If you’re a parent and an entrepreneur, or a kid and an entrepreneur, or a parent of a kid-entrepreneur, or just want to be part of a fun conversation, this podcast with Steve Chou is one you’ll want to listen to. Steve and I have come together because our kids are both entrepreneurs, and we encourage our kids to do this.
My son, Keoni and I do a podcast and he has a website called All of Your Beeswax. And Steve’s daughter, Reena, who you’ll hear from, has a website called Kid in Charge where she inspires other kid entrepreneurs. They are like ten and eleven years old, so if they can do it—doesn’t it inspire you?
On this podcast, Steve and I talk about how our kids got started in their online businesses, where they came up with the ideas, and how we supported them. I mean, obviously, we’re parent entrepreneurs, so we have some insight. But does this mean we just come up with ideas for our kids? No, we dig in deep and get them to figure out the answers. What does this look like? It looks like a lot of great conversations and some experimenting too. There has to be an entry point, and then there will be challenges. Then kids lose interest in things, so how these moments are navigated is pretty key. And we also talk about Shark Tank.
Steve Chou, owner of MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, is an expert in e-commerce and running online stores. He’s been on my show before, and we’ve got similar philosophies when it comes to kids and our time.
- How our kids got started in entrepreneurship.
- How much influence we have (or don’t have) on their projects.
- About school programs that have inspired kids to learn about small businesses.
- How a parent can get their kid involved from scratch if there is no school program.
- Considerations about kids and their safety on YouTube, like, do you allow them to post, or do you turn off comments?
- How we deal with other issues of safety and social media, and dealing with haters.
- How our kids learned the benefit of hard work, the pain of order fulfillment, and what it actually takes to earn money.
- Ideas for motivating kids to stay focused and remain consistent.
- Where to learn about business licenses and taxes for kids.
SPI 407: How to Raise a Kid Entrepreneur
Pat Flynn: So my son is 10 years old now and he started a few businesses, mostly a result of projects that were happening at his school, but I’ve seen a massive change in how he handles problem solving, how he handles presenting, how he handles sharing ideas with others and getting people on board. And it’s been really amazing to see him grow just as a little person, a little mini me and I wanted to bring on a guest today who also has a child, a daughter who has started her own business as well. And her business is actually online and it’s selling and it’s e-commerce related. So I wanted to chat about kids and entrepreneurship. A lot of you may know that PatFlynn.com has recently sort of come out of the woodwork, shifted from a static page that was sort of just pointing back to Smart Passive Income.
Pat: And it’s now a platform where I’m going to be blogging and sharing videos about things that are important to me and the legacy I want to leave behind, which relates to kids. And that’s putting entrepreneurship in front of them, whether they, whether they become entrepreneurs or not, it’s just teaching them those skills. And so if you are a parent or perhaps a kid or maybe you know, if you don’t have a kid that’s okay. You can still learn a lot today. And I have none other than Steve Chou from My Wife Quit Her Job.com. He’s been on the show a couple of times before, once to talk about his email campaigns for his eCommerce business and in his digital courses. And he’s doing really well with that. But I wanted to come on today to see how he encourages his daughter, how he asks questions versus tells her what to do to encourage her to start a business.
Pat: And some of the things he has planned and some of the struggles that we both have as parent entrepreneurs and “parent entrepreneurs” because we are entrepreneurs, but also as parents who have potentially budding entrepreneurs in our families as well. Anyway, it’s just a fun conversation to start this to see what the reaction is like from you, so if you have kids or family and want to listen in, hopefully you’ll enjoy this and we’d love your feedback at the end. And this is the kind of stuff I’m going to be talking a lot more about over at PatFlynn.com; this, among other things like technology and gaming and essentially all the stuff that I am interested in that is not helping you start a business specifically, is going to live on PatFlynn.com but obviously SPI is still here. We’re still here to deliver content to you and help you through any business challenges you may have. So anyway, thank you for being a part of this. I appreciate you, and we’re going to get to Steve in just a minute, but first the intro, let’s go.
Announcer: Welcome to the Smart Passive Income podcast, where it’s all about working hard now so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, he thinks everyone with a message to share and an audience to build should start a podcast. Pat Flynn.
Pat Flynn: Hey, what’s up everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to session 407 of the Smart Passive Income podcast. I’m here to help you make more money, save more time and help more people too. And today we’re talking with Steve Chou from My Wife Quit Her Job.com. Talking about his daughter, my son, their business career so far at their very young age. And we’ll talk a little bit about what’s cool, what’s not cool, what are the challenges, all that good stuff. So sit back, relax, enjoy.
Reena Chou: Hi Team Flynn. My name is Reena and I’m the founder of Kid in Charge, a company that sells inspirational t-shirts and encourage kids to start their own businesses. I’ve been running this company for about six months now, and it’s been super fun and I hope to use this money to help fund my college education. Now I have a quick confession to make. When I first heard about Smart Passive Income, I was a little skeptical because it’s run by a Cal Berkeley grad. But after listening to a few episodes, I’m hooked. Kudos to Mr. Flynn for putting out a great podcast and blog despite where he went to college. Thank you for your support.
Pat: Hey Steve, thanks for sending that video over.
Steve Chou: Yeah, she came up with that all by herself.
Pat: ‘Cause she knows that, you know, I went to Berkeley, ’cause obviously you went to Stanford, and you’ve trained her well, I guess.
Steve: And don’t forget you did crash at my house, and we did decorate your guestroom in all Stanford gear, and she thought that was funny too.
Pat: Yeah, you guys are hilarious. And, and, and for those of you who don’t, who don’t know, and Steve’s been on the show before, we have this sort of fun little rivalry: Cal—that’s where I went to school—versus Stanford. And you know, we do Photoshop Wars with each other. I’ll probably come up with something that we could put in the show notes that will surprise you. We’ll, we’ll figure that out.
