It’s Independence Day! For many business owners, the Fourth of July is a perfect opportunity to grow a small business. And as you know. When your business grows, you’re going to need more help.

It’s also summertime. The season when every entrepreneurial parent needs to find ways to keep their children safe, entertained and out of their hair. Well, why not share the thrill of entrepreneurship by getting your kids involved in your business, instead of sending them to costly summer camp or hiring a sitter? Call it “Camp Small Business”.

The children get a safe, controlled, teaching environment to spend their free time during summer break. And your growing business will get some well-needed extra help.

Here are some ideas for how you can let your kids help with your business and learn some valuable lessons along the way.

Young children won’t solve your business credit limits

Very young children probably can’t provide much real help in your business. However, you can give them some insight into what you do all day by having them near you at least part of the time. For instance, if you have an office-based business, have them sit near you and “work” on a tablet or laptop. Provide coloring books, drawing materials, calculators and other office supplies so they can pretend to “work” like you do. You’ll undoubtedly need child care for part of the day, but having the little ones near provides valuable bonding time.

Small Business Troopers

Once your children are old enough, they can go beyond “playing” at business and actually help with useful tasks. (You’re the best judge of what your child is capable of and suited for at each age). Depending on your business, you may be able to have older children help with:

  • Computer tasks such as inputting information, troubleshooting, creating listings on eBay, Amazon or Etsy, or helping with your website
  • Office work such as filing, alphabetizing, printing and stapling
  • Craft work such as making products for sale
  • Packaging products for shipping
  • Dog walking or grooming

Small Business Scouts

Children 12 and older can officially work for their parents in non-hazardous occupations; just be sure you’re following federal child labor laws, as well as the child labor laws of your state. Teenagers can handle more challenging tasks; in addition to those above, they may be able to:

  • Work as a retail salesperson
  • Work as a food server
  • Work in a trade show booth
  • Do house painting, yard work, janitorial or maid service work, detail cars
  • Work in your stockroom
  • Work in a mailroom
  • Do accounting chores

 

Tips for All Ages

However old your children are, these tips will help make their summer job a pleasure for both of you.

  1. Create a learning experience. Once your child is beyond the very young stage, don’t just occupy them with busywork all day. Provide a mix of work experiences, using the summer as an opportunity for the child to explore what interests him or her. If you make working in your business an enjoyable experience, your child is more likely to be interested in self-employment or running a business later in life. Even if they decide entrepreneurship isn’t for them, they’ll gain valuable work experience that makes them a better employee for others.
  2. Pay your children appropriately for their work. In addition to teaching them the value of hard work and money, it’s also a great way to keep money in the family and minimize business taxes. Wages paid to a child under age 18 who works for his or her parent are not subject to social security or Medicare taxes as long as the business is a sole proprietorship or a partnership in which each partner is a parent of the child. Visit the IRS website to learn more about paying your children.
  3. Teach them to manage money. Set up a plan for what your kids will do with their earnings, such as saving some, giving part to charity, and using the rest as pocket money. A summer job gives a child the opportunity to save for a big goal, such as buying a video game system, going on a school trip or purchasing their first car.

 

Rieva is a small-business contributor for Fundbox and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. She has spent 30+ years covering, consulting, and speaking to small businesses owners and entrepreneurs.