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My First Experience With Being an Entrepreneur?

Children Earning Money

A lot of people talk about their first “job” and what they learned from it, or starting their first “full fledged” business, but I rarely read online people’s first experience with starting “something” for profit.  I am talking more grassroots…the “quasi” business.  The idea that you are creating value that someone is going to purchase can be understood by the youngest of children, and I distinctly remember two experiences, neither of which I am proud of that taught me entrepreneurial lessons that stick with me today.

My First Memory of Being an Entrepreneur

Again, I am not particularly proud of this quasi business, but you have to at least throw me some credit for coming up with a way to receive a check.

When I was younger Iwas familiar with the “Warez” scene, Wikipedia defines the scene as,

copyrighted works distributed without fees or royalties, