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Today's Businesses for Kids

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Piggybank on It

Labor laws limit the hours that kids can work as employees for someone else. There are no limits on the time kids can spend working for themselves, but school work and other commitments surely limit the time they can devote to their businesses.

Money ABCs

Seed money is the cash needed to get a business off the ground. Also called start-up funds, this money usually is raised through savings and getting loans from family, friends or a bank.

Ideas for Businesses That Kids Can Start

After some second thoughts, your child might decide that he prefers to go out and get a job working for someone else. Or, he may think that he has what it takes to be his own boss and wants to start his own business. The opportunities are boundless.

The type of business kids can start is limited only by a few things: their imagination, the money it takes to start the business, their talents, and their ability (or inability) to get around. Maybe your child already has a good idea of what he wants to do. Here's a sampling of the ideas that have already been put into practice by enterprising youth:

  • One talented teenager started (with the help of her mother and financing from interested people) manufacturing a successful line of clothing she designed.
  • Another perceptive teen recognized a growing market niche for Christian religious products for kids her own age. She created an online catazine (a combination catalog and magazine) to sell T-shirts, jewelry, and other items.
  • One 10-year-old (with the help of his father) started a toy company to manufacture a water toy of his design that has already sold more than a million units worldwide. Three years later, his company was bought out by Wild Planet Toys for millions.
  • A number of kids are getting into computer and Internet-related businesses, designing Web sites, setting up computer systems, and teaching computer use.
  • One teenager who immigrated from El Salvador at age 8 started a customized framing business that provides frames for special occasions. With more work than she can handle, she continues to advertise by distributing flyers in malls, schools, grocery stores, and even laundromats.
Piggybank on It

Kids proficient with computers can start many types of businesses. My daughter's friend has a business designing Web pages. His revenues, which are impressive, are helping to pay his way through college.

Piggybank on It

A party helper can also provide services at kids' birthday parties as extra hands for parents, as clowns or other entertainment, or simply as maid service.

But if your child doesn't have any idea of what he'd like to do, here are some businesses that kids can start with virtually no seed money:

  • Car cleaning. This business provides car washing and inside cleaning. It may be impossible to get your child to clean your car, but she may be more than willing to do it for the neighbors if they'll pay her for it.
  • Computer instruction. This business provides teaching of computer literacy. It might focus on senior citizens or other groups in need of help, or it might be private tutoring for other kids who are having trouble catching on.
  • House sitting. This business provides mail and newspaper pickup, waters house plants, and keeps an eye on things. I used to pay $20 a day for a teenager to sleep in my house (and eat whatever he found), walk my dogs, collect the mail, bring in the newspaper, and generally give the house a lived-in look.
  • Making jewelry and crafts. This business makes and sells jewelry and craft items to sell to craft stores and at craft fairs. Use things around the house (if parents approve) to get started, and then reinvest sales proceeds in supplies for new projects. One girl who did this just to make pocket money in high school later went on to a career with Avon designing their costume jewelry.
  • Lawn and garden care. This business provides lawn mowing, leaf raking, weeding, and other garden services. If your child uses his own mower and other equipment, he can charge more than if he uses the homeowner's equipment. It's easy to find out what the going rate is in your area for this type of service by asking around.
  • Party assistance. This business provides maid service to neighbors during their parties and offers assistance in setting up, collecting glasses and plates, washing dishes, and performing other related tasks. Your child should charge either an hourly rate or quote a flat fee per party.
  • Pet care. This business provides dog walking, cat litter changing, pet feeding, cage cleaning, and other pet care services. These services can be performed on a regular basis or just when customers are away from home.
  • Tutoring. This business provides academic help in subjects in which your kid shines. While kids usually can't charge the same hourly rate as grown-ups, they make great teachers because they can relate to other kids. A high school math whiz can provide after-school help to someone in a lower grade.


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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Money-Smart Kids © 1999 by Barbara Weltman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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