Steve: I’m sure you will. Last time I was holding a Cal finger.
Pat: This episode is not about us and our rivalry, it’s us—despite going to different schools—coming together to help and encourage kids to become entrepreneurs too, or at least explore that option and to get inspired to at least try something. Because your daughter Reena, she’s, she has her own business now. Like, tell us a little bit about it.
Steve: Yeah. She has a business selling entrepreneurship t-shirts for kids, and the goal is to get more kids into starting their own businesses.
Pat: And she’s how old?
Steve: She’s eleven.
Pat: Okay, eleven and very well spoken, I got to say. Just really, really awesome. Where did she get this idea? Like I’m curious. ‘Cause I know when whenever I talk to people who have kids and I’m like, “Yeah, you know, Keoni’s into entrepreneurship too.” I know that in their mind they’re like, Oh yeah, you probably maybe forced this on them or it’s, it’s of course because you’re an entrepreneur too, so there’s like a balance there. I’m curious, Reena and her getting started, how much of it was like your influence versus, you know, and your wife as well, who’s a an entrepreneur too or just her wanting to do it herself?
Steve: You know, we didn’t really force it on her, but just by nature of us running a blog and an eCommerce store, she naturally became interested. And after seeing me blog and podcast, she actually wanted to become a professional writer in the beginning. Oh wow. And I was like, Hey, you know, being a professional writer is tough. Just because you go to college and you graduate doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get a job doing what you want, and that sort of thing, and you really need to have something else on the side. And she replied, “Huh, okay, well then why should I go to college then?” And then I was like, you’re missing the point. You’re missing the point. So how do you respond to that? The point is, is the reason why, you know, your mom and dad had these businesses is to provide us with the flexibility so we can do stuff that we like, like hanging out with you all the time. And then at that point she was a little bit interested.
Pat: Okay. So that’s great. So she’s interested, how do you, or what did you do to help provide her the resources? Because obviously kids don’t have access to things that we do. What were some of the things that you offered her at the start?
Steve: Yeah, so there’s more to the story there on the interest level. So she’s a member of the Girl Scouts. I don’t know if your daughter is.
Pat: She’s not, but we definitely have a lot of Girl Scouts in the neighborhood because we have like 20 boxes of cookies in our, in our pantry right now.
Steve: Yeah. So you know, you have to sell cookies every year. And I remember it came time for her to sell cookies for the first time and my wife and I like, Oh man, we gotta go around the neighborhood now and we got to wait in front of supermarkets and that sort of thing. And so what we did was we suggested to my daughter that she put together these videos since she’s like, she likes creating these videos and we put them out on Facebook along with a link to buy these cookies online. And we ended up selling all of our cookies without having to schlep around in a wagon and that sort of thing. And she was like, wow, I put out this video and people were buying my cookies. And that’s kind of how she became interested in the process and the outcome. And so later the question was how’d she get into this and how, how do we get her into this?
Pat: Yeah, I mean you, you’re extending the story about her interest. And I’m curious about, okay, like when she got this interest, what did you give her to empower her to go even further?
Steve: Is this a fortuitous series of events that happened. So our school decided to have a small business fair for the very first time and my wife decided to volunteer heavily on it. So my wife was responsible a lot for this first business fair. And so it actually forced my daughter, she wanted to participate obviously, and it forced her to kind of think about what she wanted to sell. And as part of the small business fair, parents are technically not supposed to help. They’re not really supposed to provide a lot of funding for this thing. And so whatever the kids want to make or whatever funding they have, they’re supposed to pay their parents back with the proceeds. And so it was this fair that kinda got her started thinking about it, this whole thing. And of course, you know when you’re a kid and you have no money, you have to think about ideas that you can do or create yourself without investing a lot of money into it. So how did we empower her? Well, we took her to Michael’s and we said, Hey, what do you think your kids would want to buy that you could actually make yourself? And that’s when she became, that’s when she came with the idea for tee shirts.
Pat: I like that. You kept asking your questions. You weren’t like coming up with ideas for her, but you were just asking questions, and that’s something that works really well with our kids at home. So whenever they have an interest we just kind of dig in as deep as we can to get them to figure out the answers because you know, I have some ideas and I, I know that I could help out, but it doesn’t make any sense for me to just start a business and then put his name on it. Right.
Steve: How did Keoni come up with pins?
Pat: Yeah, so his pins were—so, very similarly: The school that he attends also did a sort of business fair type of thing and they’ve done it for three years now. The first year he was involved with, they had to make the things similar to that to your daughter. The second year, and this is where the pins came from, they were experimenting with what it might be like to design something and then have somebody manufacture it. And pins was like one of the ideas versus a few other things. And that turned out to be kind of a disaster, not because the kids were at fault, but mostly because, as we know in manufacturing, people say things are going to be delivered on time and then they’re not. That was a problem, but a big lesson learned. And then the next year they went back to things that they made. But the big thing was just having him be interested in it no matter what. Because entrepreneurship can be for everybody in my opinion. And it can be done in a way where everybody can have joy behind it. And so for your daughter, when she was doing these t-shirts, I mean she, she just like what did she buy initially?
Pat: Yeah. So she bought these blank t-shirts from Michaels. They were like $2 and 50 cents. And then she asked mom, you know, how can I put my own designs on this? ‘Cause she’s actually a very artistic person. She loves to draw. She loves to write totally left brained, which I don’t know where she got that from, but it’s great because it allows her to express her creativity, and the teacher was just a medium for it.
Pat: Okay. And so you get the tee shirts, she’s drawn on them and painting them. How does this turn into a real business from there?
