Friday, March 14, 2014

A Family of Entrepreneurs

When I was working on my degree at BYU, I was intrigued by entrepreneurship.  The business bug actually bit me in first grade when I started my first business selling rocks.  After collecting a dozen choice rocks as big as I could carry, I washed them, loaded them in my wagon, and went door to door selling them for a nickel each.  I think I made ten cents.  My marketing savvy kicked in with my next venture when I created business cards for my ghost protection services.  I drew pictures on index cards and promised to keep gouls away from the bedroom I shared with my sisters.  (As children of the 80s, Ghostbusters and Unsolved Mysteries, not to mention living in an old house, frightened our imaginations.)  I made $2--I think my parents made me give that money back.  As I got older, the businesses became more viable until my sister and I were making good money selling snacks at weekend soccer games.

When I entered college, I knew I wanted to study Business Management and Finance.  But the entrepreneurship bug lingered, so I took a couple of classes in that area.  One of my favorite courses was a class of about 20 students, which was co-taught by Larry H. Miller, one of Utah's most successful entrepreneurs.  It was great to learn from him and his experiences.  However, that class also turned my focus back toward corporate management.  The big project for the term was a 20-page self-evaluation about passions, dreams, goals, and personality.  The assessment worksheets provided by the professor helped me realize that I was a very risk-averse person, and starting businesses would therefore bring me more worry and stress than it was worth.

Instead of setting out to be a serial entrepreneur, I ended up marrying one.  At the time, I thought I was marrying a future college professor; but about two-and-half years later, as Kent was finishing his bachelor degree, he realized he was burnt out on school and wanted to do something else.  We've bounced around ever since.  Kent worked a handful of jobs and gradually found that he really enjoys being self-employed and building businesses.  In fact, his most recent project is as a consultant for other business owners.  He usually has two or three projects that he's working on at any given time, and we each have twice that many projects brewing in our heads.  This lifestyle used to stress me out, but I learned about 12 years ago that if we are generous in our giving with tithes and fast offerings, the Lord watches over us.  Even when finances are really tight, we still have everything we need.   As our children get older, Kent and I have more time to work together on professional projects.  My fearful, risk-averse self has taken a back seat, and I am enjoying this entrepreneurial ride.

It's a good thing, too, because we are becoming a household of entrepreneurs.  (Thanks to The Daily Herald for writing the next section of this post, which is an article in today's paper.  Click on the link for the full article because I've removed portions.  Lest you think I infringe on copyrights, these are my own photos that I took at last night's event.)

PROVO - Ten teams of young people, ages 12-18, made pitches for new businesses to a panel of investors Thursday. The event was the Investor Panel portion of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy.
You want to rent a modest prom dress? Check. Are you at a soccer game and are cold and hungry and would like some hot soup? Check. Need to locate the mustard powder at your local grocery store? Check.
These young business people have you covered for those needs and others.
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy is a national organization and this is the first year there has been one in Utah County. It is sponsored by the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce. The students are in week 19 of a 30-week program.
Students applied for positions in the academy and have been attending three hours of classes on Thursdays after school since fall. There are various teachers who present information about starting businesses, and there are also mentors who help them put their business plans in order. More than 100 people volunteered in the effort.
The students, by themselves or with a team, presented their business ideas to a panel of investors, who were charged with distributing $6,000 to one or more of the potential companies... Each of the proposed companies received a portion of the funding.
One company which has already started its work is Bibbity Bobbity Dresses [sp], that has had formal dresses donated to them, which they rent to others who don't want the expense of purchasing a dress they will perhaps only wear once. Sisters Kassidy White, 15, and Madelyn White, 13, run the business, and they were looking to expand.
The investors awarded them $600 for that effort.
Kent White, their father, said it has been a good experience for the family.
"I am a business owner," he said. "What this has done has helped my children's education considerably. They came up with it. It has created a tremendous difference, allowing us to talk about business together. It is a tremendous program. I think it will change my [family's] trajectory forever."
The oldest two aren't our only entrepreneurial spawn.  #3, who also enjoys science, started research last summer to figure out how to build a bicycle that stores the energy from pedaling.  She is also considering what she could do through Young Entrepreneurs Academy.  I am hopeful she'll develop a business around a product I created six years ago that I have never brought to market because of patent costs.  It's a simple product, and with the right mentors and investors, I think she could be quite successful with it.
#4 spent her birthday money on a loom and supplies to make loop bracelets, like this:
So far she has one loyal customer who has bought $31 worth of dollar bracelets.  #4 is looking to expand her customer base.  Feel free to contact her for bracelets to give as party favors or small prizes.  She loves to work on custom designs.

Then there's #5 who takes after his dad as a miniature salesman.  He's been going door-to-door this month looking for sponsors for his school walk-a-thon.  Be careful if you sponsor him, because he's planning to put his running talent to use to rack up more laps than any other kid at school.  Next month, when his fingernails are a little longer, we expect he'll be going door-to-door selling his back-scratching service.

1 comment:

VickieG said...

How fun to hears all these clever ideas. Makes me "well-pleased" to be their grandma. All of them are using their creative energy to accomplish dreams. Very nice.