1 of 10If you have a child who is musical, perhaps a skilled pianist or budding violinist, he might offer his talents at weddings, birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, and the like. Help him get his business off the ground by developing business cards and fliers or perhaps a simple website that includes a video or audio sample of his work.
Tutoring 2 of 10School is back in session and, as always, there will be plenty of students who need a little extra help to thrive academically. Perhaps your child can provide that help. But rather than being just another service provider in a crowded market, why not suggest she be the front person? She might create a database of qualified locals and book appointments for her subcontractors. She can charge $10/hour for the services, and pay each of her contractors $8/hour. The same principle can work for babysitting.
House/Animal Sitting 3 of 10Being given the keys to someone's house, and perhaps the temporary custody of a beloved pet, is an honor. Explain to kids just how much trust clients are placing in them—and explain that if they go "above and beyond" they can shore up the relationship in a big way (not to mention generate enthusiastic referrals). For sure, kids need to clean up any pet messes or spills, water the plants, check the mail, and take out the trash on trash day. That's just basic good service. But they might also offer to tackle other projects for a small extra fee: scrubbing bathrooms, washing cars, mowing the yard, or organizing photos.
Running a Cider Stand 4 of 10The lemonade stand is a classic childhood business. And just because summer is over doesn't mean your kids have to close up shop. As the weekends get cooler and the leaves begin to change, they can simply switch over to, say, hot apple cider. No matter what they're selling, the refreshment stand can teach many valuable lessons. Kids can learn about profit by buying their own ingredients and doing their own marketing. They can shop around for better pricing, learn the benefits of buying in bulk, or negotiate with a local grocer for a better deal on repeat business.
Dog-Walking 5 of 10Taking Fido for a walk every day is a good way for kids to make a little extra money. Add two or three more canine clients to the mix and it becomes a great learning experience in multitasking and client management. Help your child set up a client database to keep track of client contact information, schedules, payments due and received, and any special requests or needs. Help her learn to gauge her own limits. Once she feels she's at the outer edge of her ability to serve clients well, it's time to stop accepting new clients or to bring on a partner or employee.
Running a Car Wash 6 of 10These events are classic fundraisers but they tend to be indistinguishable from one another. Encourage your child to think differently about the one he oversees. Teach him about the value of pricing goods and services competitively: Just because he's charging more doesn't mean he'll make good money—especially when a less expensive car wash event is happening in another part of town.
Facilitating Birthday Parties 7 of 10Putting together a great party is a lot of work for busy parents, between buying supplies, sending out invites, and managing activities during the party itself. By offering to help execute all the exhausting details (from following up with non-RSVPers to dishing out the ice cream), your child can free up frenzied parents to just enjoy the big day with their child and 20 of his or her closest friends. To get the business rolling, she might call neighbors and family friends who have small children and explain her services to them. (Yes, it's daunting, but it will be a great lesson for your child in the value of picking up the phone.) She can offer a discount or free trial for the first customer or two and let referrals and word of mouth take it from there.
Operating a Gumball Machine 8 of 10This is a great way to teach kids about passive income as well as help them polish other critical business skills. Setting up a gumball machine requires developing a nose for a great location and knowing the demands of a particular demographic. (Obviously, a gumball machine at a high-end restaurant won't do as well as one placed in the lobby of a kid-friendly diner!) It also will require diligent maintenance: refilling the machine, keeping it clean, making sure the mechanism works, and best of all, collecting the money.
Jewelry-Making 9 of 10Designing and creating bracelets and necklaces to sell teaches kids to manage inventory and pay attention to the trends so that their product can stay new and interesting. Are more bracelets selling than necklaces? Are bright colors selling better than pastels? Is there an unmet market niche selling jewelry to boys, and might your child be able to come up with some cool designs that appeal to them?
Landscaping 10 of 10Your child might offer "free samples" of his work around the neighborhood in an effort to expand his business. He might work up a flier that offers a free service—for one leaf raking, weed pulling, or yard trimming. Does he own a lot of equipment? He might rent it out when he's on vacation or away at camp. He can arrange for a friend to keep up with yards while he's away: This will keep customers happy and give the friend an opportunity to earn a little extra money on the side.
All photos via iStock.
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