Steve: So the small business fair was the first entry point, right? So she started creating her tee-shirts with these slogans. And these are just sayings that I guess she’s been reading my blog or she’s been reading my Instagram and there’s a lot of these quotes that she really liked. And so she kind of intermixed some of her own quotes and her own spins on these quotes along with these little graphics that she designed. And mom helped her out. So she would draw these designs and we’ve kind of digitize them in this program and they would get cut out on this machine and then we would iron on these t-shirts for them.
Pat: Gotcha. I think they sell those machines to you. At Michael’s or, or other sort of places, right. Where, where you can get fabric printed and things.
Steve: So yeah, we just happen to have the equipment actually, you know, we’re in that industry. Yeah.
Pat: Right, right. Okay. So, so that’s great. And what were some of the challenges that she had when she was getting started? Were there any phases where she’s just like, ah, I don’t know if I want to do this anymore and if so, how do you encourage a kid to keep going when, you know, when a kid, kids, especially today, they’re kind of all over the place where they get interested in something for a hot minute and then they move on to something else. Um, how did you keep her interest or get it back to what she was, what she started if she was sort of not feeling it for a while.
Steve: Yeah, absolutely. So what was funny about this whole story is we had all these t-shirts ready to go for the small business fair, which is a, which is a live event where the parents and a lot of kids, they go and they go shopping essentially. And I remember when we first, when she first launched her booth and it was her and her little brother, they were just sitting in chairs behind their booth and no one was buying any t-shirts. And so I think like 30, 40 minutes went by and they didn’t have a single sale. And I remember they ran over to us and they’re like, Hey, no one’s buying any t-shirts. I was like, Hey, where’s the money box? You didn’t take the money box, you let the money box wide open. They’re like, Ah. And so they went back and get the money and got the money box and they came back and said, Hey, the tee shirts aren’t selling.
Steve: And I was like, okay, well let me go watch you guys in action and see what’s going on. And so I watched them and they were just sitting behind the booth doing nothing with the tee shirts displayed.
Pat: They were just waiting.
Steve: They were just waiting. It’s almost like when you launch an online store website and you expect sales to come in without you doing anything. Right?
Steve: And so I told them, Hey, you got to get up and you actually have to sell these t-shirts, first of all, never sit in your chair. And I took away the chair. And so they, they stood the entire time and they started, you know, engaging with the customers and they made their first sale and they were really, really excited about that. I think they gave the wrong change though, but that’s beside the point.
Steve: And then I was like, okay, great. You made your first sale, but we made all these t-shirts and what do you think that you can do to improve the sales process? And they were like, well, I could tell them that we made the shirts by hand. And I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s go with that. Let’s go with that. How did you make the t-shirts? What is the process by which you made these tee shirts? How did you come up with the ideas? What is the history behind each shirt? And so they came up with these scripts, so to speak, about these stories that they could tell about the tee shirts. And instead of just going, Hey, come buy some t-shirts. We designed these, they actually had a story behind each one and that caused a lot more sales to happen.
Pat: That’s really cool. So what, what was the big lesson there for her, you think in that moment—you sort of guiding her and coaching her through that moment?
Steve: I think she, I was trying to instill in her that it’s less about the product than about the story behind the product or how you portray your products.
Pat: Awesome. I have a story to tell related to, uh, and this is actually outside of the businesses my son made for school. This is actually something that happened and I told this story in the podcast that we have together, my son and I, All of Your Beeswax, this was actually the first episode in season one, but I’ll tell it again in case people didn’t hear that. And, and, and I don’t know if you even heard the story, Steve, but there was a big hurricane that went through Port Aransas, Texas a couple of years ago. And at school they actually had a FaceTime with somebody who was there on the grounds of, of the, just all the rubble and was sharing with people, uh, who were in the class like how they get through big disasters like that and things that kept people safe during it and things that they can improve on.
Pat: And so they did a lot of fun, sort of like sciency-related things related to that. They built cities out of Legos and then they sort of just brought these giant fans in and bunch of buckets of water and just like sprayed the whole city that they made and just would see what would, what would stay up and what wouldn’t. So they were teaching a little bit of science behind that, but they were also teaching about business at the same time because what they wanted to do was create a fundraiser to help provide food and water to the communities there. And so my son came home and he was just so excited. Like, he always does. This is why this podcast exists ’cause he just comes home with all these new ideas. And he was just like, Oh my gosh, we have to raise money for Port Aransas, Texas.
Pat: We’re doing this fundraiser at school. And he was telling me about it and he was like, I want to do something here at home. You know, maybe we could set up, maybe we could do something. And I was like, okay, well come up with some ideas and let me know how it goes. And then he goes off into the garage and in our, in our garage we have this thing called the makery, the makery. This is my wife’s idea, is just like a place with all these scraps, cardboard boxes, paper, glue, scissors, rulers, everything you can imagine that you could just do whatever with. And he goes in there and he’s in the garage for 20 minutes and his sister’s in there with him and we’re just like, okay, this is interesting. I don’t know what’s going to go, what’s going to go down. And then all of a sudden he comes out of the garage and he just has this giant box with him with all this stuff inside.
Pat: And he and his sister are just marching out onto the front door, out the front door, and they didn’t say a word to us. And my wife and I are like, what is going on? This stuff belongs in the makery, like it doesn’t belong outside, what’s going on? So we peek through the window and they’re setting up a little booth. I’m like, Oh this is interesting. So after a couple of minutes they have all this material laid out on a makeshift table out of the big box that they had. And they start yelling at like in our neighborhood, “Fundraiser for Port Aransas, Texas! Make a mask for $5 custom mask for $5 here to support Port Aransas, Texas.” And both my daughter, who was five at the time, and my son, who was eight at the time, were just yelling; and I was like, Oh wow, that’s incredible.
