Guest post written by Ron Stefanski
Kids are curious. It’s part of the beauty of childhood to want to try, do, and make things! Curiosity and entrepreneurship go hand in hand. Business ventures are risky. They require a lot of work and some investment up front. When your kids start to dream up business ideas, encourage them to follow through! Starting a side hustle will give your child valuable real-world experience.
Consider the classic lemonade stand. After all, it is a cliché for a reason. Children would get their friends and family to help them build a small business (the stand) with materials that they had available to them. They would then ask for an investment, in the form of lemons and sugar, for their business. They had to figure out their pricing, hours of operation, and customer base. It’s all the basics of business wrapped up with an adorable, handwritten sign. For the most part, kids grow tired of these endeavours. How can you blame them? It’s hot sitting outside in the summer waiting for potential customers to wander by. Not to mention, who carries cash anymore? Unless you’ve given your kid an iPhone and a square account, they aren’t taking debit cards. Perhaps it’s time for something different. Your kids can follow these basic tenets of entrepreneurial success to start a business with growth potential. It might even hold their attention for longer than fifteen minutes (and they won’t drink up all the profits sitting in the hot sun).
Solving a Common Problem
The first step to starting a business is knowing what service or goods you will be offering to the public. Solving a common problem is the best way to assure that people will want what you have to give. Your child’s lemonade quenches people’s thirst on a hot summer day. Unfortunately, thirst quenching is sort of a saturated market. If your kid wants to start a business, help them brainstorm common problems in your family, circle of friends, and community.
Caretaking is one of the largest growing industries in the labor market. There is high demand for child and pet care services. There is even an app for freelancers who want to make a few bucks walking dogs! The need for reliable caretakers continues to grow. Help your kid start a babysitting, dog walking, or pet sitting service. Depending on community needs and time of year, these services can be highly lucrative.
Sometimes, offering a service doesn’t solve your community’s common problems. In that case, your kid can become an inventor. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most successful. Help them experiment with different skills, like woodworking or 3D printing. Makerspaces, which are popping up in cities all over the nation, are great for prototyping inventions. If a physical invention isn’t your child’s thing, consider helping them learn to code. App development is a great way to start a business, and beginners can be very successful in the industry. Simple apps are often the most useful ones on our overloaded devices.
Some children do better with structure and expectations. Those kids could start freelancing. Kids as young as fourteen have freelance opportunities as designers, virtual assistants, social media marketers, and so much more. Freelancing teens can make their own schedule, control their own workload, and choose which projects to work on. They also have the structure of a project and a client to hold them accountable. It’s like having the best of both worlds; being an employee and a boss.
If your family is lucky enough to have the resources, you could help your kid start an online business. Though I wouldn’t recommend selling lemonade this way, there are lots of platforms for digital entrepreneurs. With your help, even younger kids can sell handmade goods on Etsy. Older children can learn about the supply chain by selling things through an eCommerce platform like Shopify. If your kid creates digital content, like photography or digital art, there are several platforms that cater just to downloadable goods.
Creative Side Projects
We are all looking for a way to express ourselves. We have a thousand opinions that we want to share, talents we want to pursue, or stories to tell. Your kids are no exception. In fact, children often have an easier time stepping out of their comfort zone and creating something truly unique. Your child can use their self-expression to start a creative side project. Internet and streaming media, like blogs or YouTube videos, are starting to rival traditional media audiences. Young kids spend hours watching YouTubers play video games, and people read clickbait blogs as frequently as they read the news. It’s a growing industry, but without gatekeepers like producers keeping beginners out of the game. Your child can share their story through a podcast, blog, or YouTube Channel. They best thing is, they can start these things for free! If they work hard and market themselves, they can start making money through ad revenue and sponsored content. It isn’t a guarantee, but it’s a great creative practice even if it never makes them a cent.
Childhood is a time for risk taking. Kids jump out of trees, try to swing in a circle, and dunk each other in the pool. That risk taking could be put to more productive use through a business. Starting a business venture lets kids put themselves out there, builds their resiliency, and fosters good work ethic. If your child comes to you with a business idea, support them! Just make sure you aren’t doing the work for them. Overcoming obstacles and tackling the challenges of running a business will teach them valuable life lessons.
Ron Stefanski is the founder of JobsForTeensHQ.com and has a passion for helping teenagers find jobs. He created the website because he feels that teenagers need to focus on their professional passions much earlier in life and aims to teach them how they can do that. When he’s not working on his website, Ron is a college professor and loves to travel the world.