Schools. They teach our kids math, history, science, language arts and a few other subjects. That’s all fine, I mean, I want my kids to be well-rounded members of society, but wouldn’t it be great if they learned business practices and negotiating in elementary and middle school, too?
A few hundred bucks at age 11:
Back in the early 90’s, at about the age of 11, I started my first business. It brought in a few hundred bucks, which I kept the money in an old shoebox in my bottom drawer. When good ol’ mom found the money one day, my parents sat me down and demanded to know how I got it.
Me: “I sold stuff on the schoolbus”.
Parents: What kind of stuff?
Me: “pens, candies, and yo’ mama jokes”
Yes…Yo’ Mama Jokes. my first true business venture, selling a 2 page printout at $3 each. My parents recently purchased a computer and hooked up a printer, so I’d print out pages of the jokes and go to the school library once a week and make about 20 copies. I’d walk on the bus each week with the latest edition of “yo mama” jokes, and these kids were hungry for it.
Passing the torch:
No, I’m not going to have my kids sell jokes on the bus, but that first business led to a life of small business ideas, and now I’d like to pass on the knowledge.
A few months ago, my 5 year old son approached me and asked for money out of the blue.
“Dad, can I have $25”?
You should’ve seen the surprise on my face, as if I’d woken up with my face sewn to the carpet. When I asked him what he wanted it for, it all started making sense.
“Because I want to save it in my piggy bank, so I can have money like you”
You can’t beat that answer with a stick! Good answer kiddo, but you’ll have to earn that money. That’s when I decided to teach my kids about earning a few dollars, investing in a product, selling smart, and reinvest the profits again.
The 5 steps I used to help my kids in business:
- My kids earn a few dollars doing extra chores. Mainly things I don’t want to do, but wife has tasked me with.
- I take kids to a wholesale shopping store and buy a 24 pack of gatorade, a 36 pack of bottled water and a few bags of ice. We calculate the cost-per-item and raise our price in order to make a profit.
- We fill a large cooler with ice and drinks, and head out to the park.
- While hanging out at the park/soccer game/any outdoor event, the kids sell the drinks.
- Ask politely and sell like a champ! People usually can’t resist a cold drink on a hot day, so they buy, especially from cute, polite kids.
You see how that works? The kids learn how to sell and make a profit, all under adult supervision, of course. They become knowledgeable in negotiating multiple water bottles for a certain price, and I’m there to make sure their profit is always in the positive. A win-win.
What do you think is important to teach you kids that schools don’t. Do you think business is important to teach children? Comment below.