Last Friday, our country woke up to the devastating news of the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan. For me, it was hard to concentrate on anything but the media coverage of this terrible natural disaster, and hoping and praying for the safety of those affected. It is in times like these, that we are thankful for the little things in life, and take pleasure in what we have around us. I took comfort in my 2 boys and the opportunities that are in front of them. The boys’ creativity, vibrancy, and outlook on the world is so reassuring. I decided to reflect a bit on these 2 mini-entrepreneurs.
A few years back when my older son was in kindergarten, I had a good friend that worked at his school. This friend lived right near a place that sold my fave low-fat brownies (I know – they were probably 1000 calories a piece, but that is another blog). It was a great set-up: my friend would get a week’s supply of low-fat brownies, put them in my son’s backpack at school, and I would have my most indulgent nighttime snack all week-long. It was my own personal low-fat brownie underground operation. UNTIL, one day in the carpool lane, I received a phone call from another mom saying she owed me money for the chocolate treat?!?!? I had NO idea what she was talking about until I pulled up further in line and my son got in the car.
Guess What? My son, who was 6 years old at the time, decided to turn the carpool waiting area into an entrepreneurial venture. He opened up the packs of brownies (2 per pack) and sold 1 brownie for a dollar each! At the time, there were still vending machines at school. so some kids had money for snacks, and for a few close friends, he issued credit. When I suggested that he return the money, he said “No Way!” He argued that the kids had their brownie and ate it, and it was only fair he keep the money. What he did not account for was that I was his financial backer with the brownies, and he would have to take the initial investment out of the gross (his first lesson in biz). This was the day when I realized that I was dealing with a kidpreneur.
My older son is lucky to have a little brother that is never afraid to speak his mind, thinks out of the box, and acts as a “profit coach” of sorts. Together, the two boys make up a great pair – one is very serious and “crosses every T and dots every I”, and the other brings the ingenuity and creative thinking. They appear to be on equal footing in their biz ventures because each one holds a different skill set, and they realize that! This is another valuable lesson in business for them – know your strengths and weaknesses and align yourself with someone who can fill your gaps.
My boys are known for their lemonade stand on the corner where our small street meets the main road. As soon as it gets warm, we are carrying down all the supplies to the corner. The little brother brings his unique skill set to the operation. First of all, he is not one to be shy, so he chases down every jogger, person walking a dog, and car going by, haranguing them to buy lemonade. Second, my little one took responsibility for instituting a price scale. The boys charge 50 cents for a cup of lemonade, unless you are family or a close friend when is it is $1. Yes, you heard me right — The friends and family discount is a $1. As always, I am the boys’ investor, and I still have to pay for a cup of lemonade. Another business lesson here: Never give anything away for free! My boys apparently have their own “spark and hustle” going on…..
At some point, these 2 kidpreneurs are going to have to learn to raise their own capital. In the meantime, they have moved into the service-based industry, and are doing quite well without needing anything to start their business up. Their foray into this biz started with a “valet” service, in which they open and close your car doors as you come and go from our house, with a hand out for a TIP! They have now moved into the biz of helping their grandparents with household work (carrying up laundry baskets, garbage removal, & grocery delivery). They are SUPER SMART because they always pre-negotiate a rate before rendering services.
I know that you are thinking that they should probably do this free of charge for the grandparents, but it is a good lesson in promoting oneself, running a biz, and saving money. Think about it? The grandparents are always going to buy them little gifts, but this way, they are earning their own money and saving up! The older one hangs onto the money and waits for a big splurge (basketball shoes) and the little one spends the money as soon as it comes in on whatever little trinket catches his eye. We are working on saving with him!
I am fairly certain that start-up biz is in these kidpreneurs make-up, and the possibilities that are in front of them are infinite. It is so awesome to watch these little biz guys grow up and learn life and biz lessons. I want to be sure not to stifle this creativity and imagination EVER. If your child has biz aspirations – here are a few steps that you can take with them to keep it going:
1) Take children’s plans seriously. Be a good listener and co-pilot.
2) Help your child flush out their idea and set age appropriate goals.
3) Do not discourage out-of-the-box thinking.
4) Praise success and help your kids learn from their mistakes.
Our children are our future – Not only do we need to make sure that they are safe, but also that their ideas flourish. There is a huge open road ahead of these mini-entrepreneurs.