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My First Business Venture (At the Ripe Age of 8…)

My first business venture started when I was just 8 years old. And you know what? I actually made a profit with it! While the dollars seem small today, the experience was invaluable. And since then I have started many different ventures and made money with nearly all of them!

How It All Started

I flipped the page of the magazine – from paddle ball toys to Chinese finger traps to a set of play money…This magazine always had all things interesting. It was my mom’s Oriental Trading magazine. 

And then I saw it…

It was eye-catching, it was fun, and even I honestly wanted one.

Maybe it’d be something I could sell and earn a few bucks with!

The product: Smiley Face key chains

Smiley face key chains! Each one had a regular metal key ring with a yellow ball chained to it. And, of course, that yellow ball had a big ol’ smiley face on it (not exactly like the image here…but close).

The company was selling a gross (which I soon understood was 144 of them) for just $14.95. So each key chain was roughly 10 cents. I figured I could sell each one for a quarter and more than double my money!

“How would you sell them?…” you might be asking…

Lucky for me, my mom was a go-getter and on top of being a mom to five kids and the custodian for our church, she was also made crafts that she would sell at the local flea market during the summer months. 

Since I was only 8 years old, I figured she’d let me squeeze in some key chains onto one of her craft tables at the market…Free of charge of course (I was right!). 🙂

So that’s how it first started!

  • I bought the 144 key chains for $15
  • When I got them, I put them in a bin and labeled the sale price at $0.25
  • And then, I was just waiting for that next flea market!

First Business Venture

The First Day of Sales

The much awaited day finally came! I woke up that morning with the sun shining and a light dew on the ground.

It was going to be a great day. I could feel it! Those crisp dollar bills were ready to transfer their way from someone else’s hands into mine. 😉

At about 8:00 AM, my mom and my aunt (she crafted and shared the booth as well) set up their tables and lined them with a wide variety of crafts. I proudly placed my smiley face key chains toward the front of one of the tables. 

The customers started strolling in at 9:00 AM. And by 9:30 AM already, the traffic was pretty heavy.

Moms and grandmas made their way into our tent, looking at all the cool crafts my mom and aunt had on display. Then, their kiddos and grand-kiddos (that they were dragging in with them) spotted my key chains.

“Mom, mom, mom! Look at these key chains! They’re so cute! Can I have one please???? They’re only $0.25!”

Hahahahahahaaaa (that’s my somewhat devious laugh)! My plan was working! 

At roughly 9:30 AM, I had made my first sale.

I spent $15 for 144 key chains and now I had sold one for $0.25. I was well on my way to breaking even, and you could have seen that grin on my face from miles away I bet!

Man, I couldn’t wait to sell all those key chains!

My First Business Venture: Breaking Even

  • If I did indeed sell all those key chains, I would earn $36 — a $21 profit. Man, wouldn’t THAT be sweet!
  • To break even, I would need to sell 60 of those little guys. Sounds like a lot, but at just $0.25 a piece, it was certainly possible!

After that first flea market, I had sold 10 key chains and earned $2.50. It wasn’t a massive success, but it was something! I was well on my way to breaking even with this venture! After all, that was just one flea market of four, so I still had some time to recoup my initial investment.

Three more flea markets took place that year and those key chains continued to sell, pretty much as I expected them to. 

By the end of that first summer, I had sold roughly 50 key chains and earned $12.50. Not quite break even, but pretty fricken close!

The Sales Continued

Into that next summer, the excitement of those key chains wore off a bit, but the dollars kept trickling in (which, by the way, was my first experience with passive income! :)). After summer #2, I had sold roughly 90 key chains, which means I now had $22.50 — a $7.50 profit!

Sales dove sharply after that. The product wasn’t new and exciting anymore, and much of them were dinged up from getting banged together in the bin those first two years. I mayyybe sold 100 key chains in total. The rest probably went into the garbage a few years later (I didn’t learn about end-of-season clearance sales until later in life ;)).

All in all though…

  • I nearly broke even in that first summer with my first business venture
  • After it was all said and done, I ended up earning a profit of $10 on that $15 investment
  • And, I learned a ton about business along the way!

building success in your childrenEncourage Your Kids with Their First Business Venture!

When I first saw those key chains in the magazine, I ran over to my mom and told her my idea. She gave me a look like, “Yeah, that might work!” and encouraged me to try it. So I did!

I made $10. Big whoop. But think of what that little bit of encouragement did for me in my business career. 

At the ripe age of 8 years old, I was learning about:

  • forecasting
  • breaking even
  • sales trajectories and patterns
  • profits
  • inventory
  • and scrapping product!

I mean c’mon. What other 8 year old on this planet is thinking about these things? This was a FANTASTIC experience of earning money, learning about business, and getting better for the next business venture (spoiler alert – there are more of these posts to come! :))!

Thank you, Mom – for believing in me, for encouraging me, and for letting me explore and learn things on my own.

And, to all you parents out there, be sure to do the same for your kids. Sure, their ideas might seem terrible, but who knows?! Maybe they’ll work! And, even if they don’t, I bet your kids will learn some tremendous life lessons from the experience!

What Was Your First Business Venture?

How about you? What was your first business venture? Were you a kid like me? Or did your first business venture come later in life?

Be sure to tell us all about it in the comments below! I can’t wait to read all about them!

And, whatever they may have been, I’m sure you can recount those valuable lessons that you gleaned from them! 

Tell us all about your first business ventures in the comments below!!

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AUTHOR Derek Sall

Derek has a Bachelor's degree in Finance and a Master's in Business. As a finance manager in the corporate world, he regularly identified and solved problems at the C-suite level. Today, Derek isn't interested in helping big companies. Instead, he's helping individuals win financially--one email, one article, one person at a time.

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