5 Things – Childhood Entrepreneur Style

video white papersGuess who got tagged again? I’m starting to feel like one of those chicks who keeps falling down while trying to escape the slasher in a horror flick (why don’t they just take off the heels?).

This time the tag comes from fellow cartoonist, speaker, and entrepreneur Jason Kotecki. I’m a huge fan of Jason’s work and the Kim and Jason comic, so it’s with honor that I accept his tag.

Jason’s focus is helping adults rediscover the secrets of childhood, to live a more fulfilling life. As you probably know, my focus is helping folks build a fulfilling business that has meaning, and find success while having fun. So for this 5 things post, I decided to put those two ideas together and present…

A Portrait of a Young Entrepreneur – 5 Businesses I Started as a Kid

1 – Reselling the stuff from comic book ads. When I was about 8, a lot of the kids in my neighborhood wanted to buy the cool stuff for sale in the back of comic books, but their parents wouldn’t let them. They had an allowance, but their parents just wouldn’t let them send away for it. So my friend Jorge and I hatched a brilliant plan. Since he was allowed to order stuff, we’d take orders from the other kids, add on a little overhead, place the orders, and split the profits. I even remember some supply and demand lessons. The spy camera was a hot item, so we marked it up more than less popular stuff.

2 – I liked to form membership-only clubs. We used a storage shed as a clubhouse and charged 25 cents to join. I’m proud to say, we were open to all. Boy or girl, any race or creed, even those who preferred King Kong over Godzilla were welcome – if you had your quarter. We’d change themes often to keep it interesting, and to justify new membership fees.

3 – A lot of kids were doing this – buying candy in bulk and selling them individually. Now and Laters were a hot item. You could buy a box from a local shop, and then sell the individual packages for a quarter each. I can’t remember how much a box was, but the profit margins were good.

4 – Get out of trouble services. Okay, this is on the shadier side, but I used to sell hall passes, forged tardy notes, and report card doctoring. I know, kind of black market goods here, but I’m older and wiser now. I do have to say just discovering that the chemicals in Aqua-Net hairspray would remove the carbon printed grades from the reports card copies sent home, was genius. Evil genius maybe, but still. All my work since then has been above board.

5 – For most of my life, I’ve sold my artwork in some way. As a kid, I did shirts, logos and “brand” stuff, surfboards, and of course a variety of comics. Something about funny looking pictures makes them a hot item.

Being able to do work you love and keep that childlike spirit is part of what makes up success – whether you’re 8 or 80. Even Warren Buffet says he “tap-dances to work everyday” – although not literally.

To me, if life’s not fun, then you’re doing it wrong.

Have a great weekend everyone – and Jason, thanks for the tag.


  1. Tony. I have something “childish” to share. I’ve often read of famous authors trying all types of drugs to reach that creative place to write great stuff. I had a writing block one day, but I didn’t feel like potentially turning into a junkie just to start a paragraph for Pete’s sake, so I looked around and saw a pair of yellow tinted protection goggles laying nearby (you know the kind you can get at Home Depot) and put them on. It was so weird, funny, cool, and different to look at my screen with this tint that my mind was instantly in another place. It reminded me of those old 3-d glasses we used to watch movies with.

    Of course, when my wife saw me wearing them and giggling to myself, she gave me that all too familiar “I married a child” look.

    You know what, I did feel childish, but the whole incident put me into a different frame of mine and the words flowed. Moral of the story: mix it up, no matter how childish.

  2. Tony – you are truly amazing. You and I have both been tagged 3 times, so I guess we can be teachers now and watch the other kids play. I didn’t tag anyone the second time (lunch was over) but I did this last time.

    So cool that you’ve been selling your work for some time. I have a project I need some help with. Can you send me a note when you have some time to discuss things?

  3. Tony – you and my 8 year old have something in common – the lemonade stand. She sold lemonade at a local Farmers Market with her Grandmother (who was selling plants) one summer and made a good chunk of change – enough to keep her going until the next summer.

    Just love the cartoons!!

  4. Buck – Awesome story. Believe me – I know that “I married a child” look. When I was telling my kids about Jason and what he did, my oldest said “so he’s a big kid, just like you.” I took it as a compliment.

    Phil – Technically I got tagged 4 times – 2 at once by Carolyn and Griffin. Not that I’m keeping count or anything 😉

    Pramod – Umm, thanks… I think. Is that interesting good or interesting bad?

    Char – Sounds like somebody’s got her mama’s entrepreneurial spirit – very cool.

  5. Your post brought back a lot of memories! I never liked Now & Laters but I ate them just same. Crazy kid peer pressure.

    Your opening paragraph cracked me up!! Hope you’ve hung up the heels now. 😉

  6. Hsien – Actually I preferred Sweet Tarts, so I didn’t feel tempted to sample the goods and cut into my profits 🙂

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