Borgman: Will the next Elon Musk please step forward



We may have some budding entrepreneurs among us. We don’t know how. It didn’t come from our gene pool. I take that back. It may have.

Years ago, we were at a function where people were asked to share their first job. The husband recounted his venture into the wild world of fortune eggs. Age 8. His mother had shown him how to hollow eggs by tapping small holes in either end of a raw egg and blowing out the contents. He hollowed out some eggs, wrote fortunes copied from the daily horoscope on small slips of paper and inserted them into the empty shells.

He took them to school and sold them to his second-grade classmates. I don’t remember having pocket change in second grade. He must have traveled in affluent circles. In any case, he sold fortune eggs. Until the teacher put a stop to it.

If only the teacher had encouraged him. Who knows how wealthy we might have been today.

What entrepreneur hasn’t known the sting of defeat?

Our kids briefly ventured into the world of small business as youngsters with a Junior Achievement program. The girls made hair bows marketed under the name Bowtique. Our son made bug boxes. The takeaway from their experience was that expenses can quickly exceed profits.

Our son’s highest profit margin probably came when he was five and went door-to-door selling rocks to the neighbors for 50 cents a stone. I put the kibosh on that and a year later Pet Rocks became all the rage.

As a teen, he had 30-plus lawn customers when he left for college. He took a mower to campus with him hoping to continue the income stream. Soon after blanketing an upscale neighborhood with flyers promoting himself as a college student experienced in lawncare, he was contacted by the college administration office informing him that he could not use the university logo for business purposes. He’d unknowingly left a flyer at the home of the university president.

Now the next generation is dipping their toes in the water.

A half dozen grands sold goods at our neighborhood garage sale. The lemonade stand did quite well, most likely due to the pricing. The lemonade was free — but the cup cost 50 cents. Oh, and UPS, Amazon and FedEx drivers got free lemonade with unlimited refills. Our shoes still stick to the kitchen floor, but they made enough to buy pizza for dinner.

One offered handmade ink and wash notecards of river wildlife. Sales were less than brisk. I did my part. My quandary now is whether to use stationery of muskrats, otters and crawfish for birthday cards or sympathy notes.

One of the grands spent days before the sale cranking out cake pops, Oreo fudge and dog treats, each individually wrapped. Presentation is everything.

Her biggest sellers were the dog treats. Her biggest buyer may have been her brother. He made for great marketing, demonstrating how the dog treats made of peanut butter, whole wheat flour, applesauce, cinnamon and salt, were also edible for humans as people bought them for their dogs.

The baker cleaned up big time, netting a sizable bundle of bills. Unfortunately, not everyone can be an Elon Musk or Warren Buffet. Still, it was a good experience, and all were pleased that the one who ate the dog treats did not bark in his sleep.

Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Contact her at mailto:[email protected]