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Painful Business Lessons for My Daughter

Painful business lessons for my daughterOne of the reasons I wrote my book, "I'm not Afraid of the 'F' Word.  50 Lessons Learned on the Way to Business Failure" is that I would capture what I learnt for the sake of my daughters. 

I am well aware of the fact that as humans we all have to make our own mistakes.  It seems almost impossible for us to learn from the mistakes of others.  But there are so many mistakes that one can make, and if I could put all of mine together, then when my daughters start making some of the same ones, then they might pay attention to the others and start to minimize their exposure to them.

Exactly that happened about a week ago at school.  My daughter Joslyn is at school that has an entrepreneurial program where the girls can sell home made items on a Friday, once the items and their very simple plan and budget has been approved then they have a license to sell.  Joslyn is a very good cook and bakes and decorates lovely biscuits with her own branded label, “Joslyn’s Sweet Tooth”.  She got to sell on the first day, when I arrived at school and fetched the license from the teacher, but then she had a week to hand in the paperwork to sell again for the rest of term.  She sold out on that first market day and made a very healthy profit.

The following Friday morning Joslyn woke at 5.15, got dressed, finished her baking, decorated her biscuits, wrapped them and prepared her presentation tray.  In her mind she was busy working out her calculations and her profit and she was determined to sell her entire stock. 

But when I fetched her from school, she came home with all her biscuits still on the tray, unsold.  Joslyn wasn’t allowed to sell that day because she had not handed in the paperwork that was required.  It had been sitting at home the entire week.

It was a harsh lesson but she took it very well and when I heard about it, as much as I felt for her, I realized that this simple lesson was so simply overlooked by adults all the time. 

We can have the best product in the market, be poised to make a huge profit, and allow a small detail to undermine our entire marketing plan.  We can be so focused on the selling or marketing that we ignore the administration of the business.  Or we can overlook the one small, yet essential legal requirement for a business that could cost a fortune in fines, lost revenue or defending ourselves in court.

Sometimes we have to slow down from the fun part of our businesses, the icing sugar and chocolate sprinkles part, and focus on the boring paperwork to make sure that we can still be in business next week and making money.  Because if we don’t get it right, then we are just children playing make believe.

One week after this incidence, Joslyn had to sell raffle tickets.  She was walking around with a clip board muttering under her breath and when I asked what we was doing she said she was making a list of who to sell tickets to.  She was making a prospect list, although I doubt she has heard that term yet.  My daughter is learning!  And guess who is top of her list to sell tickets to?  “Mom’s clients”.  So, if you are wanting to win a Tag Hauer watch, the tickets are only R10 each, and the answer to the raffle ticket question is May 12th.  


Charlotte Kemp is a speaker and trainer and owns Niche Training

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