March 27, 2023

As a parent, have you ever wondered how best to cultivate your teen’s inner entrepreneur?  Sure, you’ve gone through the 4-step process to help your child develop a business idea. And yet, sometimes you just need a kickstart to get those creative juices flowing.
With that in mind, how about a quick rundown of the kinds of entrepreneurial jobs teens might consider starting this summer? Not only do you have the three usual suspects, but it’s not too hard to find three unusual suspects. What many, if not most, overlook, however, is the one rare suspect. Find all seven below and a bonus you simply won’t believe.
Usual Suspect #1: Lemonade Stand
OK, let’s stop right here with this time-honored tradition. It seems quite a few municipalities have been cracking down on these roadside ventures. The reasons range from lack of permits, to Health Department issues, to the kids being just too darn young.
It’s come to such a point where New York State is considering legislation specifically permitting child operated lemonade stands. (This came about because last summer the New York State Department of Health forced a 7-year-old to close his lemonade stand.)
Who knew such a classic rite of passage now needs explicit government approval?
Still, serving food and drink does present certain issues, so it’s understandable and easier (as well as prudent) to limit the “make something” category to arts and crafts. Think of the kinds of things kids assemble at summer camp. Small little knick-knacks that are cheap, easy and quick to make while also serving a useful purpose. For example, pencil holders, picture frames and kitchen magnets fall into this category.
Of the three Usual Suspects, this one requires the most financial attention. “Teens must create a budget to make sure that their income will be more than their expenses,” says Jamie Hammond, Executive Producer/Co-Creator of BizKid$ in Seattle, Washington.
Usual Suspect #2: Babysitting
This represents the first of our service categories. We’ll call this “passive” services. That means you don’t have to necessarily do something unless the situation demands it. For example, in babysitting, if the baby is sleeping, you don’t have to do anything unless the baby starts crying. Then, hopefully because you’re properly trained, you’ll know what to do.
When it comes to “sitting,” however, think outside the box (or the baby crib). Teens get paid for house sitting and pet sitting. In fact, dog walking is a business model adopted by many people well beyond their teen years.
Whereas the first Usual Suspect emphasizes accounting smarts, the second Usual Suspect stresses reliability. “Teens must establish that they are dependable and will be responsible in delivering the service that they are offering,” says Hammond.
Usual Suspect #3: Lawn Mowing.
This is the “active” service category. In other words, you don’t get paid for watching the paint dry, you actually have to do the painting. Landscape maintenance is a perfect example of this. Not only does this include mowing the lawn, but you will often find yourself weeding the garden, edging the grass and watering the plants.
This third Usual Suspect requires some budgeting (since you have to spend money for the equipment) and demands reliability. In addition, though, you’ll also add the need for a specific skill set that matches the job. “Offering a skilled service is taking on the responsibility of knowing how to do the work and delivering a good quality job in performing that service,” says Hammond.
Don’t limit your active service to the outside world. This time think inside the box (or the house). You can hire yourself out to organize a neighbor’s messy garage or shed. Similarly, empty nesters might want a more thorough house cleaning (to rid themselves of their now-vacated kids’ old stuff).
This last job actually introduces us to an entire new list of “Unusual Suspects.” Now we’re stepping into terra incognito for most parents. It’s also a most lucrative arena. Teens who master this domain may discover for themselves not only a summer job, but a lifetime career.
Unusual Suspect #1: Online Selling
You know all that junk you just pulled out of your neighbor’s house? They might ask you to dump it in the trash can, but you might profit by remembering the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” There may be a market for that trash. Setting up an eBay store is one way to determine if there is.
Selling another person’s “trash” could therefore bring in two paychecks for the same job: the first one for cleaning out the mess; and the second one for selling the unwanted materials collected from that mess.
Want a variation on this theme? Try combining Unusual Suspect #1 (Online Selling) with the “make something” category (Usual Suspect #1 above). You may uncover an easy way to distribute those things you make. Word of warning: Don’t forget to account for the cost of postage in your pricing strategy.
Unusual Suspect #2: Content Creation
Here you venture into the realm of the YouTube star. Of course, it’s not limited to YouTube or even videos. Any type of creative content (videos, podcasts and blogs) can be distributed and monetized via the internet. This might have been easier a couple of years ago before popular platforms changed their rules, but it’s still possible today.
Teens who have a hunger for entertaining and public presentation can excel in this arena. They will learn marketing techniques that will prove useful in many other fields and careers. In fact, by demonstrating acumen here, less social media conscious members of older generations may just hire you to become a…
Unusual Suspect #3: Social Media Manager
Remember the joke about the parents who had their toddler work the VCR? (For that matter, do you even remember VCRs?) Face it, when it comes to the latest technology, anyone who doesn’t remember VCRs or CDs or iPods or Myspace (before it was an all-news site), qualifies as a social media expert.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are, but it’s a lot easier to get your foot in the door. Having the experience managing your own content (see Unusual Suspect #2) can give you an edge. Speaking of gaining an edge, there remains one kind of summer job that will give teens the ultimate advantage. You might call it…
Rare Suspect #1: The Family Business
If you want to excel in any field, it’s best to have an experienced mentor nearby to hold your hand. What better mentor than a parent? Working for the family business blends together a powerful series of tools and opportunities that can help propel the budding teenage entrepreneur to greater heights.
Parents serve as handy role models for their children. Watching mom and dad perform their jobs on a day-to-day basis shows the kids far more than any words can ever explain. When children see what their parents do as entrepreneurs, they’re more likely to pick up on it.
There’s an added benefit to working in the family business. Depending how it’s organized, minor children working in a parent-owned business can improve family wealth. These children, besides being in lower tax brackets (remember, the first $12,000 earned falls within the standard deduction and therefore pays no federal tax), may not have to pay payroll taxes. If the family lives in a state with no income tax, then the child pays no taxes of any kind on the first $12,000 earned. Even with state income taxes, the amount paid can be very small.
Here’s an amazing bonus to all these seven types of jobs. Because of the low tax rates, these teens can retire as Child IRA multimillionaires tax-free by establishing a Roth version of the Child IRA!
Who knew you could be all set for retirement by the time you graduate from high school?


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