This article is part of a larger series on Starting a Business.
Business ideas for kids typically require little training, minimal equipment, and are time flexible. Before officially selling their services, children should practice the job with family and friends. For example, they should learn the basics of lawn care by tending to their family’s yard as a prerequisite to providing lawn maintenance services to paying customers.
Every kid-run business benefits from a website. A website gives businesses credibility and makes it easy for local customers to find them when searching for their products or services. DreamHost is an all-in-one website platform with hosting, domain name registration, and a WordPress website builder. Build your website with Dreamhost today for less than $10 per month.
Here are 12 creative business ideas for kids:
1. Car Wash & Detailing
Offering car wash and detailing services is a great business for kids. It’s simple to start and doesn’t require transportation to reach customers. Kid entrepreneurs can advertise to neighbors and walk to their homes to wash their cars. It’s an easy business to learn, because they can practice on their own parent or guardian’s car.
A simple car wash business costs less than $100 to get started; the main supplies they’ll need are buckets, soap, sponges, and towels. Additional costs include items like wax, a buffer, vacuum, interior detailing wipes, and leather seat wipes.
Kids can charge between $20 and $50 for a full car wash that includes rims and tires, depending on the size of the car. If they include car detailing (wax and interior cleaning) in the service, they can charge anywhere from $50 to over $100 per car, depending on the vehicle size and the detail of the wax job.
2. Lawn Care Services
Similar to car detailing services, a lawn care business is also a good business for kids because they can learn how to operate it at home before taking on clients. They don’t need transportation to service clients; equipment can be pushed or carried to a neighbor’s home.
Purchasing lawn care equipment can be expensive. However, parents and neighbors are usually open to lending out equipment they own to aspiring kid entrepreneurs. One opportunity kids should look out for is when their neighbors become injured, sick, or incapacitated in some way that they cannot mow their lawn; this is a good time to offer services and truly help someone.
“The best business I’ve seen actually run by a kid is mowing lawns. There’s a kid in my neighborhood who’s going into the 8th grade this upcoming school year, and last year he started mowing lawns.
“He’d charge $20 per lawn, per week, and the lawns in my neighborhood probably take about 30 minutes each to mow. He was able to get five customers, which ended up being $100 per week and $400 per month—which is crazy for only working a few hours per week and being 12 years old. I’d recommend kids look for business ideas that handle the grunt work that adults hate. Stuff like mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, cleaning inside houses, and so on.
“People hate doing these chores and already hire landscaping companies and cleaning companies to do this work for them. But instead of paying $30 per hour to a professional, you can charge half as much as a kid. You’ll get tons of clients, because you’re a cheaper alternative. Also, just because you’re a kid starting a business, you’ll get some sympathy.”
– Jim Barron, Owner, AcceleratedFi.com
3. Graphic Design
With basic design skills, creative kids can design marketing materials for small businesses. Many small businesses don’t have the budget to hire a full-time graphic designer to create logos, brochures, flyers, and postcards. A kid with Photoshop or Canva software skills can create dozens of different marketing materials for small businesses. Photoshop costs start at $9.99 per month, and Canva is free.
Additionally, kids could set up a profile on freelancing websites, like Fiverr, to get projects from around the world. We recommend doing several design projects for free and learning the skills before joining Fiverr so that they don’t get any negative reviews. Depending on skill level, child graphic designers could earn anywhere from $15 to over $50 an hour doing graphic design work.
4. Create Websites Using a Web Builder
With advances in software, it has never been easier to build a website. Companies like Wix and Squarespace have created website builders that make it easy to publish a website without using code. A tech-savvy kid could learn how to use one of these web builders and create simple websites for local small business owners.
Typically, the minimum a freelancer will charge to build a website is around $1,500. Kids could design a website of similar quality and charge $500 because it’s not their full-time job. Additionally, they could charge extra to teach business owners how to use the website builder software, so they can edit without having to contact the web designer.
