When I was a kid, I once tried to make some extra pocket money by sticking up toilet signs on the bathrooms in my home and charging my parents 10 cents to use them. Today's kids are a lot more savvy-unlike Singaporean children growing up in the 80s and 90s, they know what it takes to be a social media star, and their aspirations are no longer to become astronauts and firefighters but investment bankers.
Instead of working at McDonald's for $5 an hour, here are some microbusinesses kids can start on their own.
Despite the low birthrate, the childcare business is booming in Singapore as busy mothers look for someone to deposit their kids with when they're at the office. Those families who don't have maids are often at a loss when they need to go out in the evenings and their in-laws aren't available to mind the child. With date nights becoming an impossibility for those with kids, it's no wonder many married couples are choosing not to have them, much to the government's chagrin.
With ad hoc babysitting services increasing in popularity, children with experience looking after younger siblings can become freelance babysitters or childminders for the parents in their neighbourhood. Spreading the word through parents and friends can go a long way, as many people prefer to have someone they know mind the kids rather than an anonymous nanny.
Selling crafts online
Any child with a talent for crafts can try their hand at selling them on Etsy, a huge website where people all over the world can peddle anything from hand-stitched leather bags to homemade comic books. Kids can have a great capacity for creating, unfettered by pressure from society to be corporate drones.
Even more amazing is the fact that over 30 per cent of sellers on Etsy have made a career out of their creative work. While pragmatic Singaporean parents might not like the idea of their child growing up to become a professional friendship band maker, it's proof that Etsy can turn an artistic person into a legitimate businessperson.
I live in an area where lots of people have dogs, and walking down the street is like being trapped in the kingdom of the hyenas in the Lion King, with packs of frustrated canines growling and snapping at you as you pass. Singaporeans are a busy lot, and many have no time to take their dogs out for some much-needed exercise.
Kids who live in areas with lots of pet owners can make a business out of dogwalking. Commercial rates are pegged at about $20 to $35 per walk, and well-socialised dogs can be walked in a group.
Baking cookies and cakes
Singaporeans are fond of buying cookies, cakes and pastries, judging by the number of bread shops and bakeries on the island. And taking orders online is a common practice amongst both online and offline bakeries-here's a list of some of the more well known ones.
What this means for a young person who knows how to use an oven and has some social media savvy is that running a small online business without having to spend large amounts of money buying stock is completely possible. Just bear in mind that there are certain restrictions on baking for profit in HDB flats.
Any local university student should be familiar with the bazaars that are perpetually being held on campus. Booking a booth at a bazaar can be an affordable way for young entrepreneurs to dip their toes into setting up a brick and mortar business. A booth at a university bazaar usually costs around $50 per day or $100 for 3 days, making it fairly easy to recoup costs.
While most bazaar stalls sell clothing and accessories, others provide all kinds of services, from nail art to palm reading. Bazaars are often organised by various clubs and societies at NUS, NTU and SMU, and booths can be rented by both students and outsiders. Alternatively, TGIF Bazaars organises bazaars at locations like Sentosa and Clarke Quay.
The article first appeared on MoneySmart.
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