Episode 74: Entrepreneurship & Kids

July 06, 2016
Episode 74: Entrepreneurship & Kids
Episode 74: Entrepreneurship & Kids

Jul 06 2016 |


Show Notes

Sherry interviews her 9 year old and her 5 year old about their understanding of how entrepreneurship and creativity fit together. They talk about some of their interests, hobbies, and entrepreneurial endeavors. Rob answers a listener question about how to foster and encourage entrepreneurship in children.

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Geffin Walling’s Book: A Parent’s Guide to Minecraft

Episode Transcript


Sherry : Hey everybody, so you die-hard listeners will know that we did not produce an episode last week. All will be clear in the next coming weeks. There is a ton going on in our lives and in our family and it’s good stuff, but it has kept us extraordinarily busy and focused on other activities. Rob is not with me on the podcast today, I am enlisting the help of the younger men and my son Geffin and my son Fisher will be joining me on this episode. We’ll be talking a bit about entrepreneurship and kids, and sort of a child’s understanding of how entrepreneurship and creativity fit together. We will hear directly from the experts about how to think about cultivating and encouraging the kinds of entrepreneurial type activities that kids can start doing very young and can start developing a mindset toward creativity and taking responsibility for making their own things and listening to their own imaginative ideas. So, hang in there, I really encourage you to continue listening. The next couple weeks and months, we’ll be unpacking some of the big changes in our lives, and giving behind the scenes stories about this sort of next phase of the start up life.


Speaker 2: (Introduction)


Geffin : Hello, welcome to this issue of the ZenFounder podcast. I’m Geffin, the guest speaker on this episode of the podcast.


Sherry : Alright, so, Geffin, what expertise do you have about entrepreneurship, startups?


Geffin : I’m pretty sure that entrepreneurial is making your own stuff and selling it.


Sherry : Yup.


Geffin : So, usually if you work for someone, you’re not an entrepreneur.


Sherry : Do you know anybody who has that kind of job?


Geffin : I can’t think of anybody, no. I don’t really go around asking.


Sherry : Do you know what Daddy’s job is?


Geffin : He’s a computer programmer.


Sherry : Yeah, kinda.


Geffin : He makes code. He’s the boss of a company called Drip, which makes a website code.


Sherry : Yeah. So what do you think about the life of an entrepreneur? Are you interested in making your own things and maybe having your own business someday?


Geffin : I wrote my own book. Doesn’t that count as making something?


Sherry : I think it counts as a great start.


Geffin : I’m planning to make my own game pretty soon.


Sherry : Oh yeah, what kind of game strategies are you thinking about?


Geffin : RPGs.


Sherry : What does that mean?


Geffin : It is role playing game.


Sherry : You have been experimenting already with making your own games, right? You just wrote a campaign in Dungeons and Dragons, that you played with your uncle and your dad?


Geffin : Yes.


Sherry : What made you decide that you wanted to write your own campaign?


Geffin : I wanted to join in on being a Dungeon Master, which is what they call the facilitator of D and D campaign. I wanted to make my own campaign.


Sherry : But why? Why did you want to make your own? Instead of following one that someone else had made?


Geffin : Because I like the thrill of creating something and I just like to make stuff.


Sherry : You’re obviously very creative and entrepreneurial, if I may say so myself. What are some of the other ways in which you are pursuing creativity or making your own things?


Geffin : I like to make origami and act and also I like to design 3D paper figures. I also like to read and make my own books and write stories and I’m pretty much out of things to say.


Sherry : You’ve kept a blog in the past. You haven’t written on it for about a year, but you like to keep a travel blog, right?


Geffin : Yes.


Sherry : Do you think you’ll be keeping one this summer about your travels?


Geffin : Maybe.


Sherry : See if you can fit it in your busy schedule?


Geffin : Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Sherry : What role do you think cello has in you becoming a creative or entrepreneurial kinda person?


Geffin : It inspires me to write my own music.


Sherry : Do you remember the composing contest that you entered a couple years ago?


Geffin : Yeah. That reminds me. I want to see that video again.


Sherry : Why don’t you explain to the listeners what that was.


Geffin : Well, you were supposed to make your own song, on your desired instrument and you choose a video that goes with it and then you attach the sound clip to the video and send it to these contest people. Did I win second place?


Sherry : I don’t think it was actually a contest, I think you just had the opportunity to display your song in front of a large audience.


Geffin : Oh yeah. It was like that.


Sherry : Yeah, at the University of Nevada.


Geffin : Yeah.


