What does a 9 year old truly understand about business? My father dresses up. He wakes up at 5:45AM every morning and disappears to make magic happen. T.V. tells me that business owners are rich. They wear suits and sit in big conference rooms telling his peons to do his bidding. A modern-day feudal system.
As a kid, I wasn’t interested in the glamour, the cars, or the other material rewards. I found myself mesmerized with the process. Creating and arranging something from nothing in such a fashion that information, money, products, services, and transactions flow through an assembly line of processes. Structure intrigued me.
My dad had a folder of blank invoices that I found growing up. and I got just as much excitement playing with these as any video game. I would fill them out as pretend transactions and organize manila file folders to keep track. I would think of business ideas, create price lists, offer monthly services, discounts for bulk orders, and try to put my plan to action.
My first business venture is in the sporting goods field. I was at the mercy of the resources available to me, so I had to get creative. I had no money. I had no inventory. My parents were not wealthy, but we were fortunate enough to live in a house that backed up to a golf course. Being a poor man’s course, the golfers weren’t very accurate. Our backyard was littered with golf balls and the woods across the course were full of lost freebies.
Gather. Clean. Arrange. Price. Plan. I told my mom I was going to catch turtles in the pond that created a water hazard on the hole nearest us. Carrying my sign with pricing, shoe box of golf balls, and invoices, I set up shop under a tree and solicited every golfer that came by.
Three for $1 for the scuffed, off-brand, or neon colored balls. Fifty cents for the pretty brand names like Titleist. A dozen for $3. I am not sure how I discovered wholesale pricing. Since I was the only guy in town, I dominated the market. Or so I thought. I am sure the shop at the clubhouse sold many more than I. But who turns down a 9 year old with a small business? Have you ever said no to a girl scout selling cookies?
The moment I knew I was destined to be an entrepreneur was when I accumulated $10 for the first time. I remember the joy and rush I got from counting it over and over and over in my closet.
Success became an obsession…