At 8 years old, I bought smiley face key chains in bulk and resold them for twice the profit. At age 12, I stepped it up a bit and started earning 92% profits with my second business venture!
How did I do it? What was the business?
It’s maybe even one that even your kid could start!
My Dad’s Career…Which Led to My Business Venture
My Dad has always been a hard worker.
His career? He worked in production at a furniture manufacturer.
Then, as a side business, he owned his own car dealership and worked there 3-4 evenings a week.
And, he even pitched in and helped out my mom with janitorial work at our church once in a while.
Like I said…he worked hard – often 70+ hours a week!
I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but I think my mom was getting sick of our shoes landing everywhere around the house. It was time for a shoe cabinet! — a special request for my dad to work on.
Luckily, my dad worked at a furniture manufacturer and there were hundreds of scrap pieces of wood thrown away every day!
My dad simply asked if he could take a few pieces home to build something, and his employer was totally fine with it.
The pieces were already cut in a way that he didn’t need to make any additional cuts – just add some glue, nail them together, and BOOM, we had a new shoe rack for the garage.
My mom was happy and I had my new business idea!
What if I built shoe cabinets and sold them at the flea market like I did the key chains? The wood was free and nails and wood glue were cheap!
Again, my mom and dad thought it was a decent idea, so I gave it a shot!
Annnnd hammer some more.
There! The first shoe cabinet was complete! It wasn’t perfect…there were a few hammer indents here and there, but it would do for that first trial day of sales.
I built three others to go along with it, just in case that first one actually sold.
The Trial Run! Did I Make a Sale?
The day of the flea market came quickly and I was ready! I lugged those cabinets in and then out of our family van and got them all set up on our designated spot (in front of all my mom and aunt’s craft stuff of course! After all, I was just a kid! Hahaha :)).
The price tag?
- $6 for the small ones
- $8 for the big ones
It was a pretty cheap price compared to anything you’d find in retail. But let’s be honest, it didn’t look ANYTHING like what you’d find in a retail store! But you know what? This flea market demographic wasn’t looking for the next chic in-style cabinet. They just wanted a big box to keep their shoes together!
And then it happened.
Just 20 minutes into the flea market start-time, a woman walked up to our booth, stopped, and started looking right at that shoe cabinet!
She looked up at my mom and aunt,
“This shoe cabinet. It’s $8?”
My mom piped up,
“Yes, my son here built it.”
I sat straight up in my chair with a big smile on my face, trying to look both business-like and cute and adorable at the same time.
She smiled and reached down for her purse.
I practically jumped out of my chair and held out my hand. I couldn’t believe I actually sold one! And I made 8 whole dollars! My key chain venture only earned me $0.25 a piece. I had to sell 32 of those things to make the same amount of money!
When that flea market was all said and done, guess how many cabinets I sold?
That first day alone earned me a cool $32! For a 12 year old, that was a pretty solid wad of cash!
It was time to make some more cabinets for the next month’s flea market!
I, of course, don’t have an income statement put together from my business as a 12 year old. But, I believe I sold approximately 12 cabinets that year, which meant I earned about $90 for my efforts.
Not bad for a 12 year old!
But, remember, that was the revenue. What was the cost to put all these cabinets together? And then what were the profits that I could actually put into my pocket?
If you remember, all the lumber was free.
- My dad simply checked the scrap bin at work
- Pulled out whatever he thought I could use
- And took them home and put them in the shop room in the basement
The only thing I needed to buy was wood glue, finish nails, and thin nails for the backer. They were approximately $2 for each item and they lasted for approximately 10 cabinet builds. So, it took me roughly $6 to make approximately $80 dollars. That’s a 92% profit margin!
Talk about a solid business venture!
In fact, it was so solid that I started getting competition!
The Competition Rolled In
I still find this comical.
I was making such solid profits that others started to think they could swoop in and earn some profits of their own!
And guess who the competition was?
My own uncle! Lol!
You see, I built medium and large shoe cabinets. He sat through quite a few flea markets watching one cabinet get sold after the other. He had access to cheap lumber as well and figured he may as well make some small cabinets!
So technically, he wasn’t direct competition, but he did sell a fair amount of cabinets himself too! (Maybe I should have thought about expanding my product before someone else did :))
All in all, I still did well with those cabinets year after year. After approximately three years of sales, I sold roughly 25 cabinets. That’s hundreds of dollars of earnings! Boom!!
And after those few summers of flea markets, I was on to bigger and better things – my first full-time summer job at our local greenhouse! But, that’s another story for another day.
Business Venture Ideas For Your Kids
Do you have kids that are getting older? Do they ever have ideas to earn money?
I suggest that you encourage them! Just think. Those little ideas could turn into big earnings in the future! At the very least, those kiddos will learn a ton about hard work and business along the way!
I absolutely love kids that are interested in starting their own business. In fact, I think it’s about time I write an article outlining business ideas for kids! Stay tuned for that one (I’ll probably have it up one week from today!)!
Did you earn any money as a child? What was your business venture? What do you think is a great business idea for children today?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.