I grew up on a steady diet of Saturday Night Fever.
I distinctly recall getting my dad to crank up the Bee Gees for me and my friends to hit every single high note perfectly with our not-yet pubescent voices. There was a suitcase of cassettes under the front seat that also featured Roger Whittaker, Raffi, and Neil Diamond, but it was the disco that got me going.
Not my kids.
For the past year or so, we’ve plugged in podcasts instead of mix tapes for long drives in the summer or on weekends. And the boys are completely buying in. They’ll ask to re-hear favourite episodes and re-tell the stories and lessons they’ve learned from the more interesting ones.
The podcasts they love aren’t the typical fare you’d expect kids to dig into; they’re marketing and entrepreneur related podcasts.
How I Built This features host Guy Raz interviewing people on their entrepreneurial journey building such brands as The Home Depot, Reddit, and Dyson.
Under The Influence, a podcast I have loved for more than a decade, features host Terry O’Reilly‘s fun sing-song read giving the history of marketing from door-to-door salesmen to social media.
Both podcasts are light in their presentation but very heavy in their lessons. And while you might think entrepreneurship and marketing would be well over the heads of 8 and 10 year olds, my boys are fully involved and learning.
For the past couple of weeks, the boys have been debating what kind of business they should run this summer (thanks How I Built This episode featuring 1-800-Got-Junk‘s Brian Scudamore telling the story of starting a driveway car wash business).
Zacharie has been tossing around the idea of selling drawings to kids in school while Charlie has thought about starting a door-to-door grocery business that would sell vegetables we grow at our community garden. Facing reality that the harvest isn’t until the end of the summer, he pivoted to an idea to bake and sell scones to the neighbours.
So I decided to run with it.
WRITE UP A BUSINESS PLAN
He started drawing up art work to advertise his business. He thought putting flyers in everyone’s door would be a good way to drum up attention. He decided on selling the scones for $1 each. Was that the right price? I pulled out my grandmother’s recipe that he wanted to use, and I priced out the ingredients that would be needed for a batch of 13.
2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of butter, and 1 cup of milk is basically all it was (along with sprinkles of sugar and baking powder).
I priced out the butter and flour and milk, and worked out that it would cost us $1.51 for each batch of 13 scones. Then I showed him that if he sold them all he would make $13, turning a tidy $11.49 profit. The math made sense to him, and he got excited about the business.
I explained to him he’d need start up capital. It would take about $20 to get the initial batch of ingredients. I referenced the people in the podcasts he’d listened to, and talked about the various ways they got their start up capital. Instead of going to a bank, I explained that we could loan him the money, but would expect a return on our investment. Now, instead of making $11.49 profit, he’d only make $8 or $9, because he’d need to pay back the loan, and buy more ingredients.
Then I turned the discussion to labour. How much time would it take to make that many scones (about half an hour) and how much time would it take to sell them all? Do people really want scones from a neighbour baker?
CONDUCT SOME MARKET RESEARCH
So the boys set out to test their business model. Armed with a paper and pen, they walked 6 blocks or so through the neighbourhood talking to people who were in the yard working. They asked if they’d be interested in scones, or a few other recipes they found in our family cookbook.
The results came back and they found people actually wanted banana bread and chocolate chip cookies more than their scone idea.
We really flushed out this home based bakery idea, and learned some valuable lessons about how to budget, how to price, how to assess the market, how much effort it takes to get something started, and more.
Sometimes your first idea isn’t best. So I tossed another idea at them, pulling some wisdom from Gary Vaynerchuk. Now Gary’s podcast is not kid friendly. He’s free with his language and it gets salty. But his message is always on point; hustle, hustle, hustle.
One of his favourite lessons that he hammers home is how easy it is to make extra cash on the weekends hitting garage sales, flea markets, or what have you. Armed with a mobile phone you can look up the true value of something instantly. These driveway sales often offer items at pennies on the dollar that you can turn around and flip on eBay.
You don’t even need to do the garage sale thing, you can get that same re-sale value in your own home. With the boys moving rapidly out of toys and books that are for younger kids, we have bushels of gear lying around that they could sell.
So the plan for the summer? Catalog some stuff, put it up for sale on local Facebook groups or eBay, and make some cash. All the while learning about marketing, pricing, hustle, and entrepreneurship.