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Ask Dave

Guiding the Juggling

Diane has a great opportunity for teaching her son about running a small business.

QUESTION: Diane in Tennessee says her son is talented in juggling. He’s done it for family and friends, and at kids’ parties. She wants to know what direction to take him and possibly get him an agent. Dave tells why this should be a teaching tool rather than a long-term career goal.

Dave's ANSWER: There probably are a few people on the planet whose career at 50 years old is juggling, but not many. This is not his long-term career goal, so the purpose of him doing this is to learn about work ethic and running a small business, and to make some money for a 13-year-old. Let’s keep it at that; he doesn't need an agent.

This is him learning to do his marketing. Encourage him to study some business aspects and marketing things. How can he spread his wings and build a Twitter account or Facebook account or get a little social media following? Maybe you could post some videos of him doing this on YouTube. Fun and funny stuff that people might pick up and retweet or send to their friends. Teach him to market a little bit.

Also, let him keep a profit-and-loss statement on his business. His income minus his expenses associated with the business equals his net profit. As he’s doing this, we’re teaching him not only to run a business, but we get to teach him how to work and give, save and wisely spend his money.

Work on his people skills if he is working kids’ parties. Teach him how to talk to the moms and dads at the parties. Everybody there is a potential customer for him later. Have him learn how to work the room and expand, and then he walks away from this like I did when I cut grass–I was 12 years old, and I had 27 yards to cut.

A lot of stuff that I learned in the Tennessee summer heat pushing a lawnmower applies to me now that I’ve got 400 team members. That’s the kind of thing to think about–the work ethic and the sticking to it. If he doesn’t feel good and booked a party, he still needs to do it. If he wants to go on a trip with his friends, he can't if he booked a party that he needs to work. He can’t just walk off from his commitments.

These are the things you learn when you are doing this kind of thing at 13 years old. It's very good as a mom to encourage him to do that. But since juggling is not something he’s going to take into the next phases of his life, then you probably don’t need an agent. That defeats the purpose of him learning the pieces of business.