There is nothing wrong with giving an allowance to start teaching children about money and finances. But they can learn even more by making money in a small business.
Although elementary-age children and tweens may seem too young for entrepreneurship, it’s worth remembering that Mikaila Ulmer of the multi-million dollar brand Me & the Bees started his career before entering kindergarten.
Of course, not all small business ideas are suitable for a child 12 and under. Some are too risky to try until high school. Others would put them in contact with strangers too often. Others are too complex to handle growing up and going to school.
But some, like a third of the beds, chairs, and mush in the old story, are fine. They are excellent business opportunities for children of all ages who want to explore this side of personal finance.
Why kids should start a small business
Starting a small business at an early age helps children learn the value of money. Winning their own video game and giving away money helps them appreciate the funds in a more personal way.
Beyond that, there are other important benefits for children when starting their own business:
- They can start earning earlier. In most states, it is illegal to have a job until a child is 14 years old. But enterprising kids can start earning on their own at any time.
- Teach multiple skills. Running a small business requires young people to learn skills beyond just getting better at doing or doing what they sell.
- There is no profit limit. If your child wants more money, you can sell more or find ways to improve your business. That is not true for an assignment or for most children’s jobs.
- Introduce the starting thought. Learning to think how a startup founder can prepare children for adult entrepreneurship or to work well with an interesting employer later in life.
- Change the way you think about money. Children go from depending on others to providing money and finding ways to do it for themselves. This may be the most important lesson on the list.
7 Kid-friendly small businesses that generate income
With those benefits in mind, here are the best business ideas for enterprising kids.
1. Garage sale arbitration
Stores Second hand , Craigslist, OfferUp and eBay run ads every day for people who sell collectibles, books, clothing, furniture and electronic products, and people buy with those ads. Even Amazon retailers do business with used and reconditioned products. Yard and yard sales sell these same items, often at lower prices than what they buy on those sites.
A child, especially a child with a passion for a certain hobby, sport, or toy collection, can earn decent money by taking advantage of this price difference.
To successfully participate in yard sale arbitration , your child must first complete market research on the typical sale price of some items. Armed with that, a few internet accounts and some money at stake, you can start making a profit.
- Easy to scale up or down in real time without hurting your business.
- It can go well with something your child is already interested in.
- Teaches negotiation and knowledge of the web.
- It can be a good gateway to a more expansive online business as your child grows.
- High risk of losing money if your child is not very informed about what he is buying and selling.
- It requires interacting with strangers on the Internet. You may want to closely supervise or manage much of this aspect of the business if you have younger children.
- Pick a niche, at least in the beginning, so that your child will trade only a few items that they know well. Reduce risk.
- Use this model to teach bootstrapping – being able to buy increasingly expensive items and achieve proportionally increasing profits as your success gains momentum.
2. Child care, pet care, or home care
Child care, home care, the care of pets, dog walking and even the care of plants have long been held jobs for children too young to get a regular job. For most, these concerts are unique opportunities that occur when a parent’s friend leaves town. A busy child and a large enough contact list can make this a regular practice, bringing in money week after week.
The trick to get started here is to develop your contact list. It can be a challenge for a fourth grader to convince adults outside of their parents’ immediate circle to trust them as babysitters or pet sitters.
To get started, they just need a client who can recommend them and the willingness to ask for referrals. Parents can help their children start running the voice among neighbors through the application Nextdoor . After a couple of successful jobs, referrals will begin.
- The work is quite simple and is generally in keeping with the experiences children have had at home.
- The job gives independent responsible practice in a safe environment.
- The contacts they develop often need other work as your child gets through these more basic tasks.
- The stakes are higher if your child makes a mistake.
- Not all children are prepared to take on responsibilities without supervision.
- For child and pet care, consider getting your child certified at the local Red Cross or community center.
- Develop a script for your child to ask for references and practice it with him until he is confident enough to use it.
3. Lawn care with advantages
Any kid can run around the neighborhood raking leaves or mowing the lawn, and most kids can earn a little money each year to make that happen. However, consider some of these plugins for that trustworthy trope:
- Collect grass clippings and other debris, then compost them over the winter and resell the results in the gardening season each spring.
- Twist between mowing in summer, raking leaves in fall, and shoveling snow in winter
- Weeding of gardens, flower beds and walks.
- Water on time while people are on vacation
- Harvesting fruits and vegetables
- Prepare patios and lawns for special events like graduations or birthday parties.
By adding some of those services to his repertoire, a child can create an age-appropriate landscaping empire in his immediate neighborhood.
Starting this type of operation requires equipment, although rarely equipment that most homeowners do not have on hand. It also requires training on how to use the equipment safely and how to properly do the jobs the child offers to do.
Once you have that in place, it’s just a matter of getting customers and keeping them.
- Take your child outside, away from the screen.
- Interacting with plants is good for children and has been shown to combat depression and anxiety.
- She fosters closer ties with her neighbors, who will take care of her child even after the job is done.
