I’ve always been a natural entrepreneur. I remember my very first enterprise – such a classic. A variation of the sidewalk lemonade stand, the sweet catch was…the stock wasn’t mine. It was the weekend of our annual family reunion. Remember those? It’s when you see relatives that you won’t even see at Christmas. You eat and drink to excess, and then promise that you will get together before the next wedding or funeral, knowing that you won’t. I started off selling iced tea and lemonade for 25 cents a cup. “Hey, it was all profit, no overhead.” Sales were strong, but if you aren’t expanding, you’re history.
I decided to add beer to my inventory. It’s not a family reunion without beer. Business boomed. Until a neighbor across the street called the cops, “Hey, how was I to know what a liquor license was?” I did add to my vocabulary, with juvenile delinquent and culpable deniability. I also learned one of the basic principles of economics, supply and demand.
I was young and broke and set out to do something about it, much like the main character in Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen. It’s the start of summer vacation, and our protagonist is wondering where he’s going to get enough money for an inner tube for his old ten speed bike. His life changes when his grandmother gives him an old rider mower for his twelfth birthday.
Almost as soon as he figures out how to run it, he’s in business. By the second day he has eight mowing jobs, and is introduced to The Law of Increasing Product Demand versus Flat Production Capacity, better known as “fast approaching your limit”. Three lawns a day, once a week, twenty-one lawns if he worked seven days, dawn to dark with no days off. At forty dollars a yard, great money, but it would mean no summer vacation.
Then he meets Arnold, a work at home stock broker who offers to barter. He will open a stock-market account in lieu of payment for cutting grass. Arnold not only invests the money, but offers business advice. Soon Lawn Boy has a partner, fifteen employees, a lot of money invested in the stock market, and is sponsoring a boxer named Joseph Powdermilk Jr. who comes in handy when Force of Arms and its Application to Business comes into play.
Learning the workings of the free-market economy has never been more fun. This book weaves the concepts of stock, the stock market, commissions, partnerships, employees, competition and more, right into the fabric of the story. If you are looking for something entertaining to begin teaching third and fourth graders about finances and business, try this engaging book. Now, couldn’t you go for an ice cold lemonade?