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Tag Archives: kids

The modern-day lemonade stand

Kids these days. Who needs an MBA anymore when you can just open your own business in the garage?

My 10-year old son has taken the concept of a neighborhood lemonade stand to another level. Only this time he’s not donating proceeds to charity. He’s in business for himself.

Along with several other committed kids in the neighborhood, he’s created a bike repair service called Opie’s Bike Repair in our garage. As the “general manager,” he pays the other kids a “salary,” which we’ll get to a little later.

Most of the time they spend sitting in the garage, waiting for the phone to ring or a random customer to happen by. They’ve made a bit of money doing various bike jobs for friends and family, and they’ve reinvested it in the company, after paying out expenses.

Understanding the need for additional customers, they’ve started marketing with a website, created special offers, and plastered flyers all over the neighborhood. Recognizing there is a limited potential market for bike repair services in our neighborhood, they’ve recently added car washing to the menu of Opie’s services.

And they’re already getting a taste of labor disputes with the employees (a.k.a friends) demanding to be equal partners in the enterprise instead of specialists hired to do a job. As a result, my son sent a memo to the staff requesting feedback on how to make work more fun, via anonymous notes dropped in a mailbox. Employee engagement 101!

As a parent, it’s a fine line between encouraging enterprising behavior and being the voice of reality. For example, when they wanted to add a new phone number for the business, I told them that would cost around $30/month, which they didn’t realize. Of course, that’s not in their budget and so the news was hard to take. On the other hand, they’re learning nothing in life is free and you have to work hard to make something succeed. It’s difficult not to just tell them how to do things, because I want them to have some success. After all, isn’t this how Bill Gates and Mark Cuban and Steve Jobs got started? I’m just hoping the friendship dynamics on the street don’t get permanently bent out of shape while they figure it out.

What’s amazing to me through all this is that the lessons my 10-year-old is learning are on some levels the same ones any small business owner learns. And I hope that the experience he’s gaining today will help him succeed in the future. By the time these kids get to college, business degree curriculum is going to need a major update.

But, until then, the next time you have bicycle in need of repair or a car that needs washing, remember Opie’s, just down the street.

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Posted by on August 20, 2012 in Business, Family, Thoughts

 

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Mini-random journeys

Happy observations, profound thoughts, minor annoyances, pleasant surprises…

  1. How much sugar do I want in my coffee, you ask? Just keep pouring until it starts to feel a little creepy.
  2. If you see me standing here why do you need to step on my foot?
  3. There’s nothing like the sound of katydids humming and gravel crackling under two wheels.
  4. Unless it’s on Disney or Sprout, there’s no point asking me if i saw that hilarious TV show, the trailer for the epic movie sequel,
    or that great game the other day.
  5. How do CFL bulb manufacturers get away with saying their bulbs last 7 years? I’ve never had one last 7 weeks.

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Posted by on July 8, 2012 in Random, Thoughts

 

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Retirement beats college savings

(Originally posted on USAA’s Inside the Mission blog)

Never did I realize the double-whammy of parenthood more so than when my wife and I had twin babies. I’m not talking about the middle-of-the-night feedings or the boxes of diapers that we go through at a lightning pace (I knew I should have bought stock in Pampers!). The real question for us is how to make it work financially. Specifically, given a choice between saving for our retirement or college funds for the kids, which one wins?

As a parent, you want to do everything you can for your kids. My parents showed me the importance of making things better for their children than they were for themselves, through their hard work. College costs are skyrocketing, but we certainly don’t want to deprive our kids of getting the best education possible. Yet we know we’ll have to stop working at some point, and will need a significant amount in savings in order to enjoy even a modest retirement. So how do parents these days balance these two seemingly competing interests?

As Scott Halliwell shows in this video, saving for retirement is more important for most people for three big reasons. Check out the video:

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2011 in Family, Work

 

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