Can you turn $5 into $100 in two weeks?? Well, I know some people who can, and they’re my kids! Well, not kids that I own, but kids that I teach.
At the beginning of the Summer most teenagers look for a job, but I wanted my kiddies to think like business-owners instead of employees. So, I created a challenge where they had to start and grow a business in two weeks. In order to keep things fair, I had a few rules:
- I will provide the initial $5 investment to start. No outside angel investors, seed capital, piggy-bank cash or any other kind of money is allowed.
- Everything must be legal and ethical. Don’t get locked up trying to start a small-scale drug cartel or gambling ring.
- Do not spend any of the money on yourself. The initial $5 is an investment, not a gift, so don’t spend it on a Wendy’s 4-for-4.
- Every penny spent or earned must be accounted for on an accounting spreadsheet.
So the challenge was simple: Use $5 to start and grow a business within two weeks. The business owner that earns the most profit gets to keep all of their money, as well as half of everyone else’s money. Also, if anyone chooses to continue their business after the challenge is over, I agreed to be the first investor to add additional capital in the business.
Participation was optional, but four people stepped up to the challenge. I’ve never done this challenge before, so I didn’t know what to expect, but I figured that the big winner would earn $40 at the most.
Two weeks later, the four new business owners presented their results:
Business # 1: Personal Assistant and Home Cleaning Service
In this business, she helped others do tasks that they didn’t want to do on their own. From cleaning pet cages, to painting toenails, she did it all and she did a stellar job. She cleaned houses, helped family members, and was eager to be of assistance for two weeks. Her prices were “pay me what you feel it was worth” and she chose not to spend any money at all to make sure that she earned a profit from day 1. Total profit $94.
Business # 2: Car Wash
This person used the $5 to buy car wash supplies from Dollar Tree. Then she recruited some of her friends, borrowed a hose and went door to door within her housing development to ask her neighbors if they would like a car wash. She washed 9 cars in one day and also received money from tips. No wages were paid to the friends, which probably creates a labor law issue, but I’ll leave it up to them to sort out. Total profit: $56.90.
Business # 3: Hydration
At first, he sold snacks around the neighborhood, but sales weren’t going as quickly as he wanted, so he switched his strategy. He bought a case of 40 bottles of water at Costco for $2.50, refrigerated the bottles, and went to the basketball court every day to sell the bottles for 50 cents each. Total profit: $21
Business # 4: Graphic Design
He started a graphic design business where he created digital art for people online. This included creating logos, photoshopping graphics and creating vector graphics. He got a customer who agreed to pay upwards of $100, but the money didn’t come through on time and he was left with the $5 that he started with. Total profit: $5…kinda
The winner was business # 1 who went home with a total prize of $135.45. But the strangest part of the entire thing was that no one cared about the money at all. The winner didn’t care about how much money she earned and no one else seemed to mind that they didn’t earn any money. They enjoyed the experience and were so proud of what they created in two weeks that the money wasn’t important.
I am very proud of each of them! Within a matter of days, they came up with a business idea, a marketing strategy, and they ran the bookkeeping and operations of a company that they created themselves. They were very driven and they didn’t try to sabotage each other. At first, some of them were discouraged since the sales weren’t coming as quickly as expected, but in the end, they all made something amazing that they could be proud of.
So let that be a lesson to parents— if your kid ever says that they want a summer job, just hand them $5 and tell them, “you have two weeks…start something!!” If they don’t come back with at least $50, feel free to lock the refrigerator and charge them rent until they start bringing home the bacon. That’s free parenting advice from Geremy.