A couple nights ago I was listening to Robert Kiyosaki’s audiobook of “Rich Kid Smart Kid”. The core message of the book is that the education system fails to teach children basic financial skills. The subjects taught in school are designed for us to be employees rather than entrepreneurs or business owners. They only taught us the technical skills of performing a particular job. Although academics are very important, some kids are not made for the academic way of learning. Some kids learn better in a practical environment.
I had a flashback when I was 10 years old, living in Jakarta and started my first business venture. As a kid, I received regular pocket money of the equivalent to $5. Although it wasn’t much, I could use the money for lunch and sometimes transport. One day I went to school and found that my friend just got his first bike. I asked him to teach me to ride a bike and after a couple of weeks I wanted to get one. I asked my grandma (who I lived with for 5 years) if she could buy me a bike. She said, “I’m not going to buy you a bike, I already give you an allowance every day. Use that to get your bike.” Now, even as a kid I could calculate that it would take me a while using my allowance money to get a bike. So I asked her “Isn’t there another way?”
She answered “Yes, there is!”
She asked, “What do you do with your allowance every day?”
“I buy lunch” I answered
“How much is that lunch cost?” she asked
“$3” I answered
“Tomorrow, I want you to go and asked every teacher at your school if they want a nice lunch delivered by you every day.”
“How much should I charge, $5? I asked
“That’s a good start.” she said.
“That means I would get $2 profit for every lunch” I realised.
At this stage math started to be fun. The next day I asked the teachers and I got 5 customers to start with. I asked for extra money from my grandma and she gave me the initial capital. Over the next couple of weeks my customer grew to 10 per day on average and sometimes more. After a couple of months, I saved the money to get my first bike and I had more savings left over.
I realised now that I was lucky enough to be taught about finance and business early in life. My grandma was a successful business woman at the time, she owned a textile business and exported to Singapore. Even though she could afford to buy me a bike, she insisted on teaching me about business and finance instead.
What was your first business venture?