It used to be that when a kid wanted to earn some spending money, all he had to do was stir up a pitcher of lemonade and hang out on the sidewalk for a few hours. But times have changed, and kids want to make more than a just a few dollars. Young entrepreneurs can make enough money to buy the latest gadgets — or start saving for a big purchase — by starting their own business and running it during their spare time.
While in many states children are prohibited from being home alone without adult supervision if they are under a certain age, kids can still start a business as a mother’s helper. Responsible kids as young as 11 can work with families in their neighborhood, playing with young children and toddlers while their parents get chores done around the house. Mother’s helpers can play outside, read books, do art projects, and make simple lunches and snacks, giving mom and dad a much-needed break or chance to accomplish other tasks. Working as a mother’s helper also helps give kids experience and skills that they can use when they get older and want to work as a babysitter.
If caring for kids isn’t exactly your forte, kids can start a pet-care or pet-sitting business. Pet sitting overnight or for extended periods while owners are away will require parental supervision and involvement, but kids can help their neighbors by walking and playing with pets when their owners are at work or too busy. Kids can even add basic grooming to their pet-care business by offering their services to bathe and brush animals for their customers. Working with pets is best for older kids, who are able to handle potentially unpredictable animals. Kids should get to know the animals with the owners present so everyone feels comfortable together. A parent or other responsible adult should also be on call and supervising at all times, in the event that something goes wrong. Kids who are interested in working with pets should contact a local veterinarian or animal shelter to inquire about extra training for this job; in some cases, you can job shadow or volunteer to gain some experience in working with animals.
Kids who aren’t afraid to work hard can start a yard-work and chore business. In the fall, kids can rake leaves and help their neighbors get ready for winter, while they can shovel snow in the winter months. In the spring and summer, kids can help plant flower and vegetable gardens, assist with weeding and watering, and if they are older and know how to operate a mower, mow lawns. Starting this type of business allows kids to spend time outdoors and get physical activity while also earning cash and building experience in landscaping and gardening.
Creative kids can start online businesses. For example, artistically-inclined kids can design greeting cards, mugs or other items using their original artwork to sell via online stores. Some websites allow you to upload your artwork, and customers can have the art printed on their choice of items. Once an item sells, you earn a commission. Start by letting friends and family know about your business, and ask them to tell their friends.
Cleaning out the clutter from the basement or garage can also help you earn some extra cash. With the supervision of an adult, kids can sell unwanted items on online auction sites, and as their experience grows, even sell items supplied by friends and family for a commission. Setting up an online store will likely require the involvement of a parent or other adult; in some cases, accounts can only be created by someone over age 18. Parents should also monitor online activity to keep their kids safe.
If an online store isn’t an option, and you can wrap gifts neatly — or have creative ideas and skills for making gifts look amazing — start a gift-wrapping business to help busy shoppers around the holidays.