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I volunteer with a local Boy Scout troop, and one of the topics that we will be discussing in the near future is personal finance/future career possibilities. One of the topics that I would like to hit is entrepreneurship. Since they are too young still to get regular jobs (only kids between the ages of 12-13 will be in this segment), I wanted to have them come up with ways that they could make money. However before putting myself in front of a bunch of rambunctious kids I wanted to pose the same question to the FWF community to see what types of ideas you can come up with so I can use the material to lead the discussion in case no valid ideas are presented by the kids.

Basically I want to present the following questions:

How could a 12/13 year old kid go out and make:
$1?
$5?
$10?
$20?
$50?
$100?

Keep in mind that being only 12/13 they are limited by having close to no capital, very little means of transportation and minimal hours available to "work" and no access to credit lines (unless a parent steps in - but I don't want to have to count on that). But on the other hand, their opportunity cost is rather low so things that an adult would consider an inefficient use of time to earn a couple of dollars might be worth it to them.

My general philosophy while working with the group is to enable the ambitious, inform the interested and entertain the rest. So I am looking for not only valid ideas that some of them might try, but also funny things that will at least make them laugh. Also worth noting is that this is not a fundraiser of any sort - I will just present the idea and if any of them do it, it will be on their own time.

Sample ideas:
$1 - buy candy and resell it
$5 - go door to door selling "no soliciting signs"
$10-20 - mowing lawns

Just to get the formalities out of the way: 1 - No I will not send pictures, 2 - when it is time to teach them to drive I will be looking for a crown vic.

Any ideas to add to the list?

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Hehe we had a similar points system in the 5th grade where we would redeem the points at the end of the year

I was the ba... (more)

SUCKISSTAPLES (Nov. 22, 2012 @ 2:54p) |

I would highly suspect there was no kid at all and they weren't particularly religious.

But they may have just thrown ... (more)

jerosen (Nov. 22, 2012 @ 3:11p) |

When I was in school, I did other student's homework for a fee.

BradMajors (Nov. 22, 2012 @ 6:22p) |


When I was in the 4-5th grade I sold yo-yo's to my classmates. I'd take their money upfront, purchase the yo-yos on my way home to school and keep a percentage as my fee.

I actually made quite a large sum of money doing that but, the teachers shut me down because they felt it was a distraction.

lemonade stand? maybe a group enterprise selling something at a table in front of a supermarket (with permission)? doesn't BSA have like popcorn and stuff you can sell?

dAtAb3aN said:    No I will not send pictures

I would hope no one would be asking for photographs of 12/13 year old boys.

You could have them ask around if anyone needs leaves raked; a lot of people like to have them raked and bagged for some reason. They could start a grass mowing service when weather gets warm again. When I was in middle school people did that and made about $200-$300 a week doing that.

My daughter wanted to do a snow cone machine at our last neighborhood garage sale. You can rent the machine and buy supplies from Amazon. We weren't able to do it at this last one but will try for the next one. It brought about several discussions on marketing, unit pricing, and budgets. It does take some start up capital, but that's a business lesson too. See if they can get investors.

I think that part of the value is that the idea comes from them. That way, it can be a more meaningful lesson even if they fail.

If you live somewhere cold, hot chocolate or coffee in front of a store, gym, athletic fields, or subdivision entrance would be reasonable. One kid can advertise, another can do operations, one can manage customer expectations, and the last procurement.

waiting in line for people (eg - for Black Friday, the latest Apple product, etc)
going early and holding picnic tables for people at popular parks
assembling furniture (eg - Ikea)
yard work
painting house address numbers on curbs
dog walking
car washing
tutoring

bbr said:   My daughter wanted to do a snow cone machine at our last neighborhood garage sale. You can rent the machine and buy supplies from Amazon. We weren't able to do it at this last one but will try for the next one. It brought about several discussions on marketing, unit pricing, and budgets. It does take some start up capital, but that's a business lesson too. See if they can get investors.

