I had to break some tough news to my three daughters yesterday.
For a quite a while now, we’ve been paying the girls a nominal amount of money by way of an allowance. For the most part it just gets credited to an app where I track how much money they’ve got and what they’d like to spend it on. We decided that this was the best approach since, if we just gave them cold hard cash, they had a tendency to blow the lot on sweets – which isn’t really the desired result.
Putting it all in an app (Roosterbank if you’re interested) works much better. Once their pocket-money builds up a bit it can be put towards a larger ticket item – whatever they want really. But at around £5 per week each, the totals do tend to rack up quite quickly. And increasingly we’ve come to realise that the girls now feel entitled to this money.
To make things worse, with the addition of a new dishwasher just before the Christmas holidays, we’ve automated our girls out of one of their main chores. Prior to getting the dishwasher we at least had some expectation that they would wash up occasionally.
And for the most part, badly.
But now they don’t even have to do that.
It was long overdue time to review our existing arrangement.
The girls and I were all feeling pretty relaxed and having a good time, eating lunch after an enjoyable visit to some of the local museums and art galleries. As I sat munching on my meatball sub, the girls started to outline some plans they had for a new business venture.
They intended to monetize their current dance moves in some manner that wasn’t very clear to me. I think they had visions of shaking their touches on the street and crowds flocking in droves to throw money at their feet.
To be fair, it’s not like they’re bad dancers. I just didn’t think this was a particularly great plan. It seemed like a teachable moment was on the cards.
I explained to them that in order for their entrepreneurial efforts to be successful, they needed to solve a problem of some sort. Ideally, a problem for mommy and daddy, since any future allowance would be tied to the successful delivery of some kind of useful service(s) rendered.
Cue sad faces.
And then some discussion about what kinds of services or products they can provide for mommy and daddy. Top of their list:
- Loom band accessories
- Cleaning their own room
Unfortunately, I explained, we don’t really need those things. So I wouldn’t be prepared to pay any money for them. Unless they were exceptionally, amazingly good.
Items on my list of stuff I would be prepared to pay for included:
- Taking out rubbish
- cleaning other areas of the house
- Picking up rubbish in the garden
- Cleaning the car
But the girls don’t want to do those things. They’re not fun.
Lessons not learnt
As a result, they’ll probably stay poor in the immediate future. Perhaps when they discover a powerful why, they’ll figure out some way of solving some of our problems, to generate the desired revenue.
In the meantime, there’s a few lessons here. I’m not sure the girls picked up on them though:
- To create a lucrative business you need to solve a problem. It may be that the market doesn’t even know it has the problem yet, in which case you will need to convince them. But once you’ve done so, you need to solve it in order for your business to be successful.
- Building a business isn’t always fun. But you’re not in it to do all the not-fun stuff yourself. I never said to the girls for example, that they couldn’t outsource the work. As the consumer of their services, I just want my problem solved. I don’t care how it gets solved.
- If you’re going to try to sell an existing product into a crowded marketplace (dancing in their example above) – it needs to be super special. There needs to be some angle that sets it above and beyond what’s already out there. A unique selling point. Or superior service.
Their job, as budding entrepreneurs is to figure out some way of creating a happy customer. Mommy and I in this case – but hopeful a slightly larger demographic in the future. In order to do that, they need to stay focused on what constitutes value for their intended audience.
It’s all to easy for them, and for anyone starting out in business, to see the world as they’d like it be rather than as it is. Dancing versus taking out the trash, in this case.
How is it with your business? Are you solving an actual problem, or simply engaged in wishful thinking?
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