I love fall! Cooler temps, fall colors, hot drinks, and warm boots! This year was a fun first for our little family. Our daughter turned three recently and we met up with family friends to take the kids to a pumpkin patch. Why am I writing about a pumpkin patch on a business blog? A pumpkin patch was where I fell in love with business and started my journey of being a creative entrepreneur. So today in honor of my daughter’s sparkling eyes picking out her first pumpkin, I want to give you glimpse into the beginning of my journey as an entrepreneur.
I was homeschooled from 1st through 12th grades and I loved it! Field trips, an apprenticeship, music lessons at a preparatory school, speaking engagements, 4-H – while many other kids were stuck inside stuffy buildings I was discovering the fascination of learning through hands on activities where the classroom was only the beginning.
I think I was always interested in business. I had two failed businesses before the age of 12 – a worm farm, and breeding zebra finches. I don’t know if you could technically call them businesses since those ventures ended before I made any money but I was hooked! I had pads of graphing paper to sketch out ideas (to scale, of course), 3 ring binders filled with pictures ripped from magazines with product development ideas, and endless pages of possible businesses I could start. At one point I think every pet store in a 25 mile radius recognized the sound of my 10 year old voice from my constant calls to price out potential pet related businesses.
I was constantly writing business plans for some new idea and at the age of 12 my parents decided to put that energy in a direction that could actually lead to real profit. We started a pumpkin patch in the spring of 1992 and I learned the basic tenants of business hands on. Making flyers in Publisher, scheduling field trips, practicing public speaking, keeping track of money, delivering a positive customer experience, being interviewed for the local newspaper, we learned all of it! We started out just selling pumpkins and soon graduated to field trips for school groups. Every October busload after busload of giggling children were dropped off and my 2 siblings and I would give a flannel board presentation on the life of a pumpkin and then take the kids to the pumpkin patch to pick out their own. I was making $20 per hour at age 12 giving field trips to 2,000 to 2,500 kids per year. I was ruined for the idea of a normal punch-the-time-clock career forever.