Most parents love the idea of their kids making their own money, and who wouldn’t want their kids to gain the life skills that come from running a business? But the first obstacle that most families face is coming up with a business idea.
This Saturday we’re kicking off a radio series on this very topic. Our guest is Certified Public Accountant Carol Topp who wrote a curriculum for families called Micro Business For Teens. We launched this series with a newspaper column about preparing kids for the real world. Speaking of which, if you haven’t already joined the group by the same name, head over there now and jump in on the conversation.
Start With What They Love
The first step in helping kids find a business is figuring out what they enjoy and what they’re good at. Our kids knit and spin their own yarn. So for a season, they made some money selling knitted items. In fact, one summer my daughter raised $300 making and selling knitted owls.
Jody’s nephew has always had a green thumb. When he was younger, the lanai at his house was covered with beautifully blooming plants of all kinds. Now, as a high schooler, he has a successful lawn care business.
I’ve got a budding gardener myself, and he recently started a worm farm business. He has red worms that make compost “tea,” and he’s selling it along with the worm castings to local gardeners.
Does your kid like art? My 15-year-old draws well, and last year she was doodling on her skin when someone saw it and asked her to draw something on their skin. She soon became known for doing cool “tattoos” with a Sharpie and decided to learn how to do henna tattoos. Since then, she’s launched a successful business and has even been asked to talk to teens at a homeschool convention next month.
Jody’s daughter actually loves to clean and organize (apparently these people do exist), and because not many people share her enthusiasm for Windex and a mop, she’s launched a house cleaning business. This same girl also enjoys taking care of kids and has made quite a bit of money babysitting.
Fill a Need
Once you’ve got an idea, you have to make sure there’s a market for it. I’ve seen a number of kids try to make and sell things but meet failure because no one except grandma will buy their wares. If they think they’ve got a cool thing to sell, have them test the market. Ask their friends and neighbors if they’d want to buy one and if so, what they’d be willing to pay for it. Have your child make a demo and collect orders. If she gets a small handful of orders, there might not be a market for the product.
Sometimes there is a need, but it’s already filled by more experienced professionals. Just because your kids love video games (this seems to be the prevalent “passion” du jour — just about every parent we talk to tells us their kid is passionate about video games) doesn’t mean he’ll be the next Tobuscus. There is big money to be made on YouTube for some gamers, but for the most part, these guys are professionals.
On the flipside, you might be surprised at how well received an idea can be. My daughter never imagined how many people would want henna tattoos and be willing to pay well for them.
To get your brainstorming juices flowing, head over to Facebook and join our group Preparing Kids for the Real World. Pinned at the top is a document with 101 Kids Business Ideas.
And be sure to tune in on Saturday at 10AM to hear Carol Topp talk about building a Micro Business for Teens. Local folks can listen live on 1220AM, 106.9FM or 98.9FM. If you’re out of the Manasota area, head over to WSRQ Radio and listen streaming or download a mobile app to tune in on the go.