I’ve been reading “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh, and in the first few pages he makes a comment about his early entrepreneurial endeavours. It made me think of something that I haven’t recalled in years.
When I was about seven, I started by first business. My family had a record player, and we were getting ready to get rid of it. It was the early 90’s and audio cassettes were clearly here for the long term, so we were starting a project to pick our favourite records and record them on tape.
Naturally this struck me as a business opportunity. Tapes were less annoying to use, and I had a Fisher Price tape player that ran on batteries. You didn’t even need to come into our house to listen to a record – instead I could play it for you on our front step and you could enjoy the music. Clearly a foolproof plan.
With a reckless disregard for business paperwork and music licensing law, I took to our front yard with a cardboard box to stand behind and a sign. I was charging ten cents to listen to any of our records – once we’d finished putting them on tape.
It took only minutes before my Mom started wondering where I’d gotten off to, and to find me in the front yard. Nobody had come by, so I hadn’t made any sales. Mom carefully explained that maybe we should wait until I had something to sell before I took to opening a storefront.
That said, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to test out the idea on some of the people we knew. So that night, when we walked down the block to visit my Grandma, I gave my pitch and walked out with five shiny dimes. I gave her yellow paper slips that I’d made with shaky printing that entitled her to listen to our tapes.
Grandma died a few years ago. She never cashed in those slips, though I know that they sat on the table next to her armchair for as long as she lived in that house my Grandpa built for them.
Thank you Grandma.