Hello, and welcome to Business 101. Today, I share a story from my lovely family. I am Mom, Dad is my husband, Big L is our eight-year-old son and first-born genius. There is also Little L, the three-year-old who hangs around the fringes of this story, and not to be forgotten, the girls (in between the bookend boys), JJ and JoJo.
Principle #1: Never Miss an Opportunity
Big L doesn’t like candy. He just never has. He’ll eat an occasional Smarty, and perhaps a Skittle every blue moon. Give him a piece of bread, oh, he loves bread, but the candy he’ll pass. There IS an exception. We had the annual Easter Egg Hunt at Aunt & Uncle’s house, and Big L was caught up in the wild excitement. He collected 43 eggs, all brightly colored and filled with candy.
The fact that candy is not one of his indulgences was no matter. Big L had a plan. Several days after Easter, he set up shop at our dining room table. He earned about $3.25 from his sisters who love candy, and were more than happy to buy his goods after they’d gobbled up their own baskets. “That will be 10 cents,” he’d say, eyeing the size of the candy. And “If you buy three, you get one free,” he would bargain. Even Mom and Dad bought some. (Some merchandise was eaten by Little L while he was “napping” one afternoon, else Big L would have earned much more.)
Principle #2: Fill a Need
This morning, Big L asked Dad a question: “Dad, what is something that every human needs?” I overheard the conversation, and thought perhaps Big L had a new joke, or a trick question. “I don’t know…why do you ask?” said Dad, not sure where the conversation was headed. “Well, I was thinking about inventing things, and figured I should make something that everyone would need, so they would buy it.”
Dad was amazed at the eight-year-old’s business sense! He has a business degree in marketing and management and can spot good business principles (though, honestly, such common sense does not come by degree). Being an entrepreneur himself, Dad was amused to see his son following in his footsteps. When Dad was not much older than Big L, he started a detective agency, a candy store, and a football league. These little adventures into industry were short lived and not exactly successful, but are great examples of a child’s business mind at work.
Dad had a string of other businesses in his young life, and continues to this day with new ideas. He encourages this inventiveness in his sons and daughters. He sat Big L down and told him all about patents and the role of the patent in American life as a protection and encouragement for new ideas – new ideas which have shaped America’s amazing progressions in science and medicine and agriculture and other areas.
Dad has promised Big L that if he comes up with a really useful and unique invention, he will help him obtain a patent. For real. Even eight-year-olds should be given the opportunity to be the next Thomas Edison.
p.s. Lest you think our girls are any less business savvy or industrious, they melted down all the chocolate purchased from their big brother, and attempted to sell it at a much higher price to Mom and Dad. You should have seen the smooth division of labor: JoJo did the purchasing (as she just had a birthday and was the one with more money), while JJ made up the recipe for “Roasted Chocolate” with a fancy recipe card and all, and kept driving up the price.