Easy Money-Making Ideas for Children
The Underage Entrepreneur
Making money isn’t easy, especially for children. Every kid can think of a few basic ways to make some quick cash, but did you know that by following a few simple rules, you can greatly increase your earning potential?
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE YOUR WORTH
This is a sound piece of advice for children and adults alike. If you want to be taken seriously, you have to master the art of product pricing. If you set your prices too low, people will assume there’s no value in what you’re selling. If you set your prices too high, people will think you’re a rip-off artist. When deciding how much to charge for a service or merchandise, consider the following:
- Who else is offering the same services (is my service or product easy or hard to find in my community?)
- What are my competitors charging and what is included with their product or service?
- Does what I am charging cover all my upfront expenses?
- What type of profit-margin do I hope to make?
Create a New Twist on an Old Idea
Pretty much everyone has babysat at some point in their lives. Most parents are simply looking for a babysitter they can trust, that is reasonably priced, and that can usually be ready at a moment’s notice. You can significantly increase your earning potential and have babysitting gigs lined up constantly if you add your own unique flare to the job. Here are a few ideas:
- Have the kids to your house: Parents often love this idea because it means that they won’t have any messes to clean up when they get home. Kids love the idea because it is always more fun to play with someone else’s toys than it is their own. They also feel like mom and dad aren’t the only ones that get to go out and have fun. It gives you greater flexibility in setting rules and limits with the kids as they are more apt to be obedient when they are in someone else’s home, making your job much easier.
- Schedule set activities: Kids can by unruly when there is no focused activity. A great babysitter will have a binder full of ideas that they can whip out at a moment’s notice and use to entertain the kids. This might include craft projects, nature hikes, games, movies, cooking or baking, painting, reading, theme days, etc. If you’re really into it, you can have different chapters in your binder with favorite activities for the various families whose children for whom you babysit.
- Creating meaningful projects: If you know the dates of special events in the lives of the family for whom you’re sitting, you can engage the kids in making special projects. For example, if mom and dad are going out to dinner and movie for their anniversary, helping the kids with a homemade anniversary card and baking a special cake would create a meaningful activity for the kids and favorite memento for the parents.
This is kind of like babysitting; everyone has operated at least one lemonade stand. Usually this means setting up a table in your front yard and selling Dixie cups of lemonade to your parents and neighbors. But with a little extra strategy, you can turn the $5.00 lemonade stand into a $50 business. Maybe even more!
Think about your lemonade stand as real estate. It’s all about location, location, location. Instead of setting up in your front yard with a small poster board sign, take your business on the road. Where would you find the thirstiest customers? That’s where the stand should be. Consider the following:
- Stopping points along a well-traveled bike path
- Soccer Parks
- Baseball/ softball diamonds
- Ticket windows on days when tickets go on sal
- Near a construction site (far enough to be safe and close enough to be visible)
- Outside a gym
- Adjacent to a bus stop
- Across the street from a school or day camp (attracts parents who pick up kids at the end of the day)
If you are going to choose a creative spot for high volume sales, be sure that you are not trespassing on private property or competing with sales from another business (i.e. if the soccer park sells its own concessions, they aren’t going to want you to horn in on their business). To assure that you aren’t in violation of rules or laws, check with business owners, local officials or others before deciding on a permanent location.
Additional ways to increase the volume of customers includes:
- Put signs up at various intervals leading up to your location. For example, Having a sign that reads: Refreshing Lemonade: 1 Block Ahead and another that reads, Ice Cold Lemonade: 50 Yards Ahead, gives commuters time to think about your product and decide that they really want it. Make sure your signs are interesting. They’ll attract more attention if they are colorful, large and artistic.
- Consider having at least one other item for people that don’t like lemonade. If I am cycling, I might want water instead of a sugary drink. For that matter, you could offer a sugar-free lemonade also, so that customers can enjoy the taste without the sugar.
- What else appeals to hot, weary travelers, athletes and employees? Shade! Consider setting up under a shady tree or pitching a large canopy over your station to shield it from the sun. It will keep your drinks colder longer, and offer a bit of respite from the heat.
