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10 ideas for young entrepreneurs

MMI Copywriter

By Kim McGrigg, MMI Community Manager

Summer is a challenging time to occupy children who are too old to need full-time childcare, but too young to hold a “real” job. Instead of letting kids fill their hours playing video games, try encouraging them to try their hand at entrepreneurship. With a little supervision, your tween could earn a little cash as well as some valuable lessons about money management.

Following are 10 business ideas for your young entrepreneur to consider:

  1. Sell lemonade. No one can resist a lemonade stand on a hot summer day. Don’t forget to have the kids cover the cost of their expenses!
  2. Have a bake sale. If your kids like to cook, why not encourage them to share their talents? This could even be combined with #1 to create a full-service concession stand!
  3. Pet sit. Summer time is vacation time. With help, even younger kids can feed neighbors’ fish and cats.
  4. Babysit. Both boys and girls can earn money and experience by babysitting. Kids younger than 12 can get practice by being a mommy’s helper.
  5. Mow some lawns. Busy neighbors might welcome a little help with the lawn.  If there's an elderly neighbor in need of lawn help, encourage your child to volunteer his or her mowing services (and snow shoveling services in winter).
  6. Help with weeding. Who doesn’t need help with weeding? In fact, my very first “real” job was weeding the flower beds of a resort hotel.
  7. Be a camp counselor. Even tweens can get counselor experience by hosting a mini-camp for younger kids at their house or local park.
  8. Wash cars. Lend your driveway to a group of kids to hold a car wash. They’ll have a great time and you’ll end up with a sparkling clean car.
  9. Walk dogs. Walking is a great exercise for both kids and canines.
  10. Teach younger kids.  If your kids excels at school, he or she can tutor younger children and help get them up-to-speed before school starts. 

Allowing kids to earn money teaches them a lot of valuable lessons. In addition to learning the value of hard work, they’ll better understand the role of marketing and how to better manage time. Estimating income, managing costs, and even counting change are lessons that will benefit them for a lifetime.

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We’re teaching kids to earn money - are we teaching them to manage it?

 

Money Management International (MMI) recently released a survey showing that nearly 7 in 10 kids in America are asked to participate in fundraisers on behalf of their school or organization.

According to the 2010 Kids and Money Survey, the majority of parents say they take advantage of fundraisers as an opportunity to teach their children financial lessons. Two-thirds of parents say they teach children financial responsibility and basic math skills. Roughly half of parents use fundraisers to teach their children goal-setting or basic business skills, and 4 in 10 parents use the opportunity to teach budgeting or charitable giving.

School and organization fundraisers offer kids the opportunity to earn money and practice raising funds, but lessons in responsible money management come mostly from parents taking the initiative. For parents wanting to take fundraising lessons a step further, following are some ideas on teaching kids important financial life lessons while fundraising.

Teach goal-setting. Many fundraisers make teaching goal-setting easy because they offer a tiered system of prizes for kids who sell a certain amount of items. Before the fundraiser begins, talk to your child about their goals and help them set a realistic expectation of what they can sell based on the time and resources available. Make sure to explain to them that the funds they raise don’t just earn them a prize at the end, but result in the greater prize of benefiting their organization or school.

Teach basic math skills. Help your children count back change to customers, total the funds they’ve raised, and calculate how much they still need to earn in order to reach their goals.

Teach basic business skills. Capitalism is the heart of the American economy. Use fundraisers as an opportunity to prune your little entrepreneurs’ goal-setting, budgeting, and customer service skills.

Teach responsibility. Responsibility was the lesson cited as the most taught by parents when it comes to fundraising, probably because responsibility encompasses more than pure financial skills. Remember that a single fundraiser will not teach kids responsibility as much as you setting a consistent example of responsible money management with your family’s finances.

Parents are highly influential when it comes to kids learning how to responsibly earn and manage money. Parents should use fundraisers as a tool to expand on the financial lessons their children will use for life.


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Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
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