December 15, 2009
Come Christmastime, my kids and I have a tradition: I take each of them to dinner, then we shop for presents for Mom and their siblings. They get to pick the restaurant, I pick up the tab. I also spring for Mom's gift, as long as it's within budget. Presents for their siblings, however, are funded solely by them.
Needless to say, our kids start prospecting new ways to earn money around the house in December. My youngest son is willing to do the jobs nobody (especially his mother) wants to do: namely, clean the bathrooms, toilets, showers/baths, etc. He is a very astute negotiator - he knows he's tackling the least desirable jobs, and he expects a premium. Personally, I think it's hilarious to watch him do the ol' hmm and haw with his mom as they haggle over price. I pity the people across the table from him once he starts his career.
My oldest son has taken babysitting classes, been certified in CPR, etc., and finds it easy to make money. Whenever the neighbors need a night out without the kids, they call up Kyle and he makes an easy $20 (on average) playing WII or jumping on the trampoline with the kids until their parents come home. He takes the jobs as they're offered, but doesn't market himself to the neighborhood. Since he's a kid with minimal wants/needs, he usually just makes sure he has enough money to buy presents for his brother and sister and he's happy.
My youngest daughter is a different matter altogether. She refuses to do the 'dirty jobs' around the house, hence the reason my middle child has such a good negotiating position. Instead, my daughter is constantly in the red with Mom, owing chores arond the house to pay back money we lend her to buy presents for her brothers. I was encouraged, then, when last night she came in from the snow and cold with an announcement.
She and two of the neighbor kids have decided to start a snow shoveling business. They were busy putting signs together and even offered a complimentary driveway-clearing for another neighbor to 'get the word out that they do a good job.' A part of me was especially proud that my daughter's internal entrepreneur was finally showing her face.
After she got home, I asked her a little bit about her business. What was the name of their company? H&L Snow Removal. (using the first letter of each family's last name - smart!) What kind of services are you going to offer? Shoveling sidewalks and driveways. How much are you going to charge? Depends on how many of us are working.
HUH? Her last response confused me. What do you mean by that, I asked. Well, we charge $1 per person, so if two of us are working, we charge $2. If three are working, $3. I explained that they would need to charge by the job. Otherwise, I personally would request only one of them for any given job, right? She understood, and her pricing model is now 'per job' and not 'per person'.
I've always tried to encourage my kids to search out ways to earn money, and to do it with a happy heart, 110% effort, and provide an excellent finished product. I hope I've given them a good example to follow. I stress the need to finish what they start, to always respect the customer, and to be fair in all dealings. After all, that's what my customers expect from me.
I hope my daughter gets some business from her little venture. I for one will gladly fork over a few bucks to save this bad back of mine from the torture of clearing the driveway. Once she has some success, it will only propel her desire to continue on. I'll be right there supporting her, not only as a customer, but as her dad.
Make it a great week.
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