Readers! I don’t even know many ADULTS this entrepreneurial! Enjoy this story sent in by Misty Olen, who posted it on her blog, Free Your Kids.
Dear Free-Range Kids: Three years ago I started reading this blog. At that point, I was like many parents. I was afraid to let my kids play outside or do anything without me keeping a close eye on them. After a week of reading Free-Range Kids I decided I was going to start raising my kids to be Free-Range.
It was a hard transition and a million thoughts went through my head: “I’m going to let them walk down the road? That’s crazy, what if a car hits them? What if they get kidnapped? What if they fall down and get hurt and I don’t hear them cry?” There were so many thoughts and scary ideas that I had to work through, but I kept in mind that I was raising my kids to be confident and to be able to handle themselves in the world. They needed to explore and learn what life is like, and the best way to do that is by experiencing it.
Soon after, I decided to raise my kids this way I started looking at other things in life I wanted to teach them, like how to earn money. When my youngest, Colton, turned eight years old, I decided I was going to stop giving him and my daughter their $3 per week allowance. I was going to help them learn how to be entrepreneurs. I told them I would not give them money and that their job was to look for ways to make money, ways that didn’t involve doing things for me.
In the first month my son started recycling. He walked around and picked up cans on his way to school and then walked them to the recycling facility next to our house. He could easily make $10 per week (over 3 times his previous allowance). He was off to a great start!
One year later, Colton decided to change his focus to golf balls. We lived next to two golf courses so he and his friend Zach got the idea to gather the balls and sell them. They collected a 5-gallon bucket full of golf balls. Zach never wanted to do the work of selling, only collecting. Colton decided one day he was going to the golf course to actually sell the balls.
He took off and told me he would be back in a couple hours. Hours later he returned with a wad of cash. He was full of excitement and told me about learning which golf balls were the most valuable and how much people would pay. He figured out that standing by Hole 8 on the course was the best place to sell because people stopped there to get a drink of water, and he could also wash the golf balls there while waiting for his next customer.
Colton soon recruited friends to help him sell and he let them keep 50% of money they earned and he kept the other 50 percent. Yes, he had employees. At dinnertime he would tell us about discounts he had come up with to convince customers to purchase more, and discuss his different selling tactics. One of his marketing strategies was giving away some of his cheap golf balls to some of his bigger customers to encourage repeat business.
Altogether he made about $250 in those two weeks. He was really excited to have that much money, and decided he wanted a new bike. We took him to the store and he bought a bike with the money earned from golf balls. I had the pleasure of seeing his sense of accomplishment and witnessing how proud he was of himself. I feel like I’m doing my job as a parent. I’m teaching my kids to be confident and providing them with the tools to be happy and successful in life. — Misty Olen