Create Your Own Summer Job: 6 Ways to Make Money This Summer

Summer’s here, and opportunities for quick money abound. If you’re a recent graduate, a teacher or student off for the summer, or anyone else looking for some quick cash, summer’s a great time to start a business. With a little money, some hard work, and a lot of entrepreneurial spirit, you can start turning a profit immediately. And all of these ideas are things you can still walk away from in September if you want to.
There are plenty of public places that don’t have snack bars, and even the convenience store’s just not convenient enough. Bottled water, sports drinks, visors, cheap sunglasses, and battery-powered fans will sell anywhere there’s sun. Try parks, the beach, baseball practice field, or even a busy street corner near popular summer destination. You will need transportation, a decent cooler (28 quart or larger), four bags of ice, two cases of bottled water, two cases of sports drinks, a half-dozen sunglasses, a half-dozen visors, and a half-dozen battery-powered fans.  You will  need approximately $100 to get this going. Buy the sunglasses, visors, and fans at your local dollar store for starters. Even buying at retail prices, you should be able to charge double or triple your cost, or even more for the bottled water. At a good location, you should be able sell out every few hours, which comes out to $15-$30 per hour.
Things to watch out for: Check into your local sales tax requirements. Also, permits may be required at beaches, parks, and other public areas.
People who care for their own yard the rest of the year may not want to keep up with it in the summer, when it needs to be mowed every 1-2 weeks. And full-time professional yard maintenance services want to set up regular contracts. Offer a low price and don’t try to push the ongoing contracts. Be opportunistic. Drive through neighborhoods looking for yards that need mowing and leave a flyer. It’s hard work, but decent money if you control your costs.  You will need a heavy-duty self-propelled mower, an edger/trimmer, blower, hedge clippers, a gas can, and something to transport them all in.  Estimated start up costs: $1,000 new, $500 used, or you can rent the equipment you need for about $100 a day to get you started.  You can expect to make about $25-$40 per yard, on average. It will take at least a few of dollars of gas per yard, and figure another dollar or so for trimmer line, mower blades, etc. If you don’t have too much travel time, you should be able to do each yard in less than an hour.
Things to watch out for: Equipment maintenance can eat up all your profits very quickly. Keep it well-oiled, clean, and sharp. Also, don’t chintz on the equipment. The right equipment will allow you to work twice as fast. The wrong equipment will make some yards impossible.
Summer is family vacation time, and someone has to watch the pets and take the mail and newspaper in when everybody leaves for a week or two. If you can target your marketing to families, that will be most effective. You will need Flyers and a couple of classifieds in your local papers, insurance, transportation. Estimated start up costs will be approximately $200-$300. The going rates on pet sitting and house sitting range from $5 to $15 per visit, depending on the number and type of pets, frequency of visit, and expectations (long walks, etc.)
Things to watch out for: Trust is everything in this business. Be prepared to provide personal references. Network with everyone you know to let them know you’re looking for this kind of work. Referrals will be your best lead source.
People love convenience, and the idea of having your car cleaned while it’s already sitting there at their home or office sure beats the heck out of taking it someplace and having to wait on it. Luxury car owners may be reluctant to use machine washes, and especially owners of high-top vans and pick-up trucks. You will need transportation, business cards to leave on windshields, portable vacuum, a bucket, sponges, chamois, cleaning supplies. Estimated start up cost is under $100 to offer basic car wash services, up to $1,000 or more to offer specialized services. You can make $20-$30 per car for basic wash and interior on up to $100 or so for complete detailing (engine cleaning, etc.)
Things to watch out for: Know the Environmental Protection Agency regulations on the chemicals you use and local water usage rules.
For working parents of school-age kids, summer presents a real challenge. Summer camp may take care of a few weeks, a family trip another week or two, but then what about the rest of the summer? Find two or three families, or one with several kids, and take care of the kids during the day. You will need clean, reliable transportation, some classified ads, a love of kids. Start up costs are under $50 for classified ads. You can make $8-$12 an hour, depending on the number of kids. It’s less money than some of the other options, but it’s generally easier work.
Things to watch out for: Caring for multiple children not in the same family will generally require licensing and will require the facilities to meet certain requirements. There’s a big step from watching 2-3 kids from 1-2 families in one of their homes to watching 4-5 kids in your own home. Some states have licensing requirements for nannies, as well.
Opportunities abound for an individual with knowledge to share. Some kids need help catching up on one or two subjects, home schoolers usually school year ‘round, and many parents put their kids in summer classes on a fun topic like science, drama, or creative writing. You can tutor individual kids, or put together a group workshop or week-long classes. You will need some advertising and a facility, if you want to do group classes. Estimated start up costs are under $100 for flyers and advertising. For a facility, check local community centers, YMCA, etc., where you can usually rent a room for $10-$30 for 60-90 minutes, or $30-$50 for a half day. You can make $10-$20 an hour for one-on-one tutoring, depending on your qualifications. Classes vary widely in price, but with even a small turn-out, you should be able to make $50-$100 per teaching hour, but that doesn’t count marketing and preparation time.
Things to watch out for: Generally, teaching short classes that are not for credit doesn’t require any kind of special licensing, but check your local regulations to make sure that you don’t end up falling under the day care regulations if you have multiple kids.
*All of the above business ideas can be started on a minimal budget and bootstrapped by reinvesting some of your profits. While they have a seasonal element to them, they also all offer the potential of growing into a full-time, year-round business if you choose, but they’re all also things you can walk away from in the fall.
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