Parenting Fail or Creating a Future Entrepreneur?
I’m gonna start this post with a confession. I love buying toys! I especially love buying board games, costumes and anything that leads to dramatic play. So, when we are at Target and L asks me to buy him something, I find it really hard to say no because we have similar taste in toys, and I also want the toy he’s lusting after. But I know better, these are important parenting lesson where I have the opportunity to shape his spending practices which he will likely carry into adulthood.
Last year when L asked for a new toy, I decided that it was a great time to teach him about the value of money. I told him that if he wanted to get a new toy, that he would have to earn his own money, and since we don’t pay for chores, he needed to come up with a business idea. I was hoping to teach him the value of time as well as money and also the idea of delayed gratification. His first thought was to set up a lemonade stand and he quickly came up with a business plan.
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A New Business is Born
The very next day, the children down the street opened a lemonade stand. This threw a wrench in his plan, but it didn’t stop him. He decided instead of selling lemonade, he would sell dog biscuits. L made another “bisness plan” and we were on our way to baking biscuits. I didn’t know it yet, but his business turned out to be a lot more lucrative than either of us expected. That was the beginning of a parenting lesson gone wrong.
Time to Market the Business
The biscuits were ready to go. L made an infomercial and asked me to post it on my personal FaceBook page. While the online orders from friends flowed in, we packed up the biscuits and set up shop in our driveway. He hired a marketing and sales team (our little neighbors) and even paid them! Originally he wanted to pay them only 25 cents each, but after some discussions about fair wages, he offered them each 15% of his net gains. The three of them did a fabulous job waving people down and selling their product.
He had a successful launch! By the end of the first day, he had $22 worth of online sales and $14 at his storefront for a total of $36. He still had enough ingredients for 4 more batches so his business continued to boom. When it was all said and done, L earned close to $400 (half of which he donated to The Humane Society)!
A Parenting Lesson Gone Wrong!
And that’s when the trouble began. I had expected that L would make a little money from a lot of hard work. That he would realize that spending money on frivolous toys comes with hard work. That’s not what happened. What really happened was that making the biscuits was lots of fun. Hanging out at the dog park selling biscuits with his friends was even more fun. And the result of all that fun? He made more money than he needed. He made so much money that he could buy as many toys as he wanted.
Instead of the lesson that I was trying to teach him, he learned that when he wanted something he could easily get what he wants. Now, whenever he wants something he suggests another business. He looks back on his biscuit baking business as an example of how he can easily succeed, how easy it is to make plenty of money so he can buy whatever he wants. I look back on his biscuit baking business as a parenting mistake.
These days he has his eyes set on a very expensive DJ mixing board. At my husband’s suggestion, L is now collecting recyclables. His last collection (2 months worth of recyclables) yielded him only $4.40. It’s going to take a long time for him to earn enough money to buy what he wants, but I do believe he will finally learn the lesson I meant to teach him last year.