Junior Entrepreneurs: Money-Making Ideas for kids

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By Laurisa White Reyes
Staff Writer

I grew up in Pinion Pines, a tiny hillside community east of Frazier Park. The nearest grocery store and gas station were fifteen minutes away. Twenty minutes beyond that was the pharmacy, post office and hardware store. If we needed anything other than food, stamps or lumber, we went to Bakersfield or the San Fernando Valley. (There wasn’t much in Santa Clarita in those days either.)

One commodity that was always lacking, at least from the standpoint of us kids, was candy. There was no convenience store on the corner, no local drug store or candy counter. Any kid with a stash of sweets would immediately be subject to the pleading and cajoling of his friends to share. Kids were willing to barter anything save their very souls for a pack of Bubble Yum or Pop Rocks.

One summer, my younger brother Bryan decided to tap into this market demand. On our next trip to the city, Mom stocked up on wholesale bulk candy. The next day Bryan made an Open/Closed sign complete with store hours and set up shop on our front porch. He had everything a kid’s heart desired!

Bubble gum, tootsie pops, chocolate bars, suckers and licorice! Bryan’s Candy Store was a veritable sugar paradise, all for reasonable prices that the neighborhood kids could afford. And they literally lined up to make their purchases. Kids of all ages came with their nickels, dimes and quarters ready to spend.

It was not uncommon to find a line of customers at our front door before breakfast. I don’t recall how long Bryan’s Candy Store remained in business, but after repaying my mom’s original investment, my brother earned a hefty profit and I remember wishing I had thought of it first.

Most kids at some time or another want to earn money. The question is how. One of the most common ways is by earning an allowance in exchange for doing chores around the home. Other popular money-makers are newspaper routes, babysitting and lemonade stands. However, with a little creativity, the possibilities are endless.

When it comes to starting a business, there are several things for the budding entrepreneur to keep in mind.

First, consider what resources, abilities or talents does the child has to offer. Does your child have an artistic flare? Does he like working with his hands? Does he have a hobby?

Second, determine if there is a market for his particular service or product. One year my eight-year­old daughter earned $50 by making and selling chocolate hearts for Valentine’s Day. The demand for holiday gifts may provide an opportunity for your child to market a specific product, or perhaps he may offer a service to fill a need in the community.

Third, create a business plan. Determine beforehand what materials are needed and how much of an investment must be made. How will he advertise his product or service? Will he offer it only to family and friends?

Fourth, set goals. How much money does your child hope to earn and what will they do with the money once it’s earned it? Keep a record of how much is spent so your child can repay you out of the earnings.

For the child that wants to earn a few dollars, but isn’t sure how, here are some ideas to get them started:

Pet care specialist  Like animals? Create a flyer offering dog walking services. Feed and water pets while their owners are away on vacation. “Babysit” caged birds or reptiles. Set up a dog wash in your front yard. Be the neighborhood “pooper-scooper.”

Baker or candy maker Bake cookies, brownies or cupcakes for a neighborhood bake sale. Take pre-orders for holiday treats like peanut brittle, chocolate roses or popcorn balls. Assemble jarred cookie mixes for gifts. Bake a cake for a child’s birthday party or pies other special occasions.

Party helper Learn to make balloon animals. Dress up as a clown and do simple magic tricks for small children. Offer to help decorate, set up chairs, or manage party games. Handle the clean up after the party is over. Learn how to do face painting.

Artist or crafter  Have a special talent? Design bookmarks, stationary, placemats or greeting cards and sell them in sets. Sell handcrafted jewelry or craft items on consignment. Paint designs on trinket boxes. Make candles or decorative soaps. Crochet or knit winter hats, scarves or mittens. Embroider patterns on kitchen towels and sell them at a boutique or local craft fair.

Tutor Help younger children learn to read. Create addition/subtraction flash cards to help kids learn their math facts. Assist in making an art project or science experiment. Take kids on a nature walk to collect flowers to press. Teach music and singing to small children.

Gardener Pull weeds in a neighbor’s yard. Mow the lawn. Help a neighbor plant flowers or shrubs. Rake leaves.

There are so many opportunities, including the usual lemonade or ice tea stand.

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