“Dad, can I start my own business?!”
Kenny would ask me this several times in 2015. He was 10 and I humored him. “Sure Kenny. Just come up with an idea and then we’ll talk about it.”
That little stinker did it! He came up with an idea to take trash cans down to the curb prior to garbage pick-up and then return them to the house the next day. We live in Upstate New York and there are tons of people who would certainly NOT WANT to deal with trash cans in January with a foot of snow on the ground. This is called opportunity. The cutesie question became a real thing as his 10th year wound down.
Therefore, I decided to start a new program with Kenny called “Entrepreneur Training”. I bought a notebook and titled the front and presented it to him on his 11th birthday. I told him that I would help him start and manage his first real business. He was ecstatic! In fact, lesson one was about opportunity and understanding what a business is.
I would go on to explain. “A business fills a need and therefore a business owner is a servant to the community. If you serve the community with a useful product or service, the community will thank you with cash.” We then moved right into lesson two on his birthday. “You need a target to shoot at. Zig Zigler says it best, ‘If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.’ Kenny, you need goals. Goals are your fuel for action in your business. Big goals will sustain you when you get a lot of NO’s.”
After this initial lesson, I assigned him the tasks of selecting goals, naming his business, and designing marketing materials. He took to the assignment and we were back into his notebook in no time. We reviewed and modified his goals until he was really excited to achieve them. I also helped him finish his marketing material.
In the subsequent lessons, we talked about the “Go for No” philosophy and business planning. He learned that a NO was on the path to YES. He needed to go through the numbers until he got the YES’s he wanted. For the business planning, he decided that he only wanted to work with one disposal service who had a Thursday pick-up. This would give Kenny a Wednesday/ Thursday weekly recurring business. I took him around the local neighborhood on Wednesday night and he wrote down the addresses of the houses with this schedule. There were 26 houses total.
The final lesson before taking real action was to practice. I helped Kenny design a door-to-door script and promotion to share. Then we practiced and practiced until he got it down with confidence. This was the most fun of all. I would goof around and pretend to be the angry customer who didn’t want to be bothered. I was the silly one who spoke like Adam Sandler (I do a decent impression). I gave him easy YES’s, hard YES’s, and all sorts of NO’s. By the end, he was well-rehearsed and ready to go. The video picks up from here. Make sure to check it out.
Entrepreneur Training was not meant to be shared or taught to others. But I was also publishing my debut father/child novel at the time, Arctic Land, and my publisher was highly intrigued by this project. Darren from High Bridge Books also hosts a podcast and he invited both Kenny and I onto his show. It was our first podcast. I’ll be sharing the link and accompanying blog in next week’s episode.
Along his journey from artist to engineer to entrepreneur, Ken Carfagno became a dad. And like many new dads, his kids inspired a long-forgotten gift. Ken could make up stories and draw his kids into them. This sparked a dream that lead to Dadnamics, the infusion of creativity, adventure, and silliness into dad time. And it lead to the Arctic Land experience.