How to Start a Kid-Focused Business

What It Takes

Do you have what it takes to run one of these businesses? Not surprisingly, the typical owner of a kids' business enjoys being around children. Even if you're not dealing directly with kids on a daily basis, you'll still need to get feedback from them and be sensitive to their interests, so having an appreciation for how they think, learn and play is essential.

Personality Matters
Being interested in kids isn't all you'll need. Depending on what kind of business you start, you may need some of the following traits as well:

Patience: Working with kids takes patience, even under ideal conditions. Accidents and bad moods can create a tense atmosphere, not to mention you may need to deal with a wide range of behavioral issues, personality differences, energy levels and attention spans. You need to be able to work through it.

Flexibility: The ability to deal with the unpredictable glitches that arise is essential.

Sense of fun and wonder: Kids live in a world of magic, excitement and endless possibilities. Try to enter that world with them. This is especially important if you're designing kids' gifts or toys.

Empathy: Remember what it was like to be a kid? The better you are at putting yourself in the place of your young customers, the stronger your business will be.

Persistence and energy: As with any business, perseverance is an important success factor. Launching a business is a time- and energy-consuming venture. It's not unusual to work 70 to 80 hours per week during the first year, or even longer.

Helpful Experience
In addition to having a personality that meshes well with children, there is an entire range of skills and experience needed to run a business. If you're operating your business solo, you'll need all of them to at least some degree, unless you outsource the work. If you hire employees, make sure to hire people whose skills complement, rather than duplicate, yours.

As a general rule, you should have some kind of experience with whatever you're selling. You or your employees may need a background in the following:

Sales/marketing: While you don't need a degree, you do need to be good at selling-or hire someone who is.

Public relations: Any business owner needs to know some basic guidelines for dealing with the public and the media.

Accounting/bookkeeping: If you don't have an employee to handle these tasks, consider outsourcing them. To tackle them yourself, you'll need some previous experience and preferably a bookkeeping class.

Management: Chances are, you'll start out with no employees and therefore won't need this experience. As your business grows, it may become more important. The more employees you have, the more time you'll spend on management-type tasks. Informal management experience is usually sufficient for dealing with a small number of employees.

Design: If you're planning to design the products you sell, you'll need some design experience, preferably with the particular kind of item you have in mind.

Sewing/arts/crafts: Launching a custom sewing business (for custom-made plus-size kids' clothes) naturally requires skill at sewing.

Teaching: A teaching background is helpful, although not mandatory, for conducting cooking lessons. You can get by without formal training, but it's best to have at least some practical experience.

Cooking: As common sense would indicate, you need cooking experience, even if it's not formal training, to teach cooking classes. Even if you hire all your teachers, knowledge of cooking basics is important.

Event planning: There's no substitute for experience in party planning. Consider volunteering to help at a few children's events or getting a part-time job with another party planner to learn the ropes.

Parenting/mentoring: No matter what kind of kids-related business you decide to start, experience with children is important. If you don't have it, do whatever it takes to get it.

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