Business School for Beginners

Home-schooling or rather Un-schooling – Who was to know the intensity of it when we first started out? ‘Full-on’ is a word that springs to mind when I think about the level of engagement required. Survival at times requires pulling tricks out of a hat, which if well presented, might even be understood as some of the very best free-range education.

So when 9 year old Sarah decided that running a Pancake and Coffee Stall at the beach was her ideal way to spend the summer holidays, we (the doting parents) happily jumped on board….thinking this would be a fine way for her to learn a few business skills. That was back in the beginning and we were still naïve, but you can read more about that adventure here.

The short of it was that as the cheap labour force, we (the doting parents) quickly decided that this level of educational input was overkill, especially when the wind blew east and the kites went up and we were stuck tossing pancakes or packing up gazeboes. Fortunately our daughter agreed and anyway she was rich now and wouldn’t need to work again for sometime.

We came away from this experience having learnt the following lessons: We learnt that working through the holidays is challenging, tiring and frustrating although admittedly fun at times. We learnt how to work together as a family, and we certainly learnt how to toss a pancake.

And because sharing is caring, when a local Play-School decided to throw a fund-raiser the following year we volunteered our now expert pancake skills. So for the past few years our pancake stall equipment has been dusted off once a year for the Acacia Tree School’s Moonlight Market Fundraiser.

But then, just as we were settling comfortably into our annual routine, Angus the ‘Nougat Guy’ spotted us, possibly drawn to our talent and flare – although more likely drawn to the smell of pancakes smothered in cinnamon sugar and lemon – and invited us to join a monthly town market underway and in desperate need of a Pancake Stall.

Now the thought of pancakes once a month was far more manageable than every. day. of. the. holidays… and Leah was showing strong potential as assistant to her big sister and now expert Pancake Stall Manager, Sarah. Of course the continuation of their business skills program (the girls are responsible for everything) and extra pocket money couldn’t hurt either.

But the deeper truth as to why this was such a great learning opportunity and needed to be developed lay in the fact that ‘Mom’ loves a Market (almost, although not quite as much as she loves a Junk Shop) and was drawn to the idea of floating around, coffee in hand, perusing the love and toil on display in between hanging out with buddy Lou who runs a divine food stall just down the row…. while the ‘lil ones worked for their income and learnt more about the ‘Real World’.

Hah! How time does blur the memory…and as usual I was the one getting the lesson.

While the girls are responsible for everything, the cheap labour force I find, is still very much in demand at quite an intense level –  admittedly and thankfully this improves with each passing month as our little entrepreneurs grow into their roles.

However for the time-being even The Dad gets roped in if Market Day happens to fall on a home stint.

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And so, pancake experts we are. Business skills we have, and  Saturday sees another Market at the Crossings. I will be the apron clad Mom sweating behind the pan and not the glamorous, well heeled, Suburban House Wife sipping on her take-out Cappuccino while looking down her designer nose at the make-shift Pancake Stall being run on child labour.

See you there!

Celebrating a Year of Crossings Markets and Pancake Tossing. Oct / Nov 2014 

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19 thoughts on “Business School for Beginners

  1. Always good to start them young. Too many people here don’t have a clue where money comes from, where the government gets its money to spend on health, education etc. Such business skills can never go wrong.

    • Yip. I agree! I am also hopeful that they will come to realize that there are many ways to make a living. A young man from our village told me the other day that when he was a kid he would ask his Mom for money when he needed it and she would tell him that she couldn’t just give him money and that he had no idea where money came from. (She worked for me at one of the restaurants I ran and was a single mom raising two small children. She died when the kids where still quite young and they raised themselves from that point on). This youngster is now heading towards adulthood while still trying to get himself through school and picks up odd jobs over the weekends and holidays to help with this. He continued by adding that now he understands what his Mom was saying and realizes now that money doesn’t just appear but comes from ‘a hard place’. It was an interesting conversation

  2. So much to love… bright enthusiastic kids with initiative, engaged parents and community… if only this post and the first! & modeling would go viral. And pancakes & coffee – yum 🙂
    Every community or farmers market is a win against Big Business and consumerism and its wonderful you guys are taking a place as tangible supporters even if you didn’t get to swan around sipping a latte…
    I worked for my Dad all through my teen years, and it had a profound effect on my understanding of the real world (we live in it!) and work ethic.

    • We spend lots of time discussing consumerism and cutting back and not wasting money on rubbish. Both girls are quite good at saving up for particular items which we encourage too. Living in a village away from the shopping malls helps though. I find that the less time we spend in toxic mall type environments the better we are for it and the quicker we seem to need to get out when we do ‘go to the mall’ for whatever reason. It would be more challenging if we lived in town. One seems to acclimatize to these environments and it is so easy to just pop down to the shops, and before you know it you have spend more than you intended on rubbish that you don’t need. It is an ongoing challenge but one that I am happy to take on! Thanks for the encouraging comment EllaDee. I know we share similar views on these types of topics!

  3. This is wonderful!
    I used to take each of my children to work with me at times; at the very least, it showed them how hard work is for a small business owner (and to stay in school!). We called these “What Not to do For Your Career Day.”
    It must be very gratifying for your girls to see a positive result ($$$) for their labors!

    • I am hopeful that the girls aspire to careers beyond a pancake stall but in the meanwhile they certainly enjoy the process of working out profit! Perhaps one day pancakes will contribute to college funds…here is to hoping! Good to here from you as always Struggler.

  4. Love the post, love the enterprise, love the entrepreneurs!
    They’re learning a lot, way beyond pancakes, and the profit motive (despite problems) is not to be sneezed at.
    BTW, those pancakes look good enough to eat (forgive the redundancy) — wish I had a pancake stall close at hand right this minute!!

  5. I think that’s really good for them. I wanted to work, although I got pocket money from my grandparents. My friends dad had a newspaper shop so she had a round delivering papers. My parents didn’t want me doing that so I ended up working for them on Saturdays, started with delivering orders, and then when my dad sacked the ‘cheese boy’ (cutting cheese for customers) I took over, and continued for years, including my time at university.

    I love those pinafores. They are great. Soooooo colourful.

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