If you go with selling sno-cones, for Pete's sake, get the pointy little funnel-shaped cups to put your sno-cones in. The local sno-cone stand puts them in styrofoam cups (sacrilege!) instead, and while less messy, it takes the childhood joy out of eating them before they start leaking.

OP - What about building/painting/selling those pine-derby racers cars?. Kits can't be that expensive.

What about pocket knives? Its in the spirit of scouting/surviving in the wilderness, and I suspect you could find a souce the same way you find cheap LED flashlights at Meritline.

When I was in 8th grade, we had a similar assignment. We sold doubled up balloons full of sand as stress balls. A sack of sand was 4 bucks, a couple of bags of multicolored balloons, at ~$4 bucks each. Sold them for $2 each. Got an A on that project! This was almost 20 years ago.

firebreather said:   When I was in 8th grade, we had a similar assignment. We sold doubled up balloons full of sand as stress balls. A sack of sand was 4 bucks, a couple of bags of multicolored balloons, at ~$4 bucks each. Sold them for $2 each. Got an A on that project! This was almost 20 years ago.
+Green

Let the customer pick the color of the balloon, write their initials on it with a permanent marker, and charge an extra $2 for this customization.

ankitgu said:   firebreather said:   When I was in 8th grade, we had a similar assignment. We sold doubled up balloons full of sand as stress balls. A sack of sand was 4 bucks, a couple of bags of multicolored balloons, at ~$4 bucks each. Sold them for $2 each. Got an A on that project! This was almost 20 years ago.
+Green

Let the customer pick the color of the balloon, write their initials on it with a permanent marker, and charge an extra $2 for this customization.


Market them as "iBalls" and Apple fanboys will pay $10 for a sand balloon.

if you live near a gym, set up an energy shot stand.

get those small cups, pour ice cold monster drink on them and sell them 50 cent a piece to those heading to gym

money2011 said:   When I was in the 4-5th grade I sold yo-yo's to my classmates. I'd take their money upfront, purchase the yo-yos on my way home to school and keep a percentage as my fee.

I actually made quite a large sum of money doing that but, the teachers shut me down because they felt it was a distraction.

I resold gummy worms I'd buy in bulk. My cost was about 3 cents each and I sold them for 10 cents each. Sold 30-50 a day at school, kids would come over after school and I'd do $10-20 more. I cleaned out all their remaining lunch money from 4th-6th grade. I too got busted in 6th grade for selling in class and lost my student of the month award

Made about $1100 and kept a tally on a piece of paper on my fridge

I sold blow pops. Also bought in bulk, sold for .25, made a couple hundred bucks before I too got busted. I also learned that there are no barriers to entry in the blow pop selling business as 2-3 other kids started doing the same and cutting into my business.

raringvt said:   I sold blow pops. Also bought in bulk, sold for .25, made a couple hundred bucks before I too got busted. I also learned that there are no barriers to entry in the blow pop selling business as 2-3 other kids started doing the same and cutting into my business.

I didn't get busted until I started breaking knees to create barriers to entry.

I'd tell them to do some kind of job that involves manual labor, it would help them learn the value of an education.

Encourage them to do one of the following:

- Shovel Snow
- Rake Leaves
- Wash Cars
- Pull Weeds
- Mow Lawns
- Clean Pools

I've done all of these at one point in my life and they helped me realize the value of a dollar and more importantly education. The fact that anyone off the street, including a 12 year old can do these jobs just shows you how you must differentiate yourself and learn valuable skills that will keep you gainfully employed for the rest of your life.

I noticed in your post you didn't want this to be about a fundraiser but I think you will have an easier time for the kids to get what you are trying to teach them if you relate it back to the fundraisers the troop already does. I don't know if this is universal but all the troops where I live sell popcorn and mulch (different times of year). I think the kids could learn a lot about business by explaining to them the backside money of all of this and put together some time and income graphs or stats or something like that.