Pat: Like this is cool. They have the courage to go out there. I wouldn’t have had the courage to like start yelling and putting myself out there, but they knew it was for a cause. Right. They knew it was a bigger purpose than just selling the masks. So they were out there and then my wife and I are like looking at each other and we live on a not so busy street, so we’re just like, Oh man, this is going to be tough for them because they put on all this hard work. They there, they’re trying to sell these masks, but we literally get no foot traffic at all. There’s nothing. So I’m like, my wife and I were like, okay, this’ll be a really good lesson for, you know, location, location, location, location. Maybe we can do this, but you know, after school where there’s traffic and all this stuff.
Pat: But we literally live on a very quiet street. So we go back into the living room. We’re just waiting for them to come in because we want them to figure it out themselves. And then a half hour goes by. We’re just like, wow, they can’t, they couldn’t have been out there for like an hour doing this with, with, with nothing. So we go out and peek through the window again, and there’s these two older kids who are gluing stuff to a mask and in a little jar I see like $15 and I’m just like, Holy crap. They actually got customers and it was these two kids who live on the end of the block who were just skateboarding by who, I mean they were so sweet and wanting to help out. And they built some masks and uh, I share that story online and then a number of, of friends and colleagues online saw that and they donated over 100 bucks and a few more people came on the street.
Pat: Those, those kids told a couple of other kids and they had this crowd of about five to 10 kids at one point and they made over a hundred bucks. And I was just like, dude, this is crazy. And I was like crying. I was like, Oh my gosh, I’m so inspired. And it was a, it was a big lesson learned that, uh, even from my end, just like, you know, don’t, don’t discount the power of what it’s like to help and serve others because it was really the message of fundraising that, that drew people in.
Steve: I just had to put a plug for All the Beeswax. I actually listened to almost the entire season prior to this in preparation for this. And I just had to say that I love the opening and the closing of that podcast. It’s awesome.
Pat: But the, the song, the song, yeah. Thank you. A big shout out to Mike and Isabella from Music Radio Creative for helping to produce that. But yeah, I mean, it’s super fun and I think like getting kids involved in entrepreneurship is really important. I mean, at what age did you get involved with starting your own business?
Steve: Man, I started really late, so I started what, 2006 whenever that was. Yeah. So I was still pretty old.
Pat: Yeah. Same with me. I mean—2008 for me, after I got laid off and I only wish I started sooner. And I think, you know, a lot of parents might be listening to this and even if you’re not a parent, but you know that like, Hey, if a kid can do it, I can do it too. Hopefully it inspires you to at least open up these doors to your child being an entrepreneur. Why do you think kids should learn the skills of entrepreneurship at an early age? Besides just like, you know, creating something that makes money and it gives you freedom later in life?
Steve: I think it’s really to open their eyes that they can actually pursue something that they actually want to do as opposed to follow, follow the path of, I guess, a traditional Asian—I don’t want to say it, but yeah, traditional Asian—like being an engineer, lawyer, doctor. All of which my friends, they’re not happy with their jobs, and the goal is you can take something that you really enjoy doing. Like my daughter for example, she loves drawing. She loves writing and actually do something with those skills that she really enjoys and wants actually to do in the long term.
Pat: I agree with that. I mean 100%. I also think it’s the idea that teaching kids at a young age that you can create something out of nothing, right? You can create something totally new or take something that already exists and make it better to help others. And for me, the like the big thing is, Hey, you can get rewarded for helping other people, you know, teaching, teaching the kids. I always ask my son, he gets tired of me ’cause I ask him all the time, I go, tell me what a business really does. And he goes, “Dad, a business, helps people.” So it’s like in his brain now, which is good, but he’s learning lessons and he’s trying new things. The latest business that he created at that school for the last fair was, and their big mission in, in, in this go around was to put some sort of, uh, charitable sort of, uh, effort behind the product that they created.
Pat: So there was a lot of businesses that that were created by kids in, in, in the second and third grade who put some sort of like, you know, we’ll donate some proceeds to this particular foundation. But my son and his team, they created a really epic business. It was called Up Vinyl and it was a business that kind of, you know those like old soccer banners, if you’ve ever like taking kids to soccer, there’s like a banner with a team name and stuff and like that never gets used again. Or at events where there’s banners with the product names on them and those get recycled and thrown away. Taking those, cutting them up and turning them into shopping bags. So you know, there’s that recycling element on it and they were selling them for $10 to $15 even the bigger ones up to $25 and they completely sold out, which was just ridiculous.
Pat: And then they paid back their investors, which takes me to the big thing. I don’t know how they do it at the school that your daughter’s at. But the way that they do it at, at, at my kid’s school is they have every kid come up with an idea to solve a problem of some kind. And then they have each of the kids pitch their idea to a panel of judges just like Shark Tank. They actually play the Shark Tank music. I know this because I was a judge last year, um, for a certain group of students, not my kid, but and then not all the kids get in. And that to me initially was like, Oh my gosh, like isn’t that gonna like upset some kids? But at the same time that’s like, it’s like real life. Right?
Steve: So at our school it wasn’t like that. It was just a fair, but at this new school that my daughter is in, they are actually having a Shark Tank-like competition. I’m actually, I actually volunteered to be one of the judges. It actually hasn’t happened yet, but I’m really excited about it.
Pat: Watch out for, for Steve.
Steve: I have a quick story to add about the charitable contributions thing. What’s funny is, and I didn’t really influence my daughter to do this, but when she made her first dollars selling tee shirts from Kid in Charge, she actually donated a large portion of that over to war veterans. And I was very touched by that. And where did she get that idea? She got that idea because I think for her girl scout promotion, you’re supposed to donate some of the proceeds from your cookie sales to an organization. But, and she had donated to the war veterans before and then so when she started her own business, she wanted to make a donation again.
Pat: Wow, that’s, that’s really great. Yeah. Going back to what we were talking about in terms of like the Shark Tank style and, and that’s actually real life, right? Like not all of your ideas are going to go through and you know, there’s, there’s people who you don’t know who you’re going to have to present your ideas to. I mean this happens whether you have a nine to five job or not or you’re an entrepreneur. How do you feel as a parent, like putting your kid in that situation is where you know they could fail or they could not go through to the next round?
