Teaching kids about money is an important component of education. We have created many activities to teach our children about budgeting and saving money. How about lessons on earning money? While earning an allowance by doing chores in the house may count, it is different from making money in real life. As my daughter puts it, the money earned from parents is still family money; money earned from others (such as strangers) is the real earning.
OK, now we are taking earning money to a higher level. A great opportunity came when we had the first big snow in Winter. Andy and Ally told us they were interested in shoveling snow in the neighborhood to earn money. We liked the idea and helped them to implement it (including supervising them and helping them with snow shoveling).
Their entrepreneurial endeavor turned out to be quite successful. They provided snow removal services for four houses and earned a total of $155.
At the end of the day, I asked what they had learned from their snow shoveling business. Here are three lessons they learned:
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If you want others to know your business, it is important to get words out. To promote their business, I sent out an email to the list server for our community homeowner association in the early morning to let people know about it. There are 650 members registered in the list server, and I hope there will be someone in need of snow removal.
The first call came in from an old lady who asked us to remove from her front porch and driveway. She was willing to pay $40. The kids got so excited and went out to her house to remove snow. While they were there, two more calls came in. One asked us to clean pathway from street to his front door for $20, and the other one asked us to clean half of driveway and sidewalk for $40. Three businesses for 2 hours snow removal and they received $100. Not bad.
During their work, they saw other teenagers especially high school students knock on doors to ask whether people needed help with snow removal. There were some competitions in the snow removal business, and my kids were happy they get customers by marketing early through email.
A lesson learned: Timely and properly marketing strategies are important to promote your business and win customers.
2. Negotiating price
It was their first business and they didn’t know what the rate should be. They also didn’t have much experience in negotiating the rate. I did the negotiation for the first three houses. My children have no idea how much we should charge. Ally wanted $8 for the first customer and my son said $10-$20 to the third customer. It was the owners who said the rates were too low and they increased the rate.
After finishing three houses, my children realized the relationship between how much work you have done and how much you should be paid. They concluded the price should be $20 for the path from the street to the front door, $20 for the driveway, and $20 for the sidewalk.
With this price tag in mind, they went to the fourth house which is my next-door neighbor to offer their business. This neighbor is a businessman and asked my kids how much they would charge. My kids asked how much he was willing to pay. So the neighbor offered $25 for driveway and front porch. My son counter-offered $30. A deal was made. My neighbor gave them $35 for the job well done.
A lesson learned: You need to know the range of acceptable market rates and start with a price at the higher end while being prepared to lower the price during the negotiation. Always know your bottom line price.
3. Seeking opportunities to expand the business
We probably won’t have any snow days until next winter, but Andy and Ally have been planning to expand their business.
Some brainstormed ideas are marketing their service earlier, even before the snow starts; involving some friends to be part of the team; investing in a snow plow to save labor and time.
Meanwhile, they summarized the issues they encountered in this years’ experience and discussed how to reduce problems and increase efficiency and customer satisfaction.
A lesson learned: Learn from your mistakes; plan well to improve your business.
Related articles on teaching kids about money:
- Four Ways to Teach Children about Budgeting
- Building a Family Foundation: A Fun Way to Teach Kids about Money
- Three Things I’ve learned from My Kids about Money
A snow day became a money-making day and a learn-about-money day. My children were exhausted from their long day work, so were my husband and me (you think they shoveled alone?!). However, we were all glad about the results. I am particularly excited about using a real life experience for teaching kids about money. Andy and Ally are looking forward to re-opening their business when winter comes.