Developing entrepreneurial skills

September 24, 2011

I was interviewed again about the chapter I wrote for the e-book, Lessons Learned From the Recession. Being interviewed is quite an exciting event. I’m not even a little bit famous, so the novelty of being interviewed has not worn off. Each time it happens, my self-esteem rises some more. And, more importantly, I discover something about myself that I had not been aware of before. Sometimes, I’m reminded of past events. I’m able to see these past events as stepping-stones to my current life.

One of the interview questions required my remembering what the first job I did that helped to develop or instigate my entrepreneurial spirit. I tried to remember when I had completed work that would be classified as “entrepreneurial.” Each time a memory surfaced about something I had done, I would go a little further back in my memories. After all, the question was asking about the “first job,” not any job.

I remember creating various ways to make money as a child. My family was quite poor and if I wanted any spending money, I had to find a way to make it. One creative solution was to hang out at the golf course. My friends and I would walk the course, on the outside of the fence. We were looking for golf balls. We scoured the bushes and ditches in search of those little white gems. Then we would approach golfers in the parking lot, offering to sell them golf balls at discounted prices. I remember selling one to a gentleman who recognized it as being his, lost in a previous game. Thankfully, most of the golfers were willing to pay us for the golf balls, willing to part with the few cents it cost to cover our time spent looking for them.

Collecting bottles was always a sure way to accumulate cash in a hurry. We lived quite close to the border of British Columbia, Canada and Washington State, United States. People driving along the freeway and the highway on their way to the border would often stop and unload their empty alcohol bottles along the sides of the roads. Sometimes, we even found unopened bottles, abandoned before the border crossing. My friends, siblings, and I would pull our wagon through the large ditches on the edges of the freeway and highway. We’d collect up these abandoned bottles. Then convince someone’s parent to give us a ride to the bottle depot. The money we collected was split amongst all of us, each of us walking away with enough to make the afternoon worthwhile.

As a parent, I was always coming up with ways that my children could make money. My suggestions were reminiscent of my childhood days. One time, my oldest son piled toys he no longer wanted into his wagon. He pulled them around the neighbourhood, selling them to the families along the street. Since he knew the families, he had a good idea of which toys to recommend for which household. He was able to make a few dollars and was able to pass along something he no longer used.

Another time I had the children create books that reflected what they were learning in school. They coloured pictures to illustrate their books. I put up the money for the photocopying costs. And they put the books together using hole punches, yarn, and staples. These books were sold at our garage sales for $1 each. This certainly wasn’t enough to cover the costs of the photocopying. But it was enough to give the children spending money. And to teach them a bit about being entrepreneurs.

It seems that children grow up to be teens that work at the typical after-school part-time jobs. Although this is the most secure way to ensure a paycheque, it doesn’t encourage or develop the creative talents of the soon-to-be adults. The most successful teens, I think, are the ones that are able to explore and use their creative sides to invent ways to make money. These are the individuals that are going to survive whatever economic crisis occurs during their adult lives.

To read how I answered the question of the first job I did to develop or instigate my entrepreneurial spirit, and the rest of the interview, click on the link:

To download the free e-book, Lessons Learned From the Recession, follow this link:


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