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Business Lessons from an Early Age

A story my father wrote about me and one of my first business lessons…

“Teaching your children seems to be getting harder these days. I don’t know whether it was ever easy.

To teach a lesson requires being on hand when the problem arises and then guiding the child through the learning process.

Such was the situation when my youngest presented her latest crisis. Her best friend was going to copy her Halloween costume down to specifics and now they would look exactly the same on that special day. Now, this may not seem like a 10 on the Richter Scale for problems to you, but to Lindsay it was sufficient to give her a class-one stomach ache.

Enter Dad. Easy problem. Easy solution, right? Wrong. One man’s problem is another cake walk. This is true no matter the age or the problem. I have seen people financially destroyed and declared bankrupt because of a $200 payment. I have seen others millions in debt negotiate to borrow more money to help them pay the debt. I have learned that an individual’s problems can never be minimized and no matter how big or seemingly small, the problem must be attacked with equal vengeance towards the solution.

‘You must learn to compartmentize the problem,’ I counseled my six-year-old.

‘Compartmentize?’ she asked in the questioning tone that let me know I was speaking in tongues.

‘Take the problem, break it down, and try to find a solution. You know MacGyverism,’ I said. A ‘MacGyverism’ she understood. MacGyver being the character of a TV show by the same name who routinely solves complex problems with brain instead of brawn.

‘But that won’t work with this,’ Lindsay said, indication a negative attitude I also wanted to break.

‘I’ll tell you what. You come up with a good MacGyverism to solve this problem and I’ll pay you one dollar,’ I told her realizing that I needed an additional motivation factor. The reduced tears and the determined look on her face told me I had been right. It isn’t always that we fathers are right about our advice and I’m always happy and a little smug when I think I’ve scored a victory. I had taken the time and I taught my daughter an important lesson.

Early the next morning, Lindsay bounced in my room advising me of her solution that she had working out in her mind. It was simple, but it worked.

‘Great job, Lindsay,’ I said. giving her encouragement and feeling proud that my guidance worked.

‘Do I get my dollar?’ Lindsay asked excitedly.

‘You sure do. And tell me, what lesson did you learn?” I asked knowing I would hear the reinforcement in my training.

‘Well,’ said Lindsay thoughtfully. ‘When you have a problem and you need a solution, just throw some money at it. Right?’ she asked, her facial expression indicating she had found the secret of life.

‘Well, that’s close, Lindsay,” I laughed. That’s close, I thought to myself. Parenting is such a precise science.”

… although some of that I think Daddy was a bit judicious with his writing… when I re-read that story again, it made me think of some very simple business concepts that I can tend to overlook.

1. What comes easy to you, may not come easy to others. How can you turn that into something that you can help others with?
2. Even in a “bad economy” people will pay for knowledge (or service) that they need…. and fortunately, it’s a little more than a dollar!
3. A client’s problem, although may be “small” compared to others, might be paralyzing to them- treat them all the same.

Just some “food for thought,” that I was reminded of from a simple story Dad wrote years ago and how it still applies to business today.

To Your Success!