Teaching business skills early
Well, well, well. Last month saw the nation’s unemployment rate rise above 10 percent for the first time since 1983. Many reports say this was a much worse jump than anticipated in part because employers continue to trim jobs from payrolls. And as business begins to improve, employers are rethinking the number of staff members actually needed to maximize profitability.
In my humble opinion, this is all the more reason to rethink how we are grooming our children for their future roles in the workforce: The more training and work ethic standards that can be instilled at an early age, the better.
When a polite Cub Scout, Alex visited my office with Grace, 11, recently visited an order form and well-polished sales presentation — with a little coaching from his older sister, Dawn, — I plunked down a check for two orders of popcorn. And I really don’t care much for the stuff. But Alex and the rest of his pa pack mates from Pack 351 are raising funds for camping trips and summer camp. And for each one that reaches 2,500 in sales, a college fund is established.
You know, it doesn’t matter if I need my car washed or not, I’m one of those people who will pull into a fundraiser car wash just to help out the hard-working kids. I’ll buy candy bars, wrapping paper, cookies and advertising space. If kids are willing to work for the funds they need, I’m willing to pay.
What I usually don’t do, unless it’s an emergency situation, is drop money into a bucket. Maybe it’s just me, but I get a tad uncomfortable seeing children asking for handouts to fund their activities. Perhaps it would be more beneficial for our youngest entrepreneurs to be encouraged to plan differently for their funding needs. From the age they begin to want things, perhaps they should learn that not everything is given.
Now, before you start sending me hate mail, let me tell you that not long ago I raised three kids who did their fair share of fundraising for the various clubs and organizations in which they were affiliated.
Better still, I WAS a fundraising kid. Living in a very small town in the Everglades, with even more limited resources than most, we had to be creative. We had spaghetti dinners and fish fries. We sold case after case of chocolate bars. We manned the soft-drink wagon at community events, had bake sales wherever we could, washed cars, sold handmade trinkets, created a masterpiece of a haunted house, and operated a concession stand at sporting events.
One of the two most creative things we did was to have movie night on Fridays. Movies were rented and refreshments sold. It was more about the socialization than the movie — but who cared?
And then we had skate night on Tuesdays. The wood basketball floor in the gym was transformed to a skating rink as soon as the last basketball game was played for the season. Admission, skate rentals and refreshments generated funds for many of our additional athletic needs. The basketball team then refinished and painted the floor each year. It was gorgeous.
Alex didn’t quite raise enough money this time to get his scholarship account started, but he now has money stashed for his upcoming activities.
“He ended up selling about $1,600 worth,” said Joyce Grace, Alex’s proud mother. “They each get to keep 28 percent of the total sales. His goal was to achieve a scholarship, and he was close. But the most important thing is he did look to the future.”
There are many local businesses, including Centennial Bank, willing to help the youth clubs and organizations. If any needs a location for a downtown Punta Gorda carwash, bake sale, or whatever — give me a call!
… Be on the look-out for “Wreaths Around Punta Gorda” to get your bids in early on these beauties … welcome Kitty and John Kloster, the new owners of Bin 82 …a big job-well-done to Claudia and Run Thomas of the Tropical store for all of their efforts with the successful third annual Harbor Walk, Harbor Run … Best Buy will be cutting the grand opening ribbon Saturday morning in Murdock …
Go-To Sites of the Week
(Teri Ashley is the business development officer for Centennial Bank in Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte. She can be contacted at 979-2128 or TeriAshley@rocketmail.com.) ¦