Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Business

The land of opportunity, land of the free. The land of 40 million children between the ages of 5 and 15. The land where 85% of those children go to public schools [1]. 34,000,000 creative, open, trusting, impressionable minds with little or no education in business or financial responsibility.

There is something that occurs in a small percentage of these children. It is unfortunate, in this country, that it is such a small percentage. It is also unfortunate that by the time it happens, they are no longer children. They get the itch. It is opportunity. It begins with an idea, and often ends in a lesson. Whether it is the wrong ideas or the wrong execution, these lessons can be expensive. The expense is some combination of money, reputation, and time. The amount of this expense is proportional to the age of the recipient. The younger the student, the lesser the expense, and the easier the recovery.

Business is not about calculus, sociology, or accounting. For that matter, it is not about reading, writing, or arithmetic. In fact, it adds context to every other aspect of education. Math now has a purpose. Reading, writing, and typing provide communication skills that can be put into real practice. It is engaging, like a child's game. There are risks and rewards, tactics and strategies, successes and lessons. There are no prerequisites to learning these things. The concepts are as effective to a grade schooler as they are to a college student. It is easy to teach that business is about the exchange of money, for goods, services, and information, in a mutually beneficial transaction. It is easy to describe demographics, product positioning, reputation, relationships, profit, expenses, and negotiation in simple terms.

Twenty years ago, our trial-by-fire was the Lemonade Stand. Over a couple summer days, we tossed some lemonade together and sold it for a quarter a cup. The new Lemonade Stand is online. Services like Ebay and Amazon, and Google's AdSense provide an inexpensive, flexible point of entry into business. With a little guidance, any child could set up an account and start selling online.

In the land of the American Dream, opportunity is everywhere. Unfortunately, most people are oblivious to it. I strongly believe that it is our obligation to our children and our country to illuminate the young minds in the ways of business and financial responsibility.

[1] U.S. Census Bureau,

©2008 Gerry Heidenreich

Print | posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2008 7:15 PM


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