Looking for a project to keep the kids and grownups alike occupied during the summer months or throughout the year? Start exploring the benefits of family entrepreneurship with this list of fun ideas.
By: Rebecca Graham
If your ideal family culture involves creating memories, learning new skills, making a positive difference in your neighborhood, and spending time together as a family, a family side hustle might be just the project to pursue.
Whether your collective endeavor produces mere pocket change or funds a future family vacation, running a business together can teach your kids the following entrepreneurship lessons and life discoveries:
- Everyone has something to contribute.
- Crafting even a simple business plan will keep everyone on the same page and set you up for success.
- Sometimes teamwork looks like alternately laughing, crying, and talking things out.
- With some creativity, you can stick to your budgets for inventory supplies and marketing…and everything else.
- Putting the customer first can encourage customer loyalty and benefit the business in the long and short terms.
- Even if you “fail” by some counts, you’ll learn valuable lessons along the way.
Legalities of kid-run businesses
Depending on where you live and what you’re doing for your business, there may be some permit and business license requirements to consider, even for a side hustle or micro-business.
In the United States, for example, only 14 states legally allow lemonade stands without a permit. If you reside in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, or Vermont, you’re good to go. But every other state requires a permit regardless of the age of the person selling.
Will your neighbors get mad and complain if your kids run a little lemonade stand without a permit? Probably not. But it’s still good to be aware of your state’s guidelines (consult USA.gov’s state-by-state business resources), especially if you want to potentially scale your business.
Contact your state’s department of revenue to determine if you need to collect and report sales tax. If so, don’t be intimidated: it’s as simple as filling out a form and making sure you know how to correctly calculate and collect sales tax.
The idea list
Now, on to the fun stuff: generating product and service ideas and pinpointing the one(s) that works for your family.
Keep in mind that no matter what everyone else is doing, the best business for your family will depend on your unique talents, resources, and goals. You may be able to monetize your favorite family hobbies you’ll be doing together anyways. Take some time to thoughtfully brainstorm, daydream, and observe wants or needs that you could fill.
Most of these ideas require little to no starting inventory. But if you’re dreaming big and you do need to finance any startup costs, you can apply for a business credit card or line of credit for as low as $1,000 through a business loan network like Lendio.
Note: If you pursue a business that involves food preparation, especially during a pandemic, be sure to obtain food handlers permits and strictly implement sanitation and cleaning protocols like disinfecting prep surfaces and wearing gloves, masks, and hairnets.
Got some favorite family recipes you want to share? Assemble ingredients for same-day fresh meals to provide a more affordable alternative to big-name meal kit delivery services. Or, take it a step further and prepare the meals fully so they’re ready to pop straight in the oven for a ready-to-go meal or in the freezer for a future day.
Raw agricultural sales generally have fewer restrictions than other types of micro-business sales. Plus, few things are more satisfying than enjoying delicious, fresh, local produce. Plant a garden, nurture it with care, and see if you can make a profit off your labors at venues with vendor opportunities, such as a farmers market.
Quick-maturing crops like spinach, peas, carrots, and beats allow you to utilize the same garden space over and over again in the same season. Corn and watermelon are popular at roadside stands. Now might be a good time to prepare for your very own pumpkin patch in the fall.
Does someone in your family have a green thumb or a knack for floral arranging? Summer is a great time to further develop these skills while adding cheerful colors to the lives of your neighbors and friends. Personalized floral delivery is a welcome service for holidays, birthdays, and whenever someone needs encouragement.
Roses, gerbera daisies, sunflowers, and marigolds can stand up to summer heat when cared for properly.
A classic lemonade stand is sure to attract at least a few customers who need to empty out their change jars. Think outside the box to make the business even more fun — and profitable.
Whether it’s a roadside sign or a flyer you leave at your friend’s doorstep, a memorable visual identity is a key to establishing your brand.
Where a treat stand is relatively simple compared to some other business options, your family may want to plan more than one, recording thoughts and observations during each iteration, reflecting on the following:
- What menu items should we make more of next time?
- What menu items should we remove?
- Should we re-price any items?
- How is our location working? Is there somewhere else we should try?
- Can we incorporate themed treats or decorations to delight our customers?
- Should we increase signage to attract more customers?
Arts and crafts
Summertime calls for summer wardrobes and accessories. And your family’s business can play a role. If you rock at tie-dye, dye t-shirts, swim covers, and socks. If drawing or lettering is your forte, make sure your network knows your family is available for graphic design consulting for family reunion tees.
Even doodlers can find lucrative opportunities for custom shoe design via permanent marker.
Bold, fresh, homemade accessories like duct tape wallets and now-retro boondoggle keychains can be great additions to your family’s wearables line.
You’ll pay close to $100 for an already-assembled fairy garden at a nursery. There’s a market for more affordable options for parents and kids alike.
Watch for nature treasures you can incorporate for free, like pebbles, rocks, and soil. Source the rest of the individual elements — containers, gnome and fairy figurines, and other themed pieces — online, from second-hand stores, or even your local dollar store to get more bang for your buck.
Make your works of art truly unique by offering themed gardens: jungle, butterflies, Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc.
Even if your entrepreneurial experience is as micro as it gets, it’s okay to dream big — including a business that involves big products like custom tables, benches, and desks. Smaller items like floating shelves, planters, pots, and toys could also do well in a family woodworking shop.
Even the littlest of kids can learn how to use all of the tools through observation, and they can personally aid in the design, shopping, and staining stages.
If you weren’t scheming up business ideas for your family, it’s possible you’d have plenty to do with yard maintenance alone this summer. And your neighbors are in the same boat. Decide what your family can handle and consider offering your services in the yard, including:
- Laying sod
- Mowing and edging
- Taking loads to the green waste center
Operate a bicycle repair station during the summer months when people are riding more than usual. Teach your kids how to pump up bike tires, locate and repair a tire tube leak, and lubricate gears for optimal riding. Consult YouTube for detailed tutorials on other bike maintenance, repair, and modification procedures.
If your kids have been nagging you to get a pet, this business idea may do just the trick to appease your kids’ need for animal interaction while teaching them firsthand about the very real responsibility for their well-being. A pet care business can include pet sitting, walking, or grooming. This could later result in starting a business such as a pet shop, selling dog multivitamins, supplements and pet food.
Family fun kits
To help other families make fun activities a convenient reality, assemble family fun kits complete with all needed supplies and instructions. Here are some examples:
- Science kit with elements of basic, DIY home science experiments
- Camping kit with matches, kindling, hot dogs, and s’mores ingredients
- Dot mandala kit with acrylic paints, stones, and a variety of dowel sizes
- Beach kit with the sandbox or beach toys, funky sunglasses, a kite, and a frisbee
- Herb garden kit with herb starts, pots, and potting soil
Host a camp or series of camps for the kids in your neighborhood, letting your kids lead the way with their own interests and talents. Consider soccer, dance, art, science, or outdoor skills camps.
The bottom line
The exhilarating thing about starting a new business — even a tiny family one — is the unknown future and the feeling of hope it makes space for.
The final result of your entrepreneurial adventure could be memories of happy, money-smart kids in your photo reel, or it could be the first of an annual tradition that prepares your kids for big life decisions like future careers. Both outcomes should be considered a success.
About the Author:
Rebecca Graham is an outdoors-loving millennial mom and a research-loving content marketer with experience writing for consumers in the business, finance, and career realms. She is the content manager for a data-driven business loans reviews platform.