Steve: I think it just depends on the kid. For me, I’m all for it ’cause I think my kids are a little cocky. I don’t know how your kids are, but they could use a little bit of humility. So I’m all for it. Like if they don’t pass then they’ll realize, Hey they can’t, you know, they need to work harder the next time.
Pat: How would you, if they were in that situation, if she were to pitch another a, a new idea for business or her current one and then it doesn’t get funded or it doesn’t go through, how do you help her as a, parent through that? Because that, that’s tough. I mean especially for a kid where often we just get handed everything, you know, real life kinda hurts sometimes. How might you as a parent help her through that?
Steve: I would tell her to continue with it despite what the judges say. I mean there’s all these companies on Shark Tank where they didn’t get funding and they are now very successful. So just because a panel of judges don’t believe that your company should pass on, it doesn’t mean you should stop doing it. You should continue with it and see where it goes.
Pat: Do you guys watch Shark Tank together?
Steve: We do.
Pat: How involved does she get into like the different pitches and stuff? ’cause my, my son will sometimes go, you know, Oh they should say this but they’re not, I don’t know why they’re not saying this. And you know he’s asking questions about the numbers, which is a little beyond him right now in terms of investments and stuff. But like what are those conversations like with your daughter while watching Shark Tank?
Steve: I think with my daughter, I think it sounds like your son is kind of precocious, so my daughter is just interested in the products and the services and so we talk about the cool ideas that are presented. Less so, I would say, about the business. And the funding aspects of it.
Pat: Okay, cool. So that’s cool. So she’s, she’s involved with the products and you know, Scrub Daddy was a big one actually. The kids at our school had a FaceTime with the founder of Scrub Daddy.
Steve: Oh that’s awesome.
Pat: Leading up to their Shark Tank-style situation, which is, which is really neat and I just love to see entrepreneurs giving back to entrepreneurs, especially helping kids.
Steve: So does your son ask you about the numbers and how to tweak the pitch and that sort of thing?
Pat: He asks me what the numbers mean. He has yet to ask me specifically how they can be related to what he’s doing, specifically. But he does know his numbers in terms of you know, cost per goods sold and profit and expenses and those kinds of things, which is good. I mean, I didn’t even know those things until literally like college when I was forced to, right? So I think, I think it’s great that we’re giving our kids experiences like this. How might a parent listening to this get their kids involved sort of from scratch when they don’t have a school who has the ability to create like a market fair or something like that?
Steve: Yeah, that’s a really good question and this is something that I actually write about a lot in the blog, but I would encourage them to, to think about what they’re really good at or something that they’re really interested in. And I would just convince them to put out content of any sort, whether it be—probably the easiest way is to maybe create videos or if they can write or put out a podcast, just any sort of content—that allows them to just document everything and just see where it goes from there.
Pat: How do you feel about video for kids? I know that and your daughter sent me this wonderful video. She’s very well poised and well-spoken on, on video and whether a kid is well-spoken or not, I mean YouTube is where videos go and where they’re found, and it’s a dangerous place.
Steve: It is. I don’t know how you feel about this. And it, it took me a long time to convince my wife, you know, to allow Reena actually put out videos. I think, in this day and age, it’s kind of inevitable, right? So I don’t, does your kid have a phone yet?
Pat: Not yet. We’re getting close, I think. And it scares me.
Steve: It scares me too, but I think it’s a good way, like if you have them put out content now, it’s a good chance to educate them on what is okay and what is not okay to put out on the web. And so it kind of prepares them for this huge influx of social media that is going to come and how to manage it going forward.
Pat: So you’re not saying no phone or don’t get a Twitter account or Facebook account or Instagram. It’s more about managing that up front to learn how it can sort of be a part of your life but not take over.
Steve: I mean, don’t get me wrong, they don’t have access to social media where they can post whatever they want, but as long as we’re kind of managing the process of what goes online and then at the same time telling them what is okay to put online and what is not okay to put online, it kind of gradually educates them for when the time comes and they have the full freedom to do whatever they want. They know how to act.
Pat: I love that. So there’s an app called Remind, I don’t know if you’ve heard of this. They use it at, at my kid’s school, and I know a lot of other schools are using this as well. I think I even heard, it might’ve been on How I Built This or, or another podcast, but it’s a school communication app, and I love it because what’s really cool is the teachers and the kids sort of keep parents updated in a social feed-like situation. So I can, I can know what’s going on at school, and I don’t have to have my kids come home and go, so what’d you do today? I kind of already saw what happened, so I can ask, sort of follow up questions about that and we can just engage in conversation about what they’re already doing. And it’s also seemingly a great way to start training kids on content creation as well because it forces them to, you know, take images and share those images, but also write a caption and, you know, just saying like, “dog” is not going to be enough. So you have to kind of be creative and figure it out along the way. Have you, have you seen Remind or heard of it before?
Steve: No, I haven’t actually. I’m going to go, definitely go check it out after this.
Pat: Yeah. I think the teacher has to sort of lead the charge on that to allow for parents with a special activation code to get access to the classroom’s feed for example. And then the kids use their iPads or, or, or devices that they have available to themselves to share their projects with everybody or, you know, post a video just to their classroom. And, and, and um, they can tag people just like on social media too. It’s, it’s kinda cool. So I would imagine that, you know, kids who are using this are a little bit more prepared for content creation in the future, especially on social feeds. But I agree. I think, I think the best way to start is just to kind of create content to get familiar with with how that all works. Would you allow for comments on, on places like YouTube or would you disable them as a parent?
Steve: So right now, so Reena has a YouTube channel right now for the business, and comments are turned on, although I don’t think that she knows how to check them. But that’s a good point. I actually didn’t even think about that in the beginning.
