Tag Archives: Dream

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In Business with Your Kids

Lots of aspiring entrepreneurs come in pint size packages. Children have ideas about building a better mousetrap, and as adults, we have a tendency to pat them on the head and remark about the cleverness of their idea. What would happen if you explored that idea with your child?

Here’s what one family of four did as a summer project. Their 9 year old daughter had made a portable herb garden out of recycled materials for her end-of-year 4th grade Science project. Her Mom saw a good deal of potential in the project. She knew that kids are great at cut and paste, so with a little extra training, they could be taught to assemble. They began by recycling 16 ounce green tinted plastic soda bottles. They then purchased a $25 bottle cutting tool from a large online retailer.

Next, they invested in old barn boards that they purchased for a song from a local online yard sale. They purchased herb seeds and potting soil and took a box of Dixie cups and began their herb plantings. Dad did the cutting of the plastic bottles as well as cutting the barn wood in appropriate size pieces. The two youngsters were in charge of the planting, marking, and care of the herbs in the Dixie cups. Mom then sanded the backs of the boards, added a hanger, and attached the cut bottles in a decorative fashion onto the boards. When the plants were at a healthy size, Mom and the kids replanted them into the bottles on the boards. They went to their local Farmer’s Market on Saturday and sold out that day. They were now in the portable herb garden business. Customers went crazy for the idea of hanging this rustic barn wood on their back porch, and having an herb garden all ready to go.

Mom kept track of the time invested, as well as the material costs. The four of them had 68 hours into the project, including their day at the Farmers Market. Their material costs were $89, including the cutting tool. That day they sold the 50 portable herb planters that they brought to Market, at an average price of $18 each or a gross profit of $900. With a net profit of $811, it was as if each of them made $12 an hour for their efforts. Now imagine how the ideas started flowing as they headed home that evening. How could they expand this concept? They say the children had the best ideas, and were so invested in the project it was hard to get them to focus on their schoolwork again, come fall.

When considering what business you want to develop, don’t just consider how much time it will take away from your family, but more importantly consider how you can engage the family in the process. The learning experience will only be exceeded by the strengthening of family ties as you take on the new challenges together. Your children will also begin to develop the skills to be the leaders of tomorrow.

Our Chamber is proud to annually host the “Youth Leadership Union”, whose mission is to develop the knowledge and leadership skills of young people in our County so they may confidently become our leaders of tomorrow.  For more information about this program, visit our website.

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Creating Fiction and Converting it to Reality

You’ve just finished reading a book of fiction that you were so engrossed in; you just couldn’t put it down. You later wonder how the author created all the characters, the twists and turns, identified the emotions with such depth, she made you weep and laugh, fight for the underdog and kept you guessing as to the ending with every single page.

Writers dream their stories, usually while they are writing them. Rarely do they know where the story will take them. What they do have is a theme. And then they begin to develop characters, sometimes over years of note taking, or maybe just on their way to taking and picking up their kids from school. Waiting in the car line, they can’t stop thinking about these characters; very much like you’ve been imagining the start of your business.

So, let’s take your business that you’ve been envisaging, and let’s write its story. It will be fiction, but based on how you imagine it. Your characters will be you, your family (because they will be impacted every day), your imaginary staff and or collaborators. There will be the people who help fund you (try not to look as the banker as the villain), possibly a landlord, as well.  There will be sales people coming out of the woodwork, so write about the ones you want to deal with. Now, don’t forget to create the kind of customers you want to do business with, who you believe will want to purchase your product or hire your service.

You should have several pages of a legal pad or your word processor filled already with characters. Now try telling the story of how you begin, playing close attention to the details. If you haven’t designed a business plan for your dream, google “businesses plans” and use the outline for your trade type as a guideline to creating your story. What’s most important is that you continually use your dream, your business as you want it to be, as the basis for your story.

Take it through the startup, the first real triumphs, and the disappointments, as well.  As an example, if you start a seasonal business where you and your team go into customers’ homes and take their boxes of Christmas decorations and set it all up, everything from outside lights to the ornaments on the tree, you may find yourself writing about how well received this service is, keeping you and your staff so busy that you realize that there won’t be time for you to set up your own Christmas tree, buy one gift or bake a batch of gingerbread cookies with your family. In business, there are always trade-offs.

You can take the story as far as you would like, but you probably will find yourself cutting from the fiction and heading to reality. You’ll start to fine tune the dream, laying concrete business plans, opening new avenues of possibilities to a line of services that can help your customer base many more times a year than just Christmas. You’ll begin to investigate the options you have for funding, you’ll research the answers to the questions that will arise as you go through this exercise, like the time you googled “pitfalls to a commercial lease”.

The likelihood is that your story will never be published as just that. Yet it very well could be the one important exercise that leads you into converting your dream business into reality. And don’t forget that here at the Chamber of Commerce, we’re a cast of characters just waiting to be an integral part of your success story.

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