5. Babysitting Business
A babysitting business is a common venture for teenagers to pursue. Babysitters earn anywhere from $10 to $25 an hour depending on how many children are being babysat. To find a family that needs babysitting services, they can join a website like Care.com. Anyone between the ages of 14 and 17 can join the website, although they need a guardian’s approval.
“Caring for children requires maturity and responsibility, but parents are often nearby, if needed. For those ages 11 to 15, the American Red Cross offers cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), first aid, and babysitting classes that provide a strong foundation in child care.
“For teens aged 16 and older, a licensed technical college now offers online training with Child Care Diplomas and Certifications. These programs, offered by Amslee Institute and taught by college faculty, allow teenagers to develop a career, from being a sitter to a professional nanny.
“After completing training, it’s easy to start as a sitter by reaching out to neighbors, families, and friends. Sitters can also post their services in community newsletters, apps, and on social media pages.”
– Elizabeth Malson, President, Amslee Institute
An alternative to taking care of children is acting as a caregiver to an adult in need. A caregiver typically helps an elderly person with transportation, housekeeping, and basic food preparation; they also offer companionship. With over 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day, caregivers are in demand and will continue to be over the next several decades.
Although the basic duties of a caregiver don’t require training, we recommend first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training. As a caregiver, a kid could earn anywhere from $10 to $20 an hour. The only cost will be transportation to the client’s home.
7. YouTube Channel Business
Kids are featured in some of the highest-earning YouTube channels, including Ryan ToysReview, which earned over $22 million in 2017. YouTube pays its channel owners for showing ads before their videos start. Anyone can earn from $2 to $5 for every 1,000 views. Additionally, once subscribers increase to thousands or higher, brands may offer to pay for sponsored videos.
The cost to start a YouTube channel is minimal. A smartphone is all kids need to get started. The challenging part about having a YouTube channel is video editing, which must be done on a computer. It’s time-consuming, and the average video can require several hours to edit. Basic video editing is certainly a skill that teens can learn, but they’ll need software, which typically costs anywhere from $100 to $300.
8. Reselling Items on eBay & Amazon
To start earning money, kids can find items at garage sales, flea markets, and around the house to resell on eBay and Amazon for profit. Typically, eBay provides the better reselling opportunity, because the market mostly consists of selling used items. However, Amazon could be a great platform to resell used electronic devices that are in good condition.
When an item is sold on eBay, it charges 10% of the final sale price as a fee; Amazon’s fees vary, but are typically 15%. The amount kid entrepreneurs can make on either website vary greatly depending on the items sold and how much they were originally purchased for. Additionally, if a kid learns how to resell items online, they can charge family and friends a fee to resell their items, generating two income sources.
“We started with having our young kids take part in selling toys they no longer used at garages sales and on eBay. Recently, they sold some American Girl Dolls on Letgo. It was an amazing experience.
“First, they tried bundling all the dolls and clothes together to sell for $400, because they wanted a trampoline. We said yes, but only if they earned the money. It wasn’t selling at $400, so they lowered it a bit and began negotiating with an interested buyer who offered $250. They even had one buyer who didn’t show up to pay and pick up the merchandise. These are life lessons they’ll have forever.”
– Mike Kawula, Co-founder, Dinner Table MBA
9. Sell Handmade Items on Etsy
If a kid enjoys making handmade items and art, such as jewelry, knitting, scarves, wood signs, or soap, they can sell them on Etsy.com. Etsy is a platform for people who specialize in selling unique, handmade, and custom products.
It can take time to gain traction and make sales on Etsy. Potential customers frequently shop at stores they like and enter reviews after they buy an item. Once there are enough positive reviews on a store’s site, Etsy will start promoting its items higher in its search results. To get their first sales, kids may be able to use their social media accounts to promote their Etsy products. They can make posts about their handmade items and direct followers to their online store.
It’s free to open an online store on Etsy; however, it charges 20 cents to list an item along with a transaction fee of 5%. There’s also a payment processing fee of around 3%.
