By Rieva Lesonsky
It’s almost time for school to start, and as a result millions of parents nationwide are going back to school shopping. But the back to school season isn’t the only time when America’s kids are shelling out big bucks. If you’re thinking about starting a business, consider launching one targeting children and their parents.
Back to school time or no, children of all ages have a lot of power in today’s world. One especially profitable category for a children’s business is tweens—those kids in between childhood and the teenage years. Roughly ranging in age from 8 to 12, these children not only spend an estimated $30 billion of their own money annually, they also influence another $150 billion spent by parents, grandparents and others. Teens are a hot market, too, with more power over their spending and more money to spend.
What are some children’s business ideas to help you target the kids’ market? Here are some hot products and services that appeal to this age group (and their parents) at back to school time and beyond.
Fashion and accessories: Especially at back to school time, both boys and girls will shell out cash for fashions that display their sense of style. A children’s business selling clothing and accessories can be a hit. The prevalence of school uniforms in some areas of the country has increased demand for accessories such as hair ornaments, jewelry, belts and backpacks that help kids personalize uniforms so they stand out.
Educational and tutoring services: Financially strapped school districts nationwide are cutting budgets, with seemingly no end in sight. Parents are willing to pay to get their kids the help they need keeping up with their classmates, so a children’s business such as tutoring services is likely to be successful. At the same time, some schools are retaining entrepreneurs to provide tutoring services on-site.
College prep: Competition to get into good colleges is stiffer than ever, and parents and kids struggle to wade through the maze of applications, interviews and essays. That’s not even counting the struggle to find financial aid, which can be a full-time job in itself. No wonder parents are willing to pay companies to help their kids prepare for tests, put together a standout application package, and find financial aid solutions to shoulder the costs.
Kids’ sports and fitness: Despite hand-wringing about a nation of obese children, when school budgets get cut, physical education is one of the first things to go. That’s why businesses that help kids get and stay in shape are surging. From mobile gyms in trailers that teach kids tumbling, to gyms that cater to kids and families, there are all kinds of ways to shape up a business by helping children shape up.
Extracurricular activities: Getting into a good college requires extracurricular activities like music, art and dance—the very things being slashed from many schools’ budgets. Start a business teaching these skills and you’ll soon hear the applause from parents.
Lice removal: Bloomberg Businessweek recently highlighted this fast-growing industry, which helps parents and kids deal with the annoyances of head lice. These infestations are springing up even in affluent communities—and parents are willing to pay to pass the headaches of nit removal on to someone else.
As the lice example shows, you’d be surprised what kinds of businesses can be built around kids. Get to know some kids, keep your eyes open and it won’t be long until you’ve got a profitable startup idea.