Turning babysitting into a business
Many teens don’t think of themselves as entrepreneurs, but with a few business skills and some initiative, they can increase their profits and abilities.
As students prepare for summertime activities, many will be thinking about jobs or ways to make money. Some youth will babysit for extra money in the summer as well as to get job experience, but most of them will not think of themselves as entrepreneurs. If a teenager were to apply a few business skills to their babysitting endeavors, they could increase their experiences, knowledge and possibly even their profit. Business and entrepreneurship skills can help in several topic areas, including market research, target marketing, value-added services, goal-setting, record-keeping and professional demeanor. More information on how to think of this summer job as a business can be found in the accompanying article, “Can a babysitter be an entrepreneur?”
Any business owner can benefit from recognizing who their target market is. These are the people most likely to buy a product or service. Babysitters may initially think their target market consists of all parents, but they can benefit from narrowing their focus. One way to do this is to think about geography – a certain part of town, subdivision or school district. A different factor to think about is ages of children; one babysitter may feel more comfortable with older children while another babysitter may want to focus on babies and toddlers. Another possible target could include families with multiple children; more kids may mean more money for each job.
Once a target market has been identified, it is easier to create marketing materials, such as flyers, brochures or business cards, because the message can be tailored to that audience. It is also easier to figure out how to distribute these materials. Safety note: Minors should always discuss with parents their plans for marketing their babysitting business! Referrals from trusted adults are much safer than broadcast messages in public spaces.
In conjunction with choosing a target market, doing some market research will help a budding entrepreneur figure out some key elements.
- What is the right price to charge for babysitting?
- Are there qualities that parents look for in babysitters, like certifications, age, transportation, price, availability?
- What other factors might influence a parent’s choice? Healthy snacks, arts and game activities?
Teens can put together a short questionnaire and interview some members of their target market. This information can help when deciding what services are most important to customers as well as appropriate pricing strategies.
After some research has been done, teens will know more about what their customers are looking for when they hire babysitters and can market appropriately. At this point, they can also think about value-added features. In a business that sells a product, such as strawberries, a savvy entrepreneur can think of new ways to market that product that will add value – and therefore fetch a higher selling price – such as strawberry pie. In a business that sells a service, such as babysitting, value-added features might include other services available, like dishwashing or tutoring, or something that adds value to the original service, like bringing arts and crafts supplies. Youth can think about their strengths and interests when creating value-added services in addition to what their market research tells them their customers want.
There are many ways for a babysitter to think of themselves as an entrepreneur, and applying one or more of these skills to a babysitting venture can lead to increased success as a babysitter and a business owner. Michigan 4-H has resources and information about entrepreneurship and money management. You can also read these Michigan State University Extension articles for more information, “Hitting the bull’s eye: Defining your target market!” and “Is your summer job worth more than money?”