10. Commercial Photography
Commercial photography is a business that doesn’t require much equipment. The latest smartphones are often called “smart cameras” because they contain more camera technology than computer technology. If a kid has one of the latest smartphones (no more than a few years old), they can take quality photos for customers. Additionally, smartphones come with built-in editing features to make photos look more colorful and bright.
Small business owners are great clients for kid photographers. Typically, they need photographs for social media and their website, but they don’t have the budget to pay a professional photographer. A kid can make anywhere from $30 to over $200 for a photo shoot. One cost kids may need to fund before starting this business is an online course covering iPhone or Android photography. This course will teach them how to utilize all of the free features on their smartphones.
11. Dog-caring Services
In the past 30 years, the number of households with a dog went up 58%. This presents teens with a great opportunity to provide dog-related services, such as walking, sitting, and grooming. Many dog owners are away from their dogs for over 10 hours a day. A kid who gets out of school early can create a business walking dogs for owners who are gone for many hours throughout the day. Kids can earn up to $20 per walk.
Once a kid develops a relationship with a dog owner, they can offer to watch the dog while the owner is out of town. They can earn up to $50 a night watching a dog. To ramp up their entrepreneurial efforts, they can offer grooming services to the dog owner as well. Depending on their experience and size of the dog, kids can earn $15 to $50 selling dog grooming services.
“A fantastic business idea for kids is pet-sitting. As a business owner myself, my kids have always been interested in running their own ventures from an early age. So when they were around 10, I helped them create flyers to pass out in the neighborhood. The flyers included a bit of information about each of them and that they were available for pet-sitting, pet cleanup in the yard, or even available to help give pets a bath by bringing over their own soap and brushes.
“They ended up getting a ton of calls from our neighbors and had a great business going! As a pet sitter, kids learn a lot about responsibility, as they know that the animals depend on them to show up and provide care
“They also, of course, learn the value of working and earning money, then spending the money as they want. My kids usually always had a goal—they would save up a certain amount to buy whatever hot-ticket item they wanted at the time.”
– Nellie Akalp, CEO, CorpNet.com
12. Computer Setup & Repair
A tech-savvy kid can create a side business helping adults set up their new computers. Simply helping a customer install the right software to get a computer functioning is a viable service. Additionally, if a computer becomes infected with a virus, they can run virus removal software to clean the computer and get it working again.
Working with software on a computer is a more advanced side business, but it is within reach for a kid who is comfortable with technology. It’s a good idea to purchase an older computer for them to practice on, so they can experiment with downloading software and backing up a computer’s information before working on a customer’s computer. Working on computers is a great skill for kids to learn, because they will carry the problem-solving skills they learn into adulthood.
Depending on the type of services their clients need, teens can charge anywhere from $15 to $65 an hour to help someone set up or repair their computer. The cost to start this business may be several hundred dollars to purchase an older computer and the anti-virus software to repair the infected computers.
Paying Taxes for a Side Business
When a side business earns over $600 in revenue, it’s required by law to report that income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). As kids earn money from their side business, it’s important that they save at least 25% of that money for taxes. They won’t have to make a quarterly income tax payment unless they’ll owe the IRS more than $1,000 in taxes. If they do owe more than $1,000 in taxes, a fine of up to 10% could be levied.
Starting a business as a kid is a fantastic learning experience. They learn that they can provide a service or create a product and get paid for it. After experiencing a little business success, kids can start scaling their business by hiring other kids as their employees. Additionally, they’ll learn quality money management skills through managing income and expenses within the business.
When kid entrepreneurs want to grow their business outside of their neighborhood and circle of influence, they will need a website to give them a presence on Google. Additionally, they can promote the website as marketing material. DreamHost is a platform where you can purchase a domain name, secure hosting, and build a WordPress website without using any software code. Get started with Dreamhost today for under $10 per month.
Got any other kid-friendly business ideas? Share them with us in the comments.