I think by using the fundraisers they are familiar with the lesson will be better absorbed. My concern would be if you told them about reselling candy (or what ever it is) all they will think about is reselling candy and will think about gross sales X #ofcandybars * $Y = $Z total money and any entrepreneurship or business lessons will be lost because they will all be sitting thinking about making money for themselves instead of listening to you.

Also a random fact that I would talk about is the troops (at least in my area) make about the same selling a box of popcorn vs a bag of mulch, but the mulch is way more of a pain to get and deliver. Basically not all job that pay the same are equal effort, find what is best for yourself. Hope this helps. I think it is great what you are doing investing in kids.

Once I needed $20 quick so I bought the multipacks of Hershey bars from the grocery store for about 33cents each and went door to door selling for $1 each , made up some bs about a fundraiser

One of the things that I don't think is stressed enough with kids, but is an equally important topic. Kids need motivation to push themselves harder in a direction they will be happy with. It isn't so much about the money as them realizing that they don't want to be saddled with any old unskilled labor job for the rest of their life. They need to learn to choose their future rather than settle for what is left after everyone chose their future.

I mean no disrespect to anyone with a "unskilled" labor job, but I have had my son work on various projects. The most recent was to replace attic insulation. Afterwards, we had a long talk about whether or not he would like to do that for the rest of his life. After the project was done, he was very adament about not wanting to do a job like that again. I explained to him that jobs like that can produce a livable wage. We also talked about how as he works his way through school, he makes choices that affect the opportunities available to him in the future. Everytime he chooses not to complete a homework assignment or master a concept, he inches a door closer to being shut.

I do notice that everytime I have my son work on one of these projects, he does just a little bit better in school for a few months. As he gets older, hopefully he doesn't need reminders as often.

I'll neve forget what a young roofer yelled down to me as I was walking from one college class to the next -" get your degree so you never have to do this shit " . I'll never forget that

Design and build an iphone app or game.

Put out flyers for 'bottle collection' as a fund raiser... Stop back the following weekend and pick up the bottles and collect the deposits .. Recycling and fundraising in one

beanie4me said:   raringvt said:   I sold blow pops. Also bought in bulk, sold for .25, made a couple hundred bucks before I too got busted. I also learned that there are no barriers to entry in the blow pop selling business as 2-3 other kids started doing the same and cutting into my business.

I didn't get busted until I started breaking knees to create barriers to entry.


Brother and I did the same! Sadly had to stop cuz the damn kids would leave their wrappers in the bus seats.

Car wash.

Definitely focus on integrity in any business endeavor.

A few years back, I bought a Logitech 1.3mp webcam off eBay that was advertised as new. Turned out it was an old sub-VGA model (for years the Logitechs all had that same ball shape, so I can partially forgive some confusion) that was beaten up, scratched, broken, DOA and shoved into a 1.3mp container that looked like it had been run over by a truck and had obviously been re-sealed with tape on at least four separate occasions. The seller had included some religious nonsense in their "Just mailed your webcam" e-mail. I complained vociferously to the seller and stated that it was highly ironic that such religious people could be so incredibly dishonest. I got a lengthy response back from the seller's dad, who advised me his middle school-aged son (who he had been home schooling to provide a faith-based education) had been selling on eBay for a few years which he had encouraged him to do to develop his entrepreurial spirit. The dad's response was kind of weird, half highly defensive, half acknowledging that his kid had badly screwed up. However, he stated that he was going to make his kid go to Best Buy, buy me a brand new webcam, and give me a full refund. I told him a refund was enough,as I had already bought a replacement locally. I found it was highly ironic (but rather typical for ultra-religious types) that their devotion to their religion did not incorporate a commitment to strong integrity-based ethics; apparently lots of praying exempts one from bothering with being an honest, good person.

Initially I thought of suggesting the eBay route (even having them scour FW for deals to resell, as some adults do here), but it might be too complicated to get multiple kids involved.

