Home Town Tour Guides – A Creative Kids Family Business

With school out for the summer it is a great time to introduce your kids to entrepreneurship. Your children can become “Home Town Tour Guides!” Instead of having to come up with activities for them all summer, give them the opportunity to open their own tour agency! Younger children can do this for family and friends, older children can expand and even turn this into a summer job!

Operating a “Home Town Tour Guide” business gives you the opportunity to teach your children many valuable skills. Research, project planning, budgeting, salesmanship, marketing, networking, and customer service are just a few of the skills that can be learned through this very low-cost business venture. Here are the basic steps to get you started.

Do your research

The first stop should be your local tourism info centre. They will be able to provide you with maps, activities to do, popular places to go and things to see. The local museum is also a gold mine of information about the history of your town – it is always good to show you are knowledgeable about the places you will be visiting. This might even inspire its own unique tour ideas. An Internet search can provide samples of tours in other towns and show you how to construct a tour itinerary.

Create a Business Plan

This will be the backbone of your business and getting kids to think in terms of planning will help many aspects of their life as they grow older. It allows you to raise questions and discover answers and will give your business venture direction and will double your chances of success.

A basic business plan should include: The name of your business, a mission statement, a list of start-up costs, an explanation of the products and services you will provide, who will be involved in your business and what their job will be, who your target customers will be – what do they like and not like?, ideas for advertising, even a sample tour. Most of these items will involve research of some kind. An advantage to a business plan is it gets you thinking about an idea critically, which will save you time and money down the road.

Find Your Start-up Capital

Did you create a budget in your business plan? Great! Knowing how much it will cost to start your business is very important. Things to consider include labour costs, advertising costs, equipment costs. If you are a teenager and would like to sell this tour to other families, you may need to invest in a babysitters or first aid course. You might want to go on a few tours in your community to see how other tour operators plan and conduct their tours.

There are many creative ways kids and teens can finance their own start-up. Savings or money from birthday and other gifts, running a smaller business such as a lemonade stand, or even finding financing. This is a great opportunity to teach kids about loans and interest. As an investor, you should be asking to see a business plan and a short presentation on their business idea. Then you can negotiate an amount to loan and what the conditions will be. Will they have to pay you back a portion from each week’s profits? Do they have to pay the loan back before they make any profits? Will you charge interest? You probably don’t want to be charging interest but it is a great opportunity to teach how the real business world works.

Creating your tours

What will make your tour operation unique and different from any others in the area? To figure this out, you have to work on your USP, your “Unique Selling Proposition.”  Plan your tours and itineraries and figure out all of your costs – this will determine what you charge. If your tour will include entrance to any local landmarks or places you have to pay to enter, call and ask about a group rate. Or, explain your business venture and ask for a deal if they are not advertised. The better deals you can get, the more money you get to keep.

Once you have created a tour it is a good idea to do a dry run and get feedback from those you trust. This will allow you to see problems ahead of time and give you practice in conducting a tour. As a result, you will have satisfied customers who will tell their friends!

Marketing

After you have planned your tours planned you have to fill them. You can do this by word of mouth, creating posters, calling friends and family you think may be interested, taking out an ad in the local paper or radio, putting up a list of tour dates and activities in your local tourism info centre.  Young children can have a successful business selling tours to friends and families, older teenagers may want to branch out into their community.

Customer Service

There will always be surprises when dealing with the public, so you will need to learn to think fast on your feet and trust your intuition. The general rule is if you have happy customers, they may tell one or two people, but the unhappy customers will tell everyone they know.

You will not be able to please everyone all of the time, but if you give it your best effort you will develop customer service skills that will help you out your entire life. At its simplest, customer service is the golden rule – treat your customers the way you would like someone to treat you.

This post is a basic business plan in a nutshell. Each of these areas can be expanded on and explored together. If your kids are going to try and open a business, it should be a family business with parents or another trusted adult acting as the role of mentor and teacher. It is a fantastic opportunity to learn together.

For more information on starting your own business, please see my post about the PBS program Biz Kids. It’s a fabulous resource for kids, all about managing money and business!

If your family/kids have started a business we would love to hear from you and do a feature on Growing Creative Kids!

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