Pat: Yeah. Keoni has a YouTube channel as well, and he has actually a couple of really good videos that are performing really well. That was one where we sort of built this carnival game together. We just cut circles out of a piece of cardboard and he throws like a Wiffle ball and it kind of rolls back to you automatically and you know has like points and like kinda like Skee ball. And that video has over 10,000 views, which is really cool. And he gets excited seeing those numbers climb, right. And I have to teach him, you know, it’s not just about how many views, but like let’s, you know, we’re helping people build and get inspired and all that stuff. So I like, I’m basically telling my younger self that, because I was so about the numbers before and it was only about the numbers and I know it’s much more than that.
Pat: So teaching him those lessons early on is really important. But there was a comment, and I, I had a podcast episode about this, where somebody left a comment that said, kill yourself.
Steve: To a kid?
Pat: To a kid. And I dunno who left that comment or what age that person was or what they were thinking. You know, we taught Keoni early on that YouTube especially, but just comments in general from others online, they often, the hurtful comments are coming because often those people are hurting themselves, right? And so we taught them that. We warned them about that he still wanted to do the YouTube channel. That was his decision. We felt he was old enough. And when he got that comment, we asked him, well how does this make you feel? And he said, I hope this person is okay. And that was a huge big moment for us because I think even a lot of adults wouldn’t have been able to handle it that well and start empathizing with that person versus just getting angry or taking the video down because they were just, you know, upset or, or, or whatever.
Pat: And then he goes, “Okay, can we, you tell me how to delete this comment” and, and, and so we deleted it and all the, although rest of the comments are great. And you know, it was another big lesson was like, Hey look at all these amazing comments you got. Don’t let that one person who’s just having a bad day ruin everything. ‘Cause look at all these people who are saying, great job, good job building that, that looks like fun. And just again, being there as a guide for him I think is, is really important. That’s, that’s kinda how what you’re doing too. So I’d love to ask for Reena, like, okay, the, the, the fair happened, she’s selling t-shirts. Her and her brother made it happen. Now this business is continuing. This is something that the businesses that my son has run are not, except for the pin one, the pin one still up. But how have you continued this outside of school? And is it literally like, like a Shopify account and like what are some of the mechanics there?
Steve: Yeah, so it’s a WooCommerce WordPress site. And so it costs no money to maintain at all because the credit card processing is free. And initially the kids were making their own t-shirts by hand. So whenever an order came in, we would go out and we’d get the tee shirts, we’d cut out the vinyl and they would press the shirts by hand. But there was one night when they had homework and we had orders come in. And, uh, we kind of had this policy where we’d try to ship ’em out as soon as we can. And we’re like, Oh man, we’ve got to go to Michael’s, we’ve got to get all the equipment. And so we’ve since moved over to a drop ship model, but we wanted the kids to make everything ’cause we wanted to make them feel the pain of order fulfillment and what it takes to actually make money. And the funny story here is like one time we were out and I didn’t have any cash on me and we were at this Asian place, it was cash only and I was like, “Hey, uh, I’m sorry I don’t have any money, Reena.” She’s like, well can you just go to the bank and get some more? After that point I was like, okay, you’re learning how to make your own money. And so that was kind of why we made them do the manual process in the beginning.
Pat: Yeah, I think that’s really smart. And you know, we, we encourage the same thing, like get in the weeds, actually do the work yourself. Not that it’s something that you always have to do, but just for like, and, and I don’t know if it’s, it’s the same reason, but let me know. Just, I want you to appreciate all that has to happen in order for business to be done. You know, I want you to understand the process, so that when potentially you do hire somebody in the future or you automate it, you know still what’s supposed to happen, but you can appreciate the people that work for you or you can appreciate the automation.
Steve: Absolutely. In response to the second part of your question about maintaining the business during school, uh, one thing I’m trying to teach them is consistency. You have to just maintain a certain pace that you can maintain for a long period of time. And when we first started the t-shirt business together, it was the summer and they had all this free time in the world, but once school started, the business started taking a back seat. And so I’ve been trying to get them to establish some sort of routine like, Hey, we film a video on this day or we designed a new teacher on this day trying to get them back on track. It’s been a little bit of struggle to be honest with you since Reena just started a new school, but we are getting back on track and so that’s just something I’m trying to do. Establish a routine.
Pat: How do you frame that? How do you encourage that? Especially, I mean, you know, I know she’s in a new school, but I mean even even if you know just a regular kid is going to have so many different interests and you know, starting the business is the funnest part, I mean we all know this, running it and maintaining it is the difficult part. So how do you get a kid to stay focused and remain consistent?
Steve: I think it just depends on the kid and how they are motivated. So my daughter, like whenever an order comes in, she gets happy about the money because then she can use that money to go buy. Like, she’s, she likes candy a lot. And so we’re like, Hey, well, if no orders are coming in and you’re not working the business, well I guess you’re not going to be having any more candy.
Pat: And you don’t like give her candy outside of the business. Like she has to earn it.
Steve: We do a little bit, but usually she uses her own money to buy it.
Pat: Yeah. That’s cool. I like that.
Steve: Yeah. So it just depends on what buttons you can push up. I’m sure every kid is different. What motivates Keoni to maintain his business?
Pat: Let me think about this. I think he loves like me, the recognition for helping people. Like I am a three in the Enneagram. I don’t know if you, we discussed this actually.
Steve: We did, yes, yes. I think I was at three, right?
Pat: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So threes are very much motivated by the value that they are, you know, instilling into others and the recognition for that value. Like, I, I have value and I, I am fulfilled when somebody tells me that I’m able to help them. Right. It’s that recognition. And, uh, the better, the better and more I could do that, the, the more fulfilled I am. And I think he’s very much the same way. So he, he, he definitely steps up and goes beyond the norm in terms of, you know, service of others and helping, uh, whether it’s around the house or in the businesses that he’s doing and teams that he’s a part of. Um, so it’s definitely that, but I think that at this point as well, he’s definitely motivated by money too. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I mean, what, what would you say to parents who were like, Oh, I dunno if it’s like doing this just for the money or is that a bad lesson at this age?
