5 Back-to-School Business Ideas

rsz_computerwithphone by Tim Parker on September 4, 2013
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If you happen to have a soft spot for all things related to kids, a business that caters to young people may be the entrepreneurial venture you’ve been looking for.

Statistics suggest that catering to adolescents can be lucrative: By 2020, there will be around 80 million Americans under the age of 18, accounting for 24 percent of the U.S. population. Children ages 8 to 12 spend about $30 billion of their own money each year and have influence over another $150 billion spent by their parents.

If those numbers make you see dollar signs, here are a few business ideas to consider.

Tutoring — Let’s say you’re a retired professor or have expertise in a particular academic field. Students often need extra help with the three R’s and more in order to pass state-mandated tests. Becoming a tutor requires very little financial investment, and you can work either for yourself or for a private or public institution. Teaching experience is desirable, of course, but not mandatory. Services like Tutor.com help to connect you with parents looking to hire tutors for their kids.

Personal Training or Coaching — Being a star athlete doesn’t just come with bragging rights. A scholarship could be a student’s ticket to graduating from college debt-free. Standing out in the crowd, however, may require some extra work. If you have high-level skills in a particular sport, or if you are a personal trainer, giving one-on-one or group sessions could turn into a profitable business. Like tutoring, coaching requires very little financial investment. However, having verifiable credentials can help you get clients quickly.

Custom Apparel Supply — You could open a teen clothing boutique, but competing with Forever 21 and the like is a tall order. Instead, consider selling customized apparel. Who supplies school jackets or athletic gear in your area? What about T-shirts and other apparel bearing school logos? Are there schools in your area that require students to wear uniforms? They might need accessories. If you don’t want to invest in a storefront, you could set up an eBay store or an e-commerce website.

Mobile Food Service — Have a knack for cooking foods that kids love? Mobile food service is a hot niche right now. Everybody from home cooks to gourmet chefs is taking their recipes on the road. You could, too. For instance, if you live in an area that hosts many large athletic events or other community activities, your great-tasting snacks could be a hit among the hungry hordes.

Special Needs R&D — Does your child have special needs, or do you have experience working with other kids who do? Perhaps you can come up with a viable alternative to a mainstream product or service that isn’t practical for this demographic. In the past, companies have introduced therapeutic toys for children with autism or light filters for youngsters with sensory issues. The key here is to look for unmet needs and find a way to meet them.

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Tim Parker is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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