I learned from an early age that I wasn't normal… but I believed there were others out there like me.
I created my first business at a ripe old age of 5. My plan was to dominate the world with my Lemonade empire!
In creating my first business I learned very quickly there exists two types of people in the world — those that like to create their own jobs; and those that choose to work other people's jobs. Both are great, but come from two very different ways of thinking.
Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common sense
From a very early age, I watched my parents work hard. Work really, really hard. But they didn't work for other people – they worked for themselves. They were self-employed, business owners — or as I call them, business creators.
My parents taught me much through their daily habits and interactions, and they show up in my day to day, everyday – most obviously shining through my personal work ethic.
I'd have thought that Thomas Edison knew my parents when he wrote the following:
The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.
At the age of 5, I worked my lemonade stand for hours and hours. Remembering back, nothing was as hard as earning that first shiny dime. I saw my time spent working in and on my lemonade stand as an investment. I worked hard, I squeezed the lemons, I mixed in the sugar, mixed in more sugar, mixed in more sugar… then I recruited my first employee. At the time my brother Josh was 3 years old, who agreed that he'd work for free lemonade… (Note to reader: I'll save my lessons in management and contract negotiations for a later post)
I learned very quickly that creating a business that can be scaled up takes a LOT of work and resources. My only saving grace at the time was I didn't have to buy any of the materials. The loan I secured from the bank of Mom and Dad financed my first (and last) Lemon-Aid site. Their loan was at the best interest rate possible — my cost? A straight exchange of lemonade for funding… too bad businesses don't work that way today.
That was my first lesson in business, fiduciary responsibility, retail operations, supply chain logistics, human resources, public relations, and pretty much anything that had to do with trying to sell my sweet and deliciously refreshing glasses of ice-cold lemonade. But to be honest, my parents never said it would be easy.
How many of us founded our financial experiences with trial-and-error learning?
Remember, there's 2 types of people in the world: those that work for themselves and those that work for others.
I've worked in both capacities a lot in my 38 years of life. I've had lots of jobs, lots of careers, and have started and stopped a number of my own businesses. But one thing has always been constant – that deep down want to do my thing and create something from nothing.
When Manulife approached me about the #ManulifeReady campaign, I was apprehensive. I questioned if I was the right person to sharing in this digital conversation. After all, I still don't understand money. The following video is a perfect example of how I feel leading up to any conversation about money:
With all my business knowledge, I get it on the business side of things, but when it comes to my personal finances, I'm a mess.
In fact, I have a pet elephant and his name is “Financial Ignorance” — he's always in the room, whether I choose to acknowledge him or not, he's always there.
At the age of 5 I had no real concept of what money was. I knew it was something that my parents often whispered about at the dinner table. I knew it was something that grown-ups “worked” for. But what I really knew money as was that thing I could exchange for candy at the corner store — other than that, I really had no clue. It isn't something that was dinner table talk in my home growing up. In fact it has never been something I've been comfortable talking about – even now at 38 years old I find myself shirking the conversation with my own kids.
I'm passing on my bad habits, fears and ignorance to them, without even realizing it. And that's not right. It's time to man up.
Am I ready? Am I responsible? Can I provide for my family? How do you define money to a 5 year old?
Every one of these questions is important. And one thing I've learned since embarking on this conversation is there exists great resources for ensuring we are better ready for our financial futures.
As a parent, I want to make sure I give my kids the best opportunity to be financially ready for what life has to offer them. One tool in particular is the Family Finances Checklist.
5 Simple Things You Should Do to be #ManulifeReady
- Start a Registered Education Savings Plan (plan for schooling now)
- Investigate Childcare (will you need it or not?)
- Protect Your Family's Future (do you need insurance?)
- Reduce Debt (debt management does and do not's)
- Look into Tax Deductions (what can or can't you write off?)
By checking off these 5 simple tasks, you're more ready and ready for all of life's adventures. In hindsight I wish these items were dinner table topics from time-to-time when I was growing up – my concept of money and outlook on finances would be very different. But fortunately for me, I can teach my 38 old self new tricks. There's no time like today to start.
Kick the Elephant to the Curb
My foray into the Lemonade market taught me a ton. It taught me what it is to be an entrepreneur – to create something from nothing. At 5, my first and only sale was to my grandma. She paid me with a bright, shiny dime. She took a sip, gave me a big smile and went back into the house. My mom later told me she poured the lemonade down the drain, but that didn't matter to me. To me I had a customer. I made a sale. I was a business creator. And that 10 cent coin bought me a 2 pieces of bubble-bubble at the corner store.
We're all chasing our visions, our dreams and our passions. Much of what we build for ourselves is from nothing – like lemonade from lemons. We work to provide for ourselves and our family. Whether we work for ourselves or for someone else, we agree that our financial readiness is important.
Don't ignore the elephant in the room. Get involved with the conversation.
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And, don't forget to enter Share & Win contest before March 22nd for a chance at $2500 in prizes.
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And to be absolutely clear, this is my disclaimer: “Just so you know, I have been compensated to share my ideas on this topic. Sometimes it is in the form of products, or services or even money… But here’s the thing; I won’t share anything with you that I don’t fully support. It doesn't matter what it is, or how much they are willing to give me, if I don’t believe in it, It won’t be on my site. Seriously. You’ll just have to trust me on this.” ~ Moose