Steve: I mean, ultimately it’s, it’s not about the money. So whenever an order comes in, she just gets really, really happy, and I don’t even think she thinks about the money at that point. She just, the reward is the results. And, and just knowing that the fruits of her labor has resulted in something is what makes her happy. Like this thing is actually working. Exactly. And she’s still amazed that someone randomly out there who you don’t know is placing an order and giving you money. Like it took me like thirty-something years to experience that feeling and she gets to experience it at age eleven.
Pat: That’s super rewarding. How are you helping her grow her business? Or how is she growing the business? So it’s online, like where’s traffic coming from? How, how is this even working? How are strangers, random people on the internet finding it?
Steve: Yeah, so right now it is actually a combination of My Wife Quit Her Job as well as her YouTube channel. So the strategy here is whenever she puts out a new t-shirt design, she creates a YouTube video that describes how she came up with the idea for that t-shirt design. And then also on the YouTube channel. She’s been documenting her journey. So there’s videos there on the small business fair, the mistakes that she made, the assumptions, how she makes sales, why we decided to move to a drop ship model. Kind of like what I’ve done with my wife quit her job.com kind of documenting my journey. She’s documenting her journey except on YouTube. So the way I’ve been helping with that has been mainly through, you know, operating the camera really. And I have a VA who edits the videos so she can focus on just the t-shirt designs and what she wants to say on the videos.
Pat: Okay. So she can just run the business and not worry about the documentation process, but, but you’re supporting her with that. That’s cool.
Steve: Yeah. So in terms of actually running the business, because we’ve moved to a drop ship model, there’s less management on that end, which allows her to just kind of focus on the more creative aspects of the business, which is what she actually enjoys doing.
Pat: Yeah, that’s great. I mean, she’s already, she’s already got you working for her already.
Steve: Yeah, I mean I’ve, I have my own incentives too, so, yeah, sure.
Pat: Now I know you’re in California and I’m in California and I’m not even exactly sure for kids who want to create a business what the rules are. Do you know or have done any research on like, you know, setting up a business and what age you have to have and you know, separate checking accounts. Like, so logistically I’m just trying to figure out to help people who are listening, how am I going to do this? I know that for example, I think it’s in Portland or it could be, no, I think it’s Ohio. I’m trying to remember, but I was traveling somewhere recently where somebody was telling me that the, the governor was basically like, Hey, we want to encourage kids to be entrepreneurs. So literally if you’re under this age, you can create a lemonade stand. You can do whatever you want. Just just go out there and experience it.
Pat: You’re not going to be held liable. You’re not going to, you know, you don’t have to sign any documents. You don’t have to do anything. Like go out and do it. And I thought, I thought that was the coolest thing. Like how incredible that somebody higher up like that is encouraging the younger kids in, in that state to do that. I think that’s how it should be everywhere. But I also know there’s, you know, we’ve heard stories of, you know, somebody setting up a lemonade stand and then you know, somebody makes a call and then the police come and they, they tear it down. It’s like how sad is that?
Steve: Well, so I wouldn’t be surprised if California would tax little kids. I dunno. I wouldn’t be surprised. We’ve shielded obviously our kids away from all those aspects of it right now. The way we do it is we already have an eCommerce store and so we already have the sellers’ permits and all that stuff. So we’re kind of running everything above board. I do know that at least in California and a lot of states, there are certain minimums that if you don’t cross those thresholds, then it’s just kind of like casual money. Like selling on eBay for example. So as long as you don’t cross those thresholds, I think they’re pretty low. However, I mean low meaning like if your kid would to exceed the thresholds, I’m sure they’d be thrilled. Like they aren’t low for a kid standards, but for adults standards, they’re low, so…
Pat: Right. I don’t know what the, what the number is in Cali, it might be like, you know, $800 or something, right? Like if you make less than $800 it’s like, Hey, no worries.
Steve: But realistically, and I don’t want to say that you’re above the law or anything, but realistically I don’t think a government would be low enough to go after like a little kid. And that’s just my gut feeling like in the beginning at least. But once you start making serious money, I think you have to go above board.
Pat: Yeah. I think, you know, a good place to research might be at the SBA small business association. Obviously there’s Google and you know, your, your own state’s websites to sort of ask around and you could probably make some calls as well just to make sure you’re compliant. I mean, there’s obvious things, right? Like if you wanted to set up like a, you know, you’re a kid and you love music, you’re going to set up your DJ tables right outside, uh, in your neighborhood. But then like you’re blasting music after 10:00 PM. I mean there’s, there’s some obvious things that just won’t work.
Steve: Oh yeah, I was thinking more of the online space, but yeah, I mean technically it’s against the law, like you need a seller’s permit to sell at all, but I think, you know, in the beginning at least you shouldn’t let that step prevent you from getting started. And depending on what you’re going to be selling to from a risk perspective, I don’t know if like getting an LLC and spending all that money and doing all that stuff up front is necessary. I don’t know how you feel about that.
Pat: Yeah, it’s a tough one. I’d love to hear what the audience thinks. If you wanted to sort of, uh, have this conversation on either Instagram or Twitter or wherever you might see this. This is episode . . . let’s see what episode this is. This is episode 407. So #SPI407 if you want to chat about this. But you know, I’d just love your general thoughts about this episode and encouraging kids to be entrepreneurs. I strongly believe all kids should be taught entrepreneurship. I am in the camp of let’s teach them those skills because whether they become entrepreneurs or not, I mean these are skills for life, for learning how to deal with failure, learning how to learn from mistakes, learning how to present in front of people. I mean this stuff is useful, nine to five or entrepreneur or and everything in between. And so, I mean my long term goals, Steve, are to have entrepreneurship be just a part of school curriculum, like the stuff that your school is doing and that my school is doing just that should be in every school because these lessons are just forever ingrained in kids and this is the right age to start, I think.