Sherry : What kind of video did you choose?


Geffin : A Minecraft video.


Sherry : It was actually … It was really awesome. You wrote some great music to go with it. Well, it’s pretty hard to earn money with a cello.


Geffin : I got a basket.


Sherry : Well yeah, you did that in Europe and made a bunch of money, huh?


Geffin : Wasn’t that like fifty bucks?


Sherry : Yeah, that’s a pretty good take for 25 minutes, playing on a bridge. Cello teaches attention to detail, it teaches hard work, it teaches working on something new and working on something hard, learning new things.


Geffin : Yeah.


Sherry : Does any of that sound true?


Geffin : Sort of. It’s fun. It’s funner than it is worse, but it’s like 55 and 45 percent. So 55 percent is fun, 45 percent is not fun. So it’s just a tiny bit more fun.


Sherry : More fun than not fun?


Geffin : Yeah.


Sherry : Yeah. It’s a lot of work, isn’t it?


Geffin : Yeah.


Sherry : Yeah. You wanna play something for us?


Geffin : Yeah, I’m gonna play a section of a song called Gevreit by Looley.


Sherry : Finn worked on that song for several months and spent lots of time with his teacher perfecting all of the details. Even though he finds playing an instrument to be mostly fun, it is also a ton of hard work and requires a lot of dedication and involvement, from both Rob and I in supporting him in really pursuing mastery over something. I think that is one of the keys to cultivating entrepreneurship in kids is this communication to the child, over and over, in lots of different ways that they have the ability to cultivate expertise or mastery or the power to contribute something unique and individual.


Our kids are both training classically as musicians but once you know the building blocks of music, there’s all kinds of space to color outside the lines and play in different ways and make up your own songs or modify songs in ways that you enjoy.  I think that’s an important lesson as well. That mastery involves knowing the technique and having real skill and that it’s once you have really studied something and practiced a lot, that you then have the ability to color outside the lines and make it your own.


Speaking of reading, you have a pretty deep fascination with the comic strip Dilbert. Can you tell me what about Dilbert you really like?


Geffin : It’s funny and it’s ironic and I like Wally and Dilbert and Dogbert and Rathbert and Alice and the pointy-haired boss is just annoying.


Sherry : So, some people might say, “How could a nine year old understand Dilbert?” Because it’s about offices and work and office politics.


Geffin : Well, sometimes I don’t understand the words. Like, memo, audit and patent. And other stuff. Cubicle was a new word for me, but now I know what it is.


Sherry : So even though you don’t understand all of the language, you understand the irony. Can you tell me about …


Geffin : Usually the humor does not escape me.


Sherry : How come you called Derek the pointy haired boss?


Geffin : Because he’s the director of engineering.


Sherry : Wow.


Speaker 4: Mom, who will I send it to?


Sherry : Hey, is that the first time you’ve ever played that? That’s awsome. Wait, I have a question for you. Is that the first time you’ve ever played that?


Speaker 4: Yes.


Sherry : How does it feel to have played Minuet Number Two for the first time?


Speaker 4: Good.


Sherry : Good?


Speaker 4: Good.


Sherry : Do you know who wrote that song?


Speaker 4: Who?


Sherry : Bach.


Speaker 4: Who’s Bach?


Sherry : A very famous composer.


Speaker 4: Professor?


Sherry : Composer.


Speaker 4: Stephen Hawking?


Sherry : Not Stephen Hawking. Bach. Hey, you’ve been talking a lot about Stephen Hawking lately, what do you think about Stephen Hawking?


Speaker 4: He made [inaudible 00:10:54] and he [inaudible 00:11:00] secret.


Sherry : George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt and George’s Secret Key to the Universe? Are those your favorite books right now?


Speaker 4: Yeah, it says they’re written by Lucy and Stephen Hawking.


Sherry : Lucy Hawking is his wife. What do you learn about when you read his books? Or listen to his books on audiobook?


Speaker 4: I just learn stuff.


Sherry : You learn stuff about space and science?


Speaker 4: [inaudible 00:11:24] favorite planet.


Sherry : Saturn’s your favorite planet?


Speaker 4: How the name sounds and I just like Saturn.


Sherry : How old are [inaudible 00:11:34]?


Speaker 4: Six.


Sherry : Six? Not quite.


Speaker 4: I’m 55, then.


Sherry : 55?


Speaker 4: Yeah. Of course you know, you’re my mom.


Sherry : I know, you’re five, huh? Are you a wild five?


