Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Budding Entrepreneur

It should come as no surprise to me that I identify with the life of an entrepreneur. Although I sometimes question my entrepreneurial experience, my entrepreneurial spirit has been budding long before I would have chosen those words to describe it.

In The Big Leap (HIGHLY recommended!), Gay Hendricks shared his earliest entrepreneurial endeavors that started during his childhood. Although most of them were unsuccessful in producing a profit, his earliest "business" as a Problems Doctor was a telltale sign of his current profession as a personal growth expert, in which he is, in essence, a problems doctor.

As he shared his childhood stories, it triggered my memories of some of my early entrepreneurial efforts. I remember designing and printing signs for the typing business I started with my cousins and gathering supplies for the car wash my other cousins and I started on our corner. But the venture I am most proud of is my nail polish business I started in 6th grade.

On her dresser, my aunt displayed a huge variety of nail polish that I loved playing with. Between her collection and my mom's funky colors, I started to think that nail polish was the coolest thing. I remember taking my mom's electric blue polish into school to show off to my friends, and one of them asked me to borrow it. I knew that I couldn't let her take it home because my mother would kill me if she found out I did that without asking. So I let her use it during school. Somehow, from that, I decided that I could charge my friends 25 cents to use "my" nail polish. That night, I made a chart on a fresh piece of loose leaf. I painted a small swatch of each of the funnest colors and wrote the name of each underneath. The next day my business was born. My friends loved the idea of having access to nail polish colors that their parents didn't allow. The electric blue (which was the boldest) was most popular. Unfortunately, my business was shut down within a week. One day the principal walked into our classroom, smelled the nail polish and found my friend painting her nails behind her textbook.

My mother and aunt got a good laugh from the whole thing, but I do remember my mother commending my effort. She even commented that I was smart for using "someone else's inventory." Of course I didn't understand what that meant at the time, but I now know the value in minimizing overhead costs. Hendricks talks about the feeling of satisfaction from the first cent of profit. Although my business was short lived, I think I made enough to buy an afterschool snack, and that was enough of a victory for me.

Obviously there are many flaws that a wiser me can find in my nail polish business, but there are so many things that I also admire about the younger me. Having that inventiveness to introduce something new to my friends was a great business opportunity. I remember the dedication I had to the presentation of my loose leaf brochure. What I admire most is the guts I had to actually do it. I also remember convincing my friends that they needed it. The more I think about it, I can recall several instances where I've been a convincing saleswoman.

My mom always says that if you simply watch a child, they will show you what they want to be when they grow up. I don't plan to go into the nail salon business, but from that experience to starting a best friend's club, I can see the hints of my desire to bring women together. Maybe it's my way of compensating for being an only child. Even though I'm still exploring the reasons behind it, I now know that all of these experiences have been stepping stones to what is now Her Journey and for what is to come.

What are your earliest memories that point to who are you are now or who you "want to be when you grow up"?

Image was found in this ins article about the min blowing stories of successful child entrepreneurs.

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