Steve: No, absolutely. I mean the skills that you gain from even starting this will, if anything, give you confidence that in the event that anything bad happens with your job or whatnot going forward. Even when you graduate from college, you have something to fall back on and you don’t have to be dependent on anybody else. So my, my wife and I, we had this joke like we hope this business does well, but we hope it doesn’t do so well that the kids actually don’t want to go to college anymore. Uh, which is always the risk. But um, yeah, I mean they’ve been having a blast with it so far.
Pat: That’s really cool. Well, congrats to you and your wife and to Reena for her success so far and I wish her the best. I would love if you, you’d be down, maybe it’d be fun to get Keoni and her on an episode in the future just to kind of get into their brains a little bit because I mean everybody hears listening to the parents and nobody cares about the parents right now we want to know what the kids are up to. Right. So that might be fun and interesting to, to kind of get inspiration from them one day. Would you be down for that? You think she’d be okay with that?
Steve: She’d be down to it down with that. I’ll ask her and—is Keoni single right now? Is he seeing anyone right now?
Pat: Okay. We’ll talk about . . . anyway. That’d be funny. She’s, she’s older than him though.
Steve: Oh she is. That’s true.
Pat: Yeah. But so April’s older than me, so I guess.
Steve: That’s true. Yeah.
Pat: The apple does not fall far anyway. Okay dude, this has been really fun. Thanks for the chat. And just to talk this through, you know, I love connecting with other parents especially who have kids who are interested in entrepreneurship. It’s just so exciting to me and I just want to continue to dig deeper. Hopefully we can chat with Reena one day and, and yeah, I think that’d be fun.
Steve: Yeah, man. Let’s set it up.
Pat: So before you go, how’s business on your end? You’ve been on the show before. A lot of people know you from My Wife Quit Her Job and your eCommerce business. How’s business going for, for daddy today?
Pat: Business is going well for daddy. Daddy and ma—are we still on recording?
Pat: We are recording, and it’s weird that you’re saying daddy, so let’s stop with that.
Steve: Let’s stop with that. Yeah.
Pat: That was my bad. I promise to never call you daddy again.
Steve: So the businesses are going well. And what’s funny is, I’m at a stage now where we make enough money, like we don’t spend that much money and we make a lot more than we make. And so my wife and I, we’ve kind of come to this pact where we’re just going to start enjoying what we have. And so we’re no longer like pedal the metal on anything. We just like—I’m taking on projects that I just want to work on now as opposed to things. . . whereas in the past I might pursue a project just strictly for the money. So we’re at a good point.
Pat: That’s amazing that, that’s huge. How do you, how do you do that? Because growth is like what everybody wants, right? Which means more, more, more.
Steve: It is tough and okay, so this is kind of what happened two years ago is when we kind of made this decision. I got injured and I was just kinda, I was having like a midlife crisis. We would set these goals for our business and these are just kind of arbitrary growth goals and we’d hit them and we’d be happy for like maybe a week and then the following year we’d want to top those goals. And it just became really, really stressful. I started doing things out of the ordinary things just so we could hit our goals at the expense of our health and at the expense of my wife’s mental health, really. It just got really stressful and we were like, Hey, why are we doing this? We’re doing this so we could spend more time with family and we’re not doing this to stress ourselves out. So why are we setting these aggressive goals when we don’t actually even need the money? For me it was a big ego check. I like, you know, growing as fast as I can, but I also like a happy wife.
Pat: Yes, happy wife, happy life.
Steve: Happy wife, happy life. And we sat down and we talked about this and you know, I totally agreed with her like, what are we doing with that? We don’t even spend that much money, so why not spend more time on projects that I love. Like for example, my, my daughter’s business or helping my son or volunteering at the school or becoming a judge at the schools entrepreneurship fair. Stuff like that.
Pat: Yeah. That’s great. That’s a great update. Thank you Steve. I appreciate that. I’d love to dig into that a little bit more, but let’s connect again soon and we’ll bring the kids on and we’ll just have a, have a chat and have some fun. Thanks again for coming on and sharing kind of how you and your wife, uh, and your kids kind of do things over there and can’t wait to learn more and perhaps meet her one day.
Steve: Cool. Thanks for having me.
Pat: All right. I hope you enjoyed that interview with Steve. Hopefully Steve and I can get our kids on the show at some point to chat with each other just strictly business, right? Uh, and then also just have us poke holes and ask questions to see, Hey, like what’s going in your brain? How are you thinking about this? How are you handling what’s going on out there? And so I think that’ll be a lot of fun. I appreciate you all listening in. Uh, any kids out there, any kid entrepreneurs, let me know if you’re there or have your parent let me know that you’re there. I’d love to, you know, I’m thinking about doing something related to that in the future, like I said earlier, but just super thankful for your time and attention today. If you want to get all the notes and the resources and links mentioned in this episode, head on over to smartpassiveincome.com/session four-zero-seven you can also check out Steve and his website.
Pat: My Wife Quit Her Job.com and Steve also has a podcast, the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast. He comes from an eCommerce background. He teaches a lot of things about Amazon and manufacturing and that kind of thing. But no matter what kind of business you have is also a lot of great stuff there too. I’ve benefited a lot from the content on his website and just don’t pay attention to all the Stanford stuff that he has photo-shopped on me, especially in episode 278 of his. But anyway, thank you so much. I appreciate you and looking forward to serving you in the next episode. Until then, keep rocking it and as always, #TeamFlynnforthewin.
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