Thinking about what I would have the most interest in having a neighbor kid do for me, it wouldn't be mowing the lawn (I don't mind doing it and it's relatively easy) or shoveling snow (I need to do it very early in the morning), it would be something that's far more annoying and tedious: weeding my gardens and flower beds. A lot of people already have some sort of lawn service taking care of their grass, but unless someone is wealthy enough to have a dedicated gardener, they are doing their weeding themselves.

OP, be careful of how you are having these kids sell their business ideas. You do not want them misleading people into thinking that they are fundraising for their scout troop when they are really just earning for themselves. You probably ought to have them leave out any mention of scouting at all, unless they are giving all proceeds to the troop or some other charity.

A final comment on youth fundraiser ideas: the Girl Scouts have the right idea, with their cookies. Sell a very popular, widely-consumed product for roughly the going market rate, at a reasonable, affordable price ($3.75 a box) and provide a product that is as good or better than what one can buy in a store. Every year we get people at my office bringing in fundraiser sheets for their kid's hockey teams or schools that are hawking items at ridiculous prices, such as $25 candles and $20 boxes of microwave popcorn. Half the people who would otherwise be glad to contribute toward the organization are turned off by the excessive pricing - no one wants to pay a 2500% markup on a bit of scented wax in a glass jar or 1000% markup on 10 bags of microwave popcorn, good cause or not.

SUCKISSTAPLES said:   Once I needed $20 quick so I bought the multipacks of Hershey bars from the grocery store for about 33cents each and went door to door selling for $1 each , made up some bs about a fundraiser


wow, I never thought I'd have a reason to red SIS. What you describe is fraud.


Anyway, back on topic:


If you could come up with a way to scan 4 barcodes and print them out on a little card, and laminate that card, you could take 4 loyalty card barcodes and put it on one card, so the customer didn't have to carry around a bunch of loyalty cards. I'd bet people would pay money for this.

I recommend checking craigslist for mis-priced items with poor photos, buy, and then resell for the difference after taking some better photos and writing better descriptions. This exercise has a little of everything:

- Knowing the product, such as features, specs, and how it compares to other similar products.
- Knowing the market, how well products in this market segment sells (e.g. avoid baseball cards).
- Negotiations skills, on the buy (no one wants this, lemme have it for $5) and on the sell (dude, they won't stop calling me, you can have it for $20)
- Importance of writing good ad copy with good photos that touches on what's important to buyers.
- Multi-channel marketing if you can resell on craigslist, eBay, and Amazon
- Hardwork: it will take patience, and a lot of learning to succeed
- Risk of loss: they will lose money on some items

It doesn't have to be expensive items. They can start out with something they know: video games, toys, etc.

When I was in the 4-5th grade I sold yo-yo's to my classmates. I'd take their money upfront, purchase the yo-yos on my way home to school and keep a percentage as my fee.
I bought smart phone to my son and he is selling wi-fi hotspot in the school bus.

Max, garage sale-type items aren't all that's available on Craigslist - do you really want 12 year-olds poking around all corners of that website? Don't they have one or more personals sections that are essentially a listing for "escorts" and booty call requests?

there's always money in the banana stand.

You may want to check out TrueSmarts.com there is a wonderful activity with a kid centered business plan and some ideas for business that they could run. Here's the url: http://www.truesmarts.com/activity/advanced-kids-business

This is also something that I stumbled upon - it might help you too: http://olm.bloomington.k12.mn.us/sites/default/files/content_file_attachments/101%20Kids%20Business%20Ideas.pdf

Good luck - and good for you taking the initiative to encourage kids to be entrepreneurial!

lousygolfer said:   Max, garage sale-type items aren't all that's available on Craigslist - do you really want 12 year-olds poking around all corners of that website? Don't they have one or more personals sections that are essentially a listing for "escorts" and booty call requests?