Speaker 4: Yes.


Sherry : When you’re not playing violin and not reading Stephen Hawking’s books, what do you like to do?


Speaker 4: Play [inaudible 00:11:58].


Sherry : Yeah? What do you like to play?


Speaker 4: I like to play [inaudible 00:12:03]. It’s the best game ever.


Sherry : What makes it such a good game?


Speaker 4: You can just play whatever you want and destroy things.


Sherry : Destroy things?


Speaker 4: Yeah. With T and T and fire.


Sherry : Yeah, but you really like to build things, huh?


Speaker 4: I like destroying things a lot.


Sherry : Oh, geez.


Rob : Surprise. Even though Sherry said I wouldn’t be on the podcast this week, it turns out I actually am. Coming on the show to answer a listener question about fostering entrepreneurship in children. The question comes from Chris McHenry.


He says, “Hi Rob and Sherry, I greatly enjoy the ZenFounder podcast, and also Startups for the Rest of Us. Thanks for putting out such great content for entrepreneurs. You’ve mentioned a few times in your episodes, some of the ways you’ve attempted to foster entrepreneurship and creativity in your children. I’d love to hear more about this topic in general, especially some of the details around the actual implementation. How you set up a store to get run by your children. Tax and business implications. Ideas for businesses, et cetera. I have three girls from age six to 13, and my two older daughters are very eager to start an online business to sell some of the crafts that they make. They’re also looking for ideas to make money, in general, beyond the weekend lemonade stand.


As an entrepreneur of two businesses, I want to foster this interest, but I can’t make it my full-time job. I’d like my children to own it and actually learn by doing the work. I’ve been guiding them by asking them questions and giving them ideas, where they might find information. They took the initiative to look into starting a store on Etsy, but found that you need to be 20 years old to open a store on that site. I’m trying to figure out how I can help them get started and guide them in the right direction. I’m also wondering what happens when they become successful, how to deal with the liability and taxation issues. I realize this is premature optimization. I think you mentioned helping one of your sons create an info product and market and sell it online. I’d love to hear more about your story, and any thoughts you have about children and entrepreneurship in general.”


This is a good question, I like this one. I have a lot of thoughts about it. I think the bottom line is, worrying about when they become successful and the liability and taxation, I definitely think is premature optimization because what you’re gonna have for years to come, in all likelihood, is them creating something that sells $50 or $100 or $200 worth. It’s just not worth doing anything beyond the very basics to take care of that. So, the very basic, if you don’t have your own business, is to just do, in the U.S. it’s called a Sole Proprietorship, depending on what country you’re in, there’s a typical setup where you don’t have to file anything, for the most part, it just goes right to your … Again, it’s called schedulecy and it just comes in as this other income. It’s not W-2 income, but it’s income that’s generated. That’s probably going to be … For 99% of people listening to this, that’s gonna be the best way to go.


For me, I happen to have several LLCs and S-corps just lying around so I happened to use one of those and put both the expenses to print the info product, because this was more than just a book my son wrote, more than just an ebook. It was actually a physical copy that we run through Create Space, which is a print on demand provider. His book, by the way, is called “A Parent’s Guide to Minecraft”. I’ll also link that book up in the show notes. That is hosted on Gumroad and yeah, he never would have been able … He was eight years old, I think maybe even seven, when he wrote that. So he would not have been able to set up a Gumroad account, he doesn’t have a bank account, for which Gumroad can push the money. He doesn’t have a lot of stuff to do it. So I did a system with that. I agree, I couldn’t make it my full-time job either, but with someone as young as he is, I thought, “What is the absolute simplest way to be able to do this?”


For me, it was a service like Gumroad that handled all of it. So, I either had a Gumroad account or maybe I just signed up … I think I may have signed up for one just for him and I handled that. I managed the password, I linked it to the bank account. So it did take me, whatever it takes, 20 minutes or something, to set that up. Then he made the cover, I showed him how to do a screenshot and a PDF and I showed him how to upload, so I kind of worked with him on that, but it was definitely something that I had to work with him on. Now, if it was an ongoing business, as it became ongoing, he was able to see the revenue that was coming in and he was able to … He was basically running my account and I would give him the cash for it. He was able to track that and I didn’t have to do that ongoing work.