- Customers might like to sit while drinking. Consider setting up one or two card tables with chairs, disposable tablecloths and maybe even flower vase centerpieces. Your mom might let you pick a few tulips if you ask nicely. Make sure your tables are in the shade.
- Keep your beverages cold for the duration of your sale. This includes having plenty of ice in coolers. The extra pitchers of premade lemonade, water, etc. should be stored in the coolers of ice and kept in the shade.
The car wash is one of the most fun ideas because while it is work it also gives you the opportunity to keep cool in the summer. The best car washers will have thought of the following details:
- Offer both inside and outside options for washing
- Inside options include windows, dashboards, vacuuming floor mats, and emptying trash
- Pay attention to details such as bug guts on the grill and windshield, drying after washing to prevent water spots, cleaning grime from hubcaps, etc.
- Change the soapy water in your buckets between each vehicle. No one wants to see their car “washed” using dirty water. You may even change 1-2 times while working on the same vehicle.
- Create a seating area for customers while you are working on their cars. This should be in a preferably shaded area. You might set up a card table with magazines and a newspaper or book of crossword puzzles so they have something to do while their vehicles are being washed.
- Offer additional services for added price. For example, inside detailing or waxing should be extra.
- Advertise your prices up front, but also leave a Tip Jar in a highly visible place.
- Advertise that a percentage of your profits will go to benefit a particular cause. People are far more likely to use your service if they know the money is benefitting others
- If you are looking for increased volume, get a few friends together and find a parking lot in which to hold your event. A church or other non-profit may allow you to use their parking lot in exchange for a percentage of your profits. It is worth it because even though you have to make a donation, you’re washing way more cars, so you still come out ahead. In addition you’re providing a wonderful gift to the agency that is offering their space. You should make attempts to partner with agencies whose mission and vales are consistent with your beliefs. That way everybody wins.
- When you are done with the wash, consider using homemade rearview mirror placards to remind customers to return. These should be colorful and easy to read, announcing the dates and times of future car washes and thanking the customer for their business.
Rummage sales are a dime a dozen in the summer months, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make any money at it. Here are a few ideas for maximizing your earning potential:
- Carve out a corner of your basement in which to store items for your next sale. You should preferably start this about a year in advance.
- Seasonalize your closet and drawers every spring and fall (or summer and winter) and pack up the items that you no longer wear for the coming sale.
- Offer to remove items from the homes of friends and neighbors for free in exchange for letting you include such items in your sale. Be sure to specify if there are items that you cannot or will not accept.
- Know when your neighborhood’s next rummage sale event is taking place. Many neighborhood associations plan a joint yard sale event early in the spring. They pay for advertising and there is high volume at these events. Be sure to have your yard sign highly visible so that customers know your house is taking part in the community event.
- If you have something that is highly coveted, make a special sign to announce it. Popular items include baby clothing, furniture, and antiques.
- Use an easy pricing system. It takes way too much time to label every item in your sale. Instead, have a table on which all items are $3.00 and a container in which all items are $0.50, etc. When storing items in your basement for the sale, organizing them according to prices.
- Set your prices slightly on the high side. People will haggle over even the cheapest items (they’ll want to pay ten cents for the item marked a quarter!) By setting your prices slightly higher, you may be able to settle on the price that you originally hoped to receive and the customer will feel like they got a great deal.
- Be sure to keep things well organized. Customers will tear your tables apart in search of good finds. Periodically make sure that things are well organized, folded, labeled, etc. If you have racks on which to hang clothing, use them for a more pleasing display.
- Always keep your best items in prime viewing areas. The nicest clothing, most valuable furnishings, etc. are what will attract customers. Be sure they can see these things from the street.
- When it comes down to the last 1 to 2 hours of your sale, drop your prices. You can put up a sign announcing that all items are now ½ off!
There you have it, kids. The business ideas have been around for decades, but by adding a few well-thought-out elements, you can blow away the competition and get started on the road to successful earnings!
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© 2012 Jaynie2000