- Lawn mowers can be dangerous if used incorrectly and expensive to replace if damaged.
- Risk of sunburn and heat exhaustion in some climates.
- Rent your kids your lawn tools for a nominal fee until you earn enough to buy their own equipment, teaching them a valuable business lesson.
- Subscription models work fine here. Encourage your child to establish a pre-approved work schedule with clients instead of asking every time.
4. Online influencer
We are not talking about becoming an Instagram celebrity or hosting your YouTube channel or here. Although that is possible, the chances of success are slim and it is not recommended that children so young be so public on the Internet.
Instead, we’re talking about doing online reviews and surveys like the ones you can find at Swagbucks and Survey Junkie . Paid surveys are generally not worth it for an adult, but they can be a significant source of income for a younger child.
Accounts must be in the name of an adult, but once you’ve set them up, there’s nothing to stop you from letting your kids take the surveys and enjoy the rewards. Set it up, set parameters with your child so they don’t access inappropriate content, then let them set their own hours and earn extra money.
- Children have full control over how much they work and when.
- Teaches strong computer and internet literacy skills.
- It can be educational about the topics they work on and marketing in general.
- It takes a lot of screen time, which is something most kids are already getting too much of.
- Low pay compared to most of the other options listed here.
- Multiple accounts on multiple platforms can help your child maximize their earnings.
- Make sure they work only with legitimate platforms . Many do not offer cash, but promise coupons of dubious value.
What is your child’s favorite task? Are you cleaning the refrigerator? Vacuuming? Pick apples from trees? Folding clothes? Substituting a trip for the car wash?
Most children go through a phase where they inexplicably love to do some chore that the adults around them fear. Starting there and expanding into things they don’t love but can still do prepares them to earn pocket money the easy and safe way.
As with sitting down, the key here is getting one foot in the door helping out with a chore or an errand for someone close. Once your child does, you can expand your offerings and get referrals to scale as you like.
- They are practicing adult skills while making money.
- Teach diligent work habits, as they won’t get repeat customers for shoddy work.
- It does not require specialized skills.
- Job opportunities are not as flexible as for other items listed here.
- They will be spending time in people’s homes, which you will want to examine in advance.
- Identify the three busiest people you know and help your child get started with that connection.
- Have your child stay alert while at work for other jobs where your client may need help.
6. Sale of handicrafts
Not all kids are crafty or artistic enough to make things that people might buy on Etsy , but some kids are. More kids could become good enough at an art or craft with just a few months of practice.
Adults all over the world are turning an art style into cash through Etsy and similar online marketplaces , so why shouldn’t your child? Something as simple as handmade greeting cards or hand-painted t-shirts could earn your child a few extra bucks.
To get started, your child will need to produce some prototypes and then take some high-quality photos. They will also need an Etsy account , which must be set up and managed by an adult. With those in place, it’s just a matter of spreading the word and then fulfilling requests.
- They make money with something they already love.
- Introduce your child to the realities of marketing and retail.
- It can fit very well with learning about social media awareness.
- Material costs can reduce profits and potentially result in a net loss.
- It requires your child to interact with strangers on the Internet.
- Use your name and face on all online profiles to protect your child’s identity.
- Niche products perform reliably better than general offers. For example, instead of selling knit hats, your child could sell knit hats with a Pokémon theme .
- Some older kids with strong DIY skills may use a similar business model to sell crafts in the neighborhood.
7. Subscription lemonade
Lemonade stands are a classic kids’ business, but they are rarely successful in the long run and in recent years they have faced legal and safety issues that make them even less of a good idea for a business model. However, that does not mean that your child should not sell lemonade.
Instead of a lemonade stand, they can set up a lemonade route. Or an iced tea route. Or a route of homemade cookies. They get clients and deliver every week, or whatever period works for you and your family.
According to his bio, famous investor Warren Buffett started out that way, hauling a cart of candy and soda from door to door to sell for a small profit.
- You can generate reliable and stable income with a subscriber model.
- It teaches the value of high-quality, consistent performance.
- Your child will learn to cook.
- Material costs can reduce profits.
- Less flexible hours than most other items on this list.
- It is generally better to offer one high-quality option than multiple options.
- Work to make the delivery route more efficient to help your child save time.
For young people, a business generally starts in two ways. Some have a good business idea and want to make it happen. Others like the idea of starting a business, but don’t have a business in mind yet. Each of these models requires a different first step.
For those who don’t have an idea, it’s smart to do a miniature SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and it is an integral part of most business plans.
Sit down with your child and talk deeply together about what they are good at, what they have less experience at, what they can take advantage of, and what they should avoid. They can understand this in concrete terms even at a young age. Use that knowledge to generate a list of the most appropriate possibilities for your small business.
Children who already have an idea in mind need to execute some numbers. Take a look at the general concept and work together to determine the first way you can make money from it. Find out how much it costs to get started, what the prices look like in your area, and how much time you can spend.
If those numbers result in something that could make you money, keep the ideas. If not, try different models until you find something that works.