Whether it’s setting up a lemonade stand or performing open-heart surgery, the principle of exchanging goods or services for money is a fundamentally important one to communicate to children.
And because kids are able to do something like sell lemonade, rather than a highly specialized medical procedure that requires years of training and practice, it’s often their first taste of entrepreneurship.
That was the case a few weeks ago with my 10-year-old twins, who collaborated with a 9-year-old neighbor girl to sell cups of the sweet stuff to passers-by near our home.
They made about $4 apiece and I was especially proud of my daughter when she informed me that she would donate all the coins she had collected in the transactions to Feed My Starving Children.
It was an exciting experience, and they didn’t waste any time brainstorming other ways they can make money. Only a few days later, my daughter postponed her breakfast so she could catch the early-morning foot traffic heading to and from the nearby Farmer’s Market.
Her merchandise this time around: nine colorful potholders, most which she had made over the previous few days. She came up with pricing ($3 each, or 2 for $5) and designed a sign listing those rates.
Looking for a prominent way to display her sign, she reached an agreement with her brother to rent a long cardboard fixture that he had made—his cut would be 5% of sales revenue.
With the skies darkening and the threat of rain palpable, it didn’t seem to be a great day for potholder sales—or selling much of anything, for that matter. But within 20 minutes, she was all sold out. Two customers handed over $10 bills for four potholders each, and the final potholder sold shortly thereafter.
My girl was ready to generate additional revenue, with a necklace and a bracelet she had made bringing in another $1.25. In all, she earned $24.25, with a portion of it again earmarked for Feed My Starving Children and $1.20 in rent going to her brother.
Interestingly, all of her customers were women, plus one younger teenager. All were very sweet in their encouraging words to my daughter, perhaps glimpsing a younger version of themselves in this redhead with pony tails. Eager to nurture her business-minded spirit, one customer repeatedly praised what she termed her “entrepreneurship.”
It’s a word with which she is very familiar, having heard it frequently from Mom and Dad in our conversations.
Much of that stems from being trained by World Wide DreamBuilders (WWDB) and its leaders at conferences like the upcoming Free Enterprise Days, as we have learned the principles of business, relational and overall life success. Another key source has been operating our other business ventures.
Entrepreneurship, for many years, has been a central facet of our life.
So, in addition to ensuring our children gain knowledge in subjects like English, history, science and mathematics, we feel it is equally important to convey, by word and example, that you do not have to become dependent on any one employer or organization for your economic survival.
One natural outgrowth of that worldview is to be open to pursuing money-earning interests “on the side.” As we have experienced firsthand, what may be “on the side” at one point can shift, over time, to “front and center.”
Hearing about entrepreneurship is one thing, but taking action and embodying it is quite another. So, to both my children, from lemonade and potholder sales to a cardboard fixture rental…I’m very proud of you!