Friday, October 16, 2009

My Little Entrepreneur

A few weeks ago, Ian and I were wandering around Ocean State Job Lot. My go-to place on very desperate, long rainy days when we just need to go somewhere to be out of the house.  At the check-out, Ian noticed a set of colorful pinking shears. He desperately wanted the "special scissors."   I explained that I didn't have money for them in an effort to ward off an all out meltdown.  He choked back tears and listened, so I kept talking. I told him he could have the scissors if he could figure out how to get some money to buy them. By the time we go to the car, he told me he wanted to sell ice tea at our upcoming yard sale in 2 weeks.  We discussed the business plan and after considering all the possible beverage possibilities, he decided on apple cider.

We talked about his first business frequently. He inquired as to when we were getting the cider and when the yard sale would be. He told everyone he was going to sell apple cider so he could buy  "special" scissors.  As the time drew closer, we counted the coins in his short-term (truck) savings bank. He had just under $3.00.  The scissors cost $4.00.  We spent time talking about coins and counting coins.  I considered going full-force with a real business model in which he was going to have to cover his own overhead, but as the time of the yard sale grew closer I realized I didn't have the time or energy to get into all that. I rationalized that the lesson would be over his head anyway to partly relieve my guilt on this shortcut. In retrospect I wish I had done it all the way, so as to not set a precedent. 

A few days before he worked on his letters as he colored and wrote out his own display.   The day before the sale we bought the cider and cups. I was happy to contribute the initial capital to a young start-up. We gathered his table, chair, and other necessities for his cider stand.  He repeatedly reminded me that he was in charge of the cider.  I was mighty impressed with his desire to own this operation.

The morning of the yard sale came. He set up his table. I plugged in the crock pot and poured the cider in and that pretty much concluded my contribution to his business. And then, 
Ian. Sold. Cider.  
He didn't sit passively, looking cute and hoping for someone to ask. He has his Dad's marketing skill. Asking nearly every yard sale patron if they wanted some cider, most couldn't resist.  Slowly and carefully, Ian served his cider. Everyone got "three dumps" from the ladle.  It was a bargain at $.25/cup.  In retrospect, I really did him a disservice at that price point because 2 days later I spent $3.00 for an identical cup of cider at Mystic Seaport. 

The next day we excitedly counted out his earnings. He earned about $5.00. With his short term savings, he had about $8.00 in total.  He asked if we could go to get his scissors on the way to Grammy's house. And this is when he melted my heart.  My thoughtful, sweet, generous son told me he wanted to get a pair of scissors for his cousin Natalie too. When I asked him why, he said because he thought she would like them. Swallowing over the lump in my throat, I quickly gave him his $1.00 allowance to bring him to $9.00.  I gave him a basic explanation of what sales tax is and he understood that he would need just over $8.00 to buy 2 pairs of special scissors. We agreed that the remaining coins would go into his long-term (dinosaur) savings bank. 
At the store, he navigated right over to the check out counter waited patiently for his turn at the counter.  Just over 2 weeks since the birth of his desire for the scissors, he bought them with the money he earned himself for that very purpose.  He was so proud!  I really admire his patience and commitment to running his cider business to get what he wanted, but I am most proud of his generous spirit. 

This was a great educational experience to guide him on. I can't wait to see this business model develop in complexity and depth as he matures and we get deeper in our home study.  So many lessons are included and with this project; art, business, math, marketing, research, writing, spelling, accounting and more.  It embodied many of the reasons I am attracted to homeschooling. Real-life, well-rounded, interactive learning using multiple skills. And it was fun too.  He is already planning his next beverage stand with lemonade and ice tea.


Jessica said...

absolutely adorable and a great lesson!

Keila Carvalho said...

that was such a great story!