Do you remember the first time you sold something and made money?  How old were you?  What did you sell?  Do you remember what it felt like?  Was that the start of your entrepreneurial career?

I often hear these great stories from highly successful entrepreneurs about their first business endeavour.  They are usually pretty simple and they often started very young.  You know the stories, lemonade stalls at 7 years old.

What’s your story?  I would love to hear it.

My story is chokos.  There was a vine growing on the back fence at home covered in chokos.  I was about 9 years old and I decided that I could make some money by taking a box of chokos down to the local shopping strip and setting up a stall.  I got my mate from next door to help me carry the box of chokos down the road and together we set up a little stool with an old wooden create and a tin tub full of chokos with a hand written sign.  I arrived at the price per choko by going to the local fruit and veg shop and seeing what they were selling them for and then made my price a bit less.  I thought that they would walk out on their own at the price I put on my chokos but …

Setting up my little stall right outside the fruit and veg shop wasn’t a good idea.  I had only been there a few minutes and the store owner came and told me to get lost. Hmmm … I move down the street a bit and set up my stall again determined to sell my wares.  I got lots of comments and looks from passing pedestrians but not a lot of sales.  Then this one older man came up to me and started bartering.  I had already made my prices cheaper than the fruit shop but he insisted that I sell my chokos for less.  It was a great lesson in negotiating.  Here’s me, all of 9 years old, negotiating with this older man about why my prices were good.  Anyhow, I recall that we came to an arrangement.  I said to the man, “well if you take all of them, you can have them for that price” to which he said, “fine” and he bought me out.  That was it.  I was done.  Sold out.

My daughter tops me though.  She set up her first lemonade stall outside the front of our house when she was just 4 years old.  Priceless!

What were the lessons for you from your first commercial pursuit?  I learned about negotiating, pricing, location, product, sales, competition, partnerships and sharing profits with friends.  Invaluable lessons that have stayed with me throughout my life.

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