So, similarly with Etsy, if we were in a similar situation, he was going to build and sell stuff on Etsy, I could see signing up for the account and I could see putting it under my tax ID and to be honest, my dad did this, when I was a kid. It wasn’t entrepreneurship, but it was stock investing. For some reason when I must have been about 10 years old, 10 to 11, I got really interested in stocks and so I wanted to buy some and I had barely enough money, I don’t even think I could buy a full share of a lot of things. But he would go in with me. I’d have $20 and I’d want to buy a $40 stock and he would match it and buy half the share and I’d buy half the share. Over time, that grew and I was able to buy more and more, but I couldn’t get a brokerage account, this is … We’re talking the early 80s, so there was no online trading. I would have to call Charles Schwabb and act like I was a grownup and sometimes they wouldn’t take my trades because they said I was a kid and they’d ask where my father was. Then other times … My voice was high, when you’re 10 or 11. Other times, they thought I was my mom, and then I could make the trade.


All that to say, I remember him, essentially, he did a little bit of education but then he allowed me to kind of work through his efforts, in essence, or just his age to be able to do it. So I feel like I did the same thing for my son and that’s what I would suggest doing here. So, if you’re gonna sign up for this Etsy account, but then you’re gonna have to show them how to administer it. That’s the ongoing part. Especially if you have … You said ages six to thirteen, so on the top end of that, I’d say between ten and 13 maybe even nine and 13, the child should … If they’re fairly computer savvy, they should have no issue managing an Etsy account. The software … I haven’t used it but my understanding is that it’s consumer software. It’s made so that a lay person, non technical, should be able to administer it.


So, while I think you’ll be tech support, and you’ll help when the image gets stretched and looks goofy or the bank account won’t pair up or something, they should be able to do the basis of that, in my opinion. You could help them by helping edit the product descriptions or something like that, but I really like your approach to thinking about allowing them to do as much as possible and not trying to do it all for them and upload it because then they don’t learn nearly as much.


Lastly, you asked about ideas for businesses. This is the hardest one. This is now where I have gone online and done searches, I imagine maybe there’s a book written on this subject or something but the thing that I’ve never liked about it is, I prefer online businesses. I want my kids to learn how to do it on the internet. There’s a bunch of reasons for that. I mean, I think because the profit margins are higher, you can do it from anywhere, and we travel quite a bit now, but I also want them to learn that long term that they can do these things over the internet and I want them to learn how to do it the hard way so they aren’t necessarily tied to a location. I had a lot of experience as a kid doing Sophia mail order, I bought and sold comic books for five or six years, probably from the time I was nine until I was 14, maybe even longer. Then I was doing it on the bulletin boards when I got in college, like BBSs.


So, this is something where I veer heavily towards doing something online and whether that is an info product or whether that’s using Etsy or whether it was something else entirely, I don’t think they need to do something super innovative at this point, they’re really just learning some basic skills. How to track money, how to make a profit, how much work goes into something, how to write some copy to describe something. There’s just basic skills, so they don’t need to innovate and create some amazing thing, even if they’re selling their own baked goods or they’re selling mistletoe on Etsy with a bow around it during holidays or whatever it is, I think there’s a ton of lessons to be learned and I think that’s the important part. At this point, we’re just trying to educate on the basics and then later on, we know that a lot of it is about learning marketing and is about building a product people want, and blah blah blah, but at this point, they don’t necessarily need to learn all that, they just need to get some practical skills under their belt and the rest will either come later or you can educate them on that later.


So, this is probably the hardest one to address directly. I’m always on the lookout for this. To be honest, I’m looking for what my son is interested in, and I’m kind of noodling in my head of like, “Could there be something that he’s already interested in?” And he wrote that book “Parents Guide to Minecraft”, that was based on his interest in Minecraft, his interest to write a book, then we got together and I guided it to be a parents guide, because he wanted to write it for kids and I said, “The parents are the ones with money and the ones with not enough knowledge about Minecraft.” So I helped guide the market there.


That’s the kinda stuff that I’m trying to do to figure out … I’m not always trying to guide him to start some business and turn every hobby into a money making thing, but I do think that if your kids do have an interest in starting a business, do they have an interest in making some money, and you’re keeping your ears open as they’re telling you about their interests, I do think that going with something they’re already doing or already interested in, is a nice, easy way to help foster that and then to think about, “How could this be sold online? How could it be turned into an ebook or a physical book.” Or whatever it needs to be. Then just help guide them through that process. This was a good question, I’m really glad you wrote in, Chris.


If you have a question that you’d like us to answer on air, email us at [email protected]


Sherry : Thanks for listening to this episode of ZenFounder. Our theme song is, “A New Beginning” by bensound.com [inaudible 00:21:14].



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