The 8 year old entrepreneur
Recently my nephew was asking ‘how do I make more money Aunty Joey?’ I love it when children ask these kinds of questions, it shows how much they are thinking about their future and how much they want to take control of it. In today’s society I don’t believe there is a time that is too young to be having these kind of conversations, especially if a child instigates it. The conversation was initiated with me because my nephew is fully aware about my prowess with Facebook marketplace, so like the clever boy that he is, he went straight to the source and asked questions. I love that spirit. Needless to say it was a great teaching and learning moment between us and an opportunity to impart so much more than just money beliefs to a child that will live in a society with epic potential to make millions and get into millions of dollars worth of debt easily. Here is a snapshot of our story.
My immediate response to Mr Nephew was, ‘Are you doing the chores your Mum and Dad allow you to earn money from?’
My sister has done a brilliant job with her children from a young age so I knew full and well that the kids all knew what their chores are and that they could earn money if they wanted to. I also knew that sometimes it was a chore to get them to do them without being asked, not unlike any parent. So I immediately said to my nephew, ‘The quickest, smartest way to earn money fast is to complete the chores for Mum and Dad without reminders every day.’
I knew if he did this it would cost my sister a bit but it would also remove some stress which I assume (perhaps I shouldn’t) most parents would be happy to pay for in exchange of silencing the 5 requests to make your bed. In any case it was important for me given that I am not the parent to ensure that Mr Nephew was reminded about all the ways his parents already do a great job helping him to be financially abundant, even at 8 years old. I didn’t want to undermine their efforts in any regard. Still I knew that Mr Nephew wanted to know about making money beyond chores.
The conversation started on his end when Mr Nephew asked about whether it was a good idea to have a lemonade stand on the street. I loved this question. Mr Nephew knows I own a business and the questions he asked were all about costs; essentially whether there would be a market for a lemonade stand in Caloundra (Sunshine Coast Australia) and whether the running costs and the profit margins would make the stand a viable business offer, just not quite spoken like that. To be honest I don’t even know where all these questions came from, I don’t live nearby to my nephew but I do know he is a very deep thinker and it doesn’t take him long to understand and create new information that he uses to draw his own conclusions, something that I love about him. Not long after these discussions he came to the conclusion that perhaps a different business venture (from a lemonade stand) would be best for making money the kind of money that would allow him to get something really cool like an expensive toy or a CD player.
Soon after he was saying, ‘Aunty Joey, I know you have sold quite a lot on Facebook, how do you do it?’
Now perhaps someone would say ‘Don’t teach a child this’ but I don’t believe in this. Why not empower a child to thrive in the very era he is growing up in? There are several 18 year olds who are making millions globally because they harnessed the ability to use the technology they grew up with. Personally I think we aren’t afraid of a child’s success by preventing them from doing it but rather afraid that they will out earn us and that isn’t a good enough reason to disempower a child. Needless to say this conversation began a discussion about how I have sold jewellery, furniture, clothing, DVDs you name it on Facebook Marketplace as a means of decluttering a shed full of things I stored while I lived out of a 4x4m bedroom in London for 2.5years. Mr Nephew and I discussed the importance of price, quality, service and ‘sticking to your guns’ over about 30 minutes.
I explained to him about setting the lowest possible price for the item you sell in your mind before you post it online so that you sell the item for a price that makes you happy and a customer happy otherwise you are simply giving someone else a great bargain but not feeling good about it in the process because you sell yourself short which makes no sense at all. To solidify this lesson we practiced 3 mock bartering sessions where I attempted to undercut his Yu Gi Oh cards from his ‘listed’ price of $30 to $15. By the third time he was confidently saying to me, ‘Sorry but I won’t be accepting your price, $25 is my lowest price you can take it or leave it.’ It was a mock bartering session but I was so proud of him. The skill he had just practiced was something that adults struggle with a lot- saying no.
After we discussed bartering we decided to peruse the internet to research what the real price could be for reselling his Yu Gi Oh cards. He was sure he could get $30 for the cards, I wasn’t confident but there was no point me telling him, he would learn by us walking through the journey together. We found a reputable reseller online who listed all the Yu Gi Oh cards that gave generic prices as well as specifics about specialised cards that were appreciating and depreciating in value. Mr Nephew soon learnt that his $30 cards were worth 5 cents. His face dropped. Suddenly he felt like giving up. But I knew that if I continued the conversation there was potential for him to learn about the specialised cards and maybe even find a couple that were worth something. About 15 minutes later and searching through the appreciating list we found 1 card that happened to be one of the highest prices cards in the Yu Gi Oh deck, now priced at $60. Mr Nephew’s face lit up. ‘You mean I can sell this! WOW its worth so much money! We bought this in a pack that was worth $60 for the entire pack! Ohhh wow!’
‘Well yes you can sell it, but now you have to decide…do you want to? This is always a choice you need to decide when you find something of good value, you can keep it and see if its value increases or you can sell it for something right now. As you can see waiting (even if you weren’t meaning to) meant your card is now worth $60.’ He asked me what choice he should make, I told him to make one that he wants to make, this lead to about another 10 minutes of pondering. He later decided that he wanted to try and sell it and he felt confident and happy in his decision and I felt great because he learnt how to keep boundaries, respect himself & make decisions for himself.
I wanted to share this anecdote because society is so focussed on getting things in an instant at the moment- take a look at Afterpay. We don’t even have to have the money right now to get what we want. It means lessons about waiting for things, building patience, learning about whether we really want something or we just feel like we do, is lost in fast paced time. Whether the decision is correct or incorrect for the child they need to make it to learn but at the very least they need to also be exposed to learning how to wait and what benefits can come from it. After all patience is a virtue & in the financial world is also often a saviour.