- January 14, 2012
- 1 comment
My 11 year-old daughter came home from school the other day upset because she was told that she could no longer sell her homemade barrettes at school. She’d been making them at home for quite a while with her younger sister just as a hobby. Soon her friends began requesting them. At first she made them for free but then the number of requests became overwhelming. So she started charging to make them and the rest is history. First she figured out her cost (our cost) – Fabric and metal clip- $1, labor – $1 (her choice), so two dollars total per barrette. She gave people a choice of fabric colors, making them personal, and enjoyed making them. When the holidays arrived teachers ordered some for gifts. She was busy but happy and enjoyed getting some pocket change at the same time. Not a bad deal all around, I thought.
She didn’t consider it much of a business and so tried to find an angle that would work
Until one day when the principal of the school came up to her during recess and told her that she could no longer conduct business at school. She didn’t consider it much of a business and so tried to find an angle that would work. But the principal made it clear that she could no longer sell her barrettes at school. She agreed and came to me for advice.
I stepped back a bit and tried to think of how to approach this tactfully because inside I was annoyed. My first thought was this -for all of the pizza, flowers, raffles, and other events they pimp the children out in school how could they actually say that they don’t condone the children selling things?! They have the 6-8th graders running a full canteen so they can raise funds. But then I realized that it was not personal and it was not directed at my daughter. They want the children to focus on school work. And having a rule that extends to all children is the easiest way to go, and less potential trouble than allowing only top students to sell. Imagine that bag of worms! So, I took a deep breath and sat with my daughter to explain. I told her that I was proud of her for being ambitious in running a business and wanting to make extra money on her own. I explained that they have rules in school about conducting business there just as they have regulations of where people can sell goods. You can’t just open up a table on the sidewalk and start selling (yes, it’s illegal though we see it all the time). She agreed that she would respect the school rules but would take and fulfill orders outside of school grounds.
I told her that I was proud of her for being ambitious in running a business and wanting to make extra money on her own
Her teachers and I know that she could easily handle selling barrettes without sacrificing her school performance. I wanted to be sure that she respected the rules of her environment. So we used this as a learning experience – one where I encouraged her ambition and motivation yet allowed her to find a pathway that would not break rules. The truth is that I love her ambition and want to foster that. Learning to sell something involves many skills – creativity, interpersonal, math and real-world business skills. I can’t encourage those enough. So, if you are fortunate enough to have ambitious children who want to operate a lemonade stand, sell goods or simply want to work so they can make a little extra money, do what you can to encourage them. As long as they are ‘taking care of business at school,’ the experience is invaluable in building a good work ethic and will lead them onto the road to success. Just don’t let them turn your home into a warehouse, unless they cut you in, of course!