Myiah, my 10-year-old mentee, comes from a family of 11 children. She lives with three adults, but none of them work outside the home. In her world, women don’t have careers. I’m trying to change that worldview. I talk frequently to Myiah about not if she’ll go to college, but when. We’ve visited college campuses, toured dorm rooms and explored Student Unions. We talk a lot about my business and work ethic and saving money and explore her dreams. She is absolutely fascinated by the thought that a woman can hold a good job and even own her own business. Myiah loves visiting my office and twirling in my big chair, playing with my adding machine and making copies.
One day recently, Myiah asked me how one started their own business. I told her that the first step is to meet with an attorney and asked her if she knew what that meant. “They take care of legal things for you,” she answered. Check. I told her that my attorney drafted important papers for me so that I could incorporate my business and make it legal. Then I told her that I found a place to build my office, hired a contractor to build my office, bought furniture and computers and copiers and office supplies and interviewed workers in order to hire my assistant. “That’s a LOT of work!!” exclaimed Myiah. Yes, I agreed, but I told her it was the best thing I ever did.
Myiah told me that when she starts her business, she is going to work out of her home and make bracelets and sell them on the internet. I asked her how she will do it. “I’ll take pictures of my bracelets on my phone, post them on Facebook, and ask people to buy them. Customers can request whatever color combination of bracelets they want, send me money, and then I’ll make the bracelets, put them in a package and mail them at the Post Office.” Pretty good plan for a 10-year-old. I suggested to her that she could open a store and sell bracelets, earrings and necklaces. That intrigued her. “What else would you like to sell in your store?” I asked. “I would like to sell bath bombs.” I asked her where she will get them. Myiah responded that she would buy bath bombs from another store and sell them at her jewelry shop. The words were not entirely out of her mouth before she stopped herself. “Wait, that won’t work. If I can buy them from another store, my customers could also buy them from the other store and then they wouldn’t buy them from me!”
I know grown entrepreneurs who haven’t grasped that notion yet! Myiah had another solution: “I’ll make prettier bath bombs with more scents in my basement for cheaper than I could buy them and then tell the people who even shop at the other stores to buy my bath bombs!” WOW!!!! She gets it! What a smart cookie! Bill Gates, watch out!