When I was a kid, I used to make hundreds of dollars every November. Somehow, I got connected with a Christmas card company. They had a program that allowed me to go door-to-door selling boxed cards; and lucky for me, when I was a teen, those Christmas cards with the person’s name pre-printed on the inside were all the rage.
It was also safe for me to wander my neighborhood for hours completely alone. Perhaps not so much anymore.
The cards were very high quality, complete with foil-lined envelopes and the aforementioned personalized pre-printing. People loved them. Almost every person who opened their door bought them. It was a simple process – and super convenient, too. My timing meant that they would get the cards well ahead of the holidays. It was like I hit the jackpot every year. And I never had to worry about earning money to buy Christmas presents!
I guess my entrepreneurial spirit carried through into my parenting.
I really wanted my kids to have the satisfaction of coming up with a plan, executing it, and earning some money of their own.
Entrepreneurship for Kids: Starting Early
When the kids were a little older, I hosted a large children’s clothing and toy sale. About 20 families participated by bringing gently used items for sale. We had a two-day yard sale on Friday and Saturday and sold thousands of dollars’ worth of used children’s items.
It was also the perfect opportunity for my kids to have a little business. Yes, I was busy and tired, but I couldn’t pass up such a great chance. We would go to the store and purchase snacks and drinks, and I would front the money for the supplies, since they were still pretty young.
They did have to pay me back for the initial supplies, but would usually make at least $25 dollars each in profits. They had tons fun and were incredibly proud of how they set up their “store.”
You’d be amazed at how much candy and soda the kids sold over those two days!
Helping Your Kids Earn Money: Let Them Get Creative
When my son was a little older, he found an opportunity similar to my Christmas card business. There was a little company that sold all sorts of good-quality cute “stuff” that made great gifts for kids to give to teachers or for adults to give to co-workers for the holidays. It was a little overpriced in my opinion, but he wanted to give it a try.
Before you start judging, no – I didn't let my 12-year-old wander the neighborhoods alone.
I walked every step with him and waited on the sidewalk while he knocked on doors. I was amazed at how many items he sold!
The company allowed him to collect the money for himself, keep 50 percent of it, and mail the other half in when he placed his order. He did have to deliver all the merchandise when it arrived, but that was super easy. He sold the most in November and cleared about $750 every year! There’s nothing else I can think of that would have allowed him to make so much money just from knocking on doors for a couple of hours a week.
Keeping the Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive
Of course, when they got older, the kids found their own ways to earn money. My daughter cleaned my mom’s house once a month, and my son helped my dad with his firewood business. Not one of these endeavors was convenient for me. Kids who want to run a business – no matter how small – are probably going to be a royal pain in the neck for their parents. That’s just how it is.
My daughter started a project at 16 that is now her full-time business. My son has started two businesses of his own, in addition to working a regular full-time job. I love seeing that spirit in both of my children. It makes all the hassles from their childhood totally worth it.
Maybe they would have done these things on their own, but I like to think that their dad and I had something to do with lighting that entrepreneurial fire underneath them. It does take some extra effort, but helping your kids earn money on their own will help them grow – and that’s priceless.