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Helping Kids Develop Business Ideas
Excerpts from The Lemonade Stand

Kids who start businesses related to their hobbies or interests enjoy the entrepreneurial process more than others who choose businesses for which they have no real passion. And some kids start ventures by applying resources around them in new and different ways. It's the rare young entrepreneur who actually invents a new product.

Ten-year-old Brandon Bozek of Miami, Florida, started his own weekly flower delivery service called Bloomin' Express. Once a week, Brandon buys flowers from wholesalers and then delivers them to customers. Brandon started his business because he noticed the poor quality of flowers that were sold in the local supermarket. He felt he could deliver fresher and less expensive flowers. Brandon did not have to invent anything. He simply took advantage of the opportunity presented to him.

Many young people choose service businesses because they are less costly to start than ventures in which they have to sell manufactured products and tie up funds by storing inventory. This work can range from car washing or painting to computer programming. In fact, the PC may turn out to be one of the biggest money-making tools. The products that can be marketed on the Internet are endless. One easily identifiable group of products is information, such as recipes and books.

Some kids have no hobbies to translate into businesses. Even though they have no ideas, they would still like to explore entrepreneurship. For those kids, here are a few ideas that most young people from 12 to 18 can start on their own. It's up to you as the parent to decide whether your children are old enough to handle the businesses they would like to start. The ventures discussed here are actually being implemented by young entrepreneurs across the country.

Helping the elderly. This is needed in many neighborhoods. Quite a few senior citizens live by themselves and have no one around to run errands, move furniture, or install window-unit air conditioners. Your youngsters can help. The only requirement is that your kids should be good organizers and leaders. Here's how I envision the service working. Senior citizens will call your youngsters if they need something done, such as going shopping. Your kids should have some guidelines as to the sort of services they will perform. And at the same time your children are soliciting the elderly, they should also recruit kids who will actually perform the services.

Cleaning cars. To start this business, your children can come up with a catchy flyer to be passed out to all the car owners in the neighborhood. They should advertise that their service is a package deal in which both the inside and outside of the cars are thoroughly cleaned for $20. For extra services such as carpet cleaning, they can charge an extra $10.

Servicing lawns. This is one business that has stood the test of time for young people. Of course, your kids must have access to a mower and safety gear, and they need to be old enough to safely handle it. But it's a relatively easy business to start and more services can be added to make pocket money. Savvy young entrepreneurs know they can also offer such services as shrub maintenance, weeding, and sidewalk grass trimming.

A lucrative lawn service depends on the demand for it in your neighborhood. If you live in a residential area with houses, your kids should get plenty of jobs. And the best way for your kids to reach these customers is to go around the neighborhood, ring doorbells, hand out flyers, and talk to people. Your kids could also advertise in the neighborhood newsletter or newspaper to reach customers.

Cleaning homes. Years ago, people were assumed to be wealthy if they had their houses cleaned. These days, both parents in a house may have full-time jobs, so there's less time to do cleaning. And a house-cleaning service is perfect for kids if they have little or no startup funds and no experience. If they can dust, vacuum, make beds, and empty trash cans, they can be successful at this business.

Your kids should charge anywhere from $8 to $12 per hour. For an adequate price quote, have them look at the house or apartment. When they go to the appointment, the prospective client should tell them exactly what items need to be taken care of. Your kids and prospective customers should walk through each room, and your children need to record everything they are to do. When your kids have gone through the entire house, they ought to calculate how much time each task will take. They might estimate 20 minutes for the vacuuming, 5 minutes for polishing the table, etc. Then, have your children give the prospect an estimate of how much time the cleaning will take. One word of advice: Before your children accept a client, visit the potential customer's home to get a feel for the type of people your kids will be dealing with.

Young Entrepreneur Organizations

There are several programs that can help your kids become business owners. Here are a few:

  • Junior Achievement, 719 540-8000
  • Future Business Leaders of America, 703 860-3334
  • Distributive Education Clubs of America, 703 860-5000

Emmanuel Modu is the founder of The Center for Teen Entrepreneurs, an organization that promotes awareness of entrepreneurial aptitude among families in all socioeconomic levels. Modu lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children.

Reprinted from The Lemonade Stand: A Guide to Encouraging the Entrepreneur in Your Child
by Emmanuel Modu.
Copyright 1996 by Emmanuel Modu.
Published by Gateway Publishers.
Reprinted with permission of Gateway Publishers.
May not be modified, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted,
transmitted or distributed in any manner.
Available from Amazon.com or by calling 800 511-2394.

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