“Do you want fries with that?” If your teen’s idea of a summer job doesn’t go beyond the deep fryer, the lifeguard station or the babysitter’s checklist, it’s time to broaden her horizons! Even in the shadow of the economic downturn, enterprising young adults are finding ways to line their pockets. For those who want to challenge the teen summer job stereotypes this summer, entrepreneurial opportunities abound.
Themed Day Camp Director
Got a block full of young kids? Capitalize on that and help your son or daughter organize a week-long day camp.
Teen To Do List: Decide on a theme based on your potential clientele—something like “Under the Sea” might work well, for example, if you have a group of Little Mermaid-loving preschoolers in your area. Based on your target age group, establish a reasonable time frame for your day camp; generally, anywhere between 2-4 hours works best. Next, choose activities, crafts and snacks based on your theme—a water play day complete with mermaid fashion show, a DIY “ocean in a bag” (blue hair gel, gummy fish, sand and seashells) and Goldfish crackers can create a memorable day for kids and unite a whole neighborhood in fun. Teen camp “counselors” can make flyers a few weeks before camp to generate interest and charge patrons by the week or the day.
Tips & Tricks: If interest runs especially high in your neighborhood, consider hosting a few sessions throughout the summer and altering activities and themes to meet the need of older or younger neighbors. An initial “orientation” with interested campers might give you some insight into the demographics of your neighborhood and help you plan sessions accordingly.
Caution: When working with children, safety is paramount. Consider getting CPR certification, investing in safety scissors, avoiding foods that could present choking hazards, etc.—and don’t forget to draw up a permission slip so Mom and Dad know what Junior will be up to!
Creative Memory Consultant
If you’ve got a scrap-happy child, help her turn her artistic vision into a summer job as a memory consultant!
Teen To Do List: Parents have the best of intentions to keep their kid’s baby book going, but even the most well-meaning among them often fizzle after that first year and let pictures pile up in a drawer. If you’re handy with the stencils and stickers, start up a neighborhood business creating scrapbooks for others. Charge by the page or by the book, with special rates for a guided shopping trip with your customer through your local craft store. Regular scrappers will have most of the essential tools on hand, but here’s a money-saving hint for the rest of your gear: create a few themed sample pages (sports, school, vacation, etc.) and take them around to interested neighbors. Buy those special embellishments—the school bus stickers, the soccer motif border—after your clients order so as not to over purchase.
Tips & Tricks: Once you’ve earned some money, consider investing in a pricier scrapbooking tool that might set your business apart from others, like a Sizzix machine or some Martha Stewart punches. Another great take on the scrapbooking idea is to organize a “Lil’ Scrappers” class for children interested in making their own mini memory books. Coordinate this with a summer celebration like Father’s Day or the Fourth of July and save on holiday decorations.
Caution: Memories are very personal. Work closely with your clientele to guarantee their happiness—and double check the spelling on all names!
Does your child have a knack with animals? Dog walking costs next to nothing to start up and can be especially profitable in the summertime when pet owners may want to avoid the heat.
Teen To Do List: Advertise your services at a local animal shelter or pet store. The best times to walk are often in the early morning and at twilight, though you might want to propose a special “after hours” service for clients who work a little later. Spend some time getting to know each customer’s dog and make sure its leash is in good working order. Map out a safe route, keep extra water for the dogs on hand, and talk to pet owners about any dietary restrictions before offering treats to an animal.
Tips & Tricks: If you have a dog park nearby, you might consider offering a Saturday exercise session for clients with especially active dogs. Invest some of your earnings into rope pull toys and balls for your dogs so you’ve got something to set you apart from the competition.
Caution: Remember leash laws and make sure you’ve got the essential tools to clean up after the pets you walk.
Landscape & Gardening Professional
If your child has a green thumb, landscaping could help line his pockets this summer.
Teen To Do List: Look around your neighborhood for untrimmed hedges, overgrown lawns and neglected summer gardens. What are your neighbors’ landscaping needs? Raid the garage for the necessary supplies—rakes, hoes, spades, hedge trimmers first, and then determine whether or not you want to throw in additional services (like weed or pest control) that might require some up-front capital and a trip to your local home improvement store. Charge either by the hour or by the service with an “a la carte” option for clients.
Tips & Tricks: Sweeten the deal by throwing in your services as a gardener. Do some research: a variety of vegetables are strong enough to withstand summer’s heat, and a small herb garden can thrive almost year-round in some climates with a little help. Most families are looking for ways to cut costs during the economic downturn, and offering to help them plan and start a small garden could save them an extra trip down the produce aisle—a factor that will make your services all the more attractive.
Caution: Prepare for working outdoors by using sunscreen and staying hydrated. Also, if you plan on using weed or pest control sprays, know the EPA regulations on their usage.
Preparation can make or break any small business enterprise. Bruch Hodgman, Deputy Director of Arizona’s Small Business Administration, says, “My advice to anyone thinking about starting a small business or even a lemonade stand: have a well prepared plan, make your idea match your resources, remember that 80% of all new businesses start without borrowing money . . . learn how to be an entrepreneur before you start.” With a little foresight and ingenuity, any teen can make summer earning fun.