craigslist got rid of the escort section...sadly

Oh man, this brings me way back...I know this one is really bad. So bad, that I have since gone out of my way to donate $ etc. to good causes in attempt to "make up for it," but since we're sharing... Around 10 yrs old, my friend and I found a weird, small, flat typewriter/word press machine in his father's garage. We were huge into baseball cards at the time. A few years later, around 12, sometime in the early 90's, those really expense glossy Studio cards were introduced. They were expensive at around $5-$6 a pack. If you collected, you know what I mean. A typical Griffey, McGuire, Frank Thomas card etc. would be worth a few bucks, but a "promo" version was worth $25 easily (promos had no stats on back and were labeled "for promo use only"). A key rookie promo card was worth a lot more... Again, you'll know what I mean, if you collected. Anyway, one day, we realized you could simply erase all of the stats off the back due to the gloss coating... We did this and then used that old typewriter to print "for promo use only" on the back. It more than tripled the value, if not 5 fold. Rookie cards, a lot more. For two years we did this. Almost every week. We would ride our bikes to every card shop, card show etc. If too far away, we got a ride from our parents. Trade them for real cards at higher values then trade in for more packs of Studio cards. One huge viscous cycle, over and over. I won't say how much $ money we made, but we stopped around 14. At 16, I used the last $1,000 to buy my first Ford Escort beater... By far the most dishonest thing I have ever done, at least for such a long period of time... Needless to say, if you have any of these today, take a close look! Pretty sure we single-handily flooded that market. Crap, I'm going to hell (if it exists)...

NikeFace said:   By far the most dishonest thing I have ever done, at least for such a long period of time...

Care to elaborate more?

You are a minor , it doesn't count

Just don't do it after you turn 18

Thanks for all of the suggestions, when I have a little more time after work I will take a few notes down on what has been said. But with all of the crazy stories that have been shared, I figured I would add the following. Unfortunately it was my brother and not myself, I was too introverted and scared of getting in trouble as a kid to do anything like this:
I know my older brother used to make a killing selling candy in school when he was a kid. During recess the "cool kids" would sneak away to the local corner store and buy candy, then come back and eat it in front of the swarms of jealous kids who were scared to go on their own. So he went down and bought a couple of nickel candies and rather than eat the candy sold them for 50 cents each. He then reinvested the money the next day and had an instant business.
Somehow my mom found out and being a pretty awesome mom, became the supplier for him and would send bags of stuff to school for him to sell. His trick was to never eat the candy himself - so he was able to go years without getting caught because he would always sell out before the teacher started looking for the source and he would have a clean backpack to show the teacher.
Later in high school he ended up buying the cheap $5 Rambo knives from the back of the Boys Life magazine and selling them for $25-$35 a pop (we can only assume none of those knives were used for deviant causes). He always had a knack for finding stuff like that and raking in the dough.

I used to buy, sell, and trade baseball cards in elementary school... really did well in 6th grade.

Unfortunately I did so well that all the kids' parents banned them from further baseball card transactions with me.

scottybweyy said:   NikeFace said:   By far the most dishonest thing I have ever done, at least for such a long period of time...

Care to elaborate more?


No thanks! I'll say this- we moved from a major city to a small, very safe town when I was about 9. Essentially, my dad bought me a bike that day and said "stay within town limits." I was only 9 but I guess my dad was proud to get us there. Man, I had freedom, which is how I pulled that off. I was the richest, self made, 13 yr old! Keep that in mind Dads! I lived like a king for 2-3 yrs and was stil able to buy the car. I was pimping! Pizza and sodas on me! haha. Hardest part about it was coming up with stories to explain everything that I bought like video games, consoles, clothes, Nikes, gifts for girlfriend, even one of those first edition flat sceen tube tvs. Told them that i won it - my parents must have thought I was the luckiest person ever. Scheming like that was bad but the web of lies was worse. I've since told my dad, who I suspect was curiously proud of my ambition, but never mom. Never!

Skipping 14 Messages...
When I was in school, I did other student's homework for a fee.



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