My eldest, who is 7 was fascinated by the idea of making some more pocket money and so, when I told him about Ingvar Kamprad (the founder of IKEA) and how he sold pens to his Grandmother when he first started out, Joshua was hooked... And he came up with the idea of customising a pencil that all those children (and adults) in lockdown that are homeschooling might like the idea of.
Well, I can honestly say, I love the idea (I am obviously biased...!). More than anything, over the last two weeks Josh has been staying up late, thinking through his idea - doing 'market research' with his friends, testing different ideas, reading for hours to find out more about what might work (completely voluntarily), figuring out concepts such as costs, suppliers, sensible pricing, profits, how to work together with others and then how to motivate, incentivise and share any profits made fairly.
It has been wonderful to watch his eyes light up as it all comes together and it goes from just being an idea into something tangible. Whether this is a successful 'business venture' or not, for me, is beside the point. The joy of 'learning by doing' is palpable when I see him beaver away and talk, full of passion, to his friends about what he would love to make happen. And concepts that can be abstract and feel complicated even for Business school students become common sense as he works through them and sees the real impacts they have on making this idea a success or not. It is real 'Montessori style' learning in action :-).
We have had questions like 'Why do we have to pay the postman 65p per 2nd class stamp? That is such a huge chunk of what I get paid, Mummy! Can't we make friends with the postman and he will do it for free?' or ideas such as 'Mummy, what if I made the packaging myself rather than buying Jiffy bags? Then I would save on that.' All very logical ideas - and from a business point of view exactly what we adults would do to cut costs and increase profit margins.
Similarly, when Josh started talking to his friends about his idea, he decided it would be more fun to do this together. There were in depth discussions around 'Josh, who will be the boss? and 'How will we make it fair?' and 'Do you give us the pencils to sell, or do we need to buy them ourselves?' and 'How will we tell people about this?. Everything from people management, marketing and sales is talked and thought about by 7 year olds.
I know that many of us had a 'lemonade store' on the corner of our roads at some point in our childhood - or maybe we made 'perfume' with rose petals.... It is strange to think that in this day and age, with Social Media and the Internet the lessons and fascination with earning a bit more pocket money remain the same, but that the reach is so much wider.
If you would like your very own legendary lockdown pencil, head to our store and order yourself one. I know Josh will be thrilled and he will then get a flavour for distribution, as well as supply and demand ;-)
Thank you all for your support! I hope you are staying safe.