The other day, I was tired. I mean tired.
I had my afternoon all plotted out, since I had to pick up my daughter up from the bus stop. So, I dug deep and got as much work-crammed into the morning and early afternoon. I’d pick her up and succumb, catching a sweet nap while she worked on her homework. I asked her about her day and the moment we walked in the house, I was snuggled up on the couch with my two pillows.
You already know, it wasn’t meant to happen as I planned.
I seemingly fell into a deep sleep immediately only to be awakened by a force I really didn’t expect. I looked up groggily and this kid was standing over me like she was about to assassinate me. The look on her face was dead serious! She asked me if she could make some lemonade. “Yeah, yeah…go ahead,” I said, shooing her as expeditiously as I could. I felt like I went right back to sleep, only to be interrupted again. “I want to do a lemonade stand,” she said dryly. “Today.” At this point, I’m mildly annoyed, but my daughter has had entrepreneur bug bites for years. I didn’t want to kill that spirit, so I sleepily told her to make a business plan. “You can’t just do a lemonade stand. Map it out.”
She returned with the fastest business plan in the history of businesses. “Lemme see it,” I mumbled. I didn’t read it, because my eyes wouldn’t open wide enough. But I could tell there weren’t enough words on the paper she wrote to constitute a real plan. I knew it wasn’t right. Before I could doze back to sleep, I was hit with another poke in the ribs. “Here, sample this,” she commanded, with a ginormous spoonful of her homemade, hand-squeezed lemonade.
And that’s when the argument started. Before I delve into the father/daughter disagreement, let me give you some of this:
I’ve owned my own business – AllHipHop.com – for about 15 years. A few other business endeavors failed back in the day, but I got into business almost immediately after graduating college. College taught me how to be a worker, but I had inherent issues with authority, which made it difficult for me accept that fate. Plus, the starting salaries in the field of journalism didn’t match with my ambitions. But I humbled myself and worked hard at a major credit card bank for several years, absorbing all that I could. Also during this time, I educated myself on stuff I didn’t learn a lick about in school: marketing, business, the internet and other unnatural skills. Borders, the long-gone book retailer, was my spot in the late 1990’s! I lived in there and bought as many books as I could.
My daughter was born and reared in the grind years of the mid-2000’s: the worst and best of times. She has seen the highs and the lows, but most of all, she’s seen the hustle. So as a result, she’s part of a new generation of business-minded kids. She’s had an online art studio, almost produced a TV show, had a bracelet business, a bookmark manufacturing factory and other random fledgling business that never quite took flight.
So, here she is with this lemonade stand.
OK, in all honesty, I just wanted to get this quick nap in and I was annoyed. What do I do? I grill her like she was pitching on ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank.” I said, “Nobody in our neighborhood is going to buy from you, because they don’t know you. You need to set up your lemonade stand – in our old ‘hood – this weekend (as opposed to during this time of rest).” She then proceeds to plead her case, stating that five people just walked by and she could have sold to them. Then I looked at how much lemonade she made. Frustrated, I told her, “You have a bowl of lemonade.” She then got a lesson on supply vs. demand. “Even if you had the demand, you don’t even have the supply!” And then she insisted she would just make more. I said, “But those are my lemons.” Countering, she promised, “I’m going to cut you in.” I’m like, “No, I want a piece of the company, because you don’t have any money to by more lemons or other ingredients.”
Then she begins to getting upset. I’m slowing her up, but also, deterring her plan. I personally believe I was making her think. And think, she did.
She debated back that this “market” (our current neighborhood) would yield better results because people walk a lot. “In our old neighborhood all they do is drive by,” which was a great, accurate point. She also wanted to do this business on her own. If she had to post her lemonade stand up at somebody’s house in the old, familiar ‘hood, her friends would inevitably cut into her profits in impromptu partnerships. And, finally – as a health-conscious person – I had to check her when she tried to use crappy ingredients to immediately increase her supply for her non-existent demand. “In this day and age, you have to have some better selling points that your lemonade is sweet. It has to be a decent drink that makes people want to come back or tell a friend,” I implored. Finally, her mental wheels started turning.
She was keenly aware of this. I was slowly waking up to this pre-teens’ budding business savvy. But, she got it honest.
Not only has she witnessed my business side, but she’s also had to listen to me drill principles of business into her head for the longest. “Shark Tank” marathons are the best quality TV time we take in as we analyze why each businesses will make it or fail and why. She manages her own money, something both her mother and I stress. And to be frank, I’ve been completely honest with her as to the rigors of business – particularly during the Great Recession. But, I let her know that my business was able to grant me certain freedoms – like going to every single school event/track meet/ parent/teacher conference. So, while it ain’t easy, it’s worth it. And, it represents the next level for African Americans. So this summer, she’s going to certain camps that teach her how to build.
Entrepreneurship means freedom and growth…and money.
She has yet to create her lemonade stand, but she’s on the right track. Her business plan was was underdeveloped, but the kid’s got the right idea. The last line of the plan simply said, “Make cash!”
We’ll work out the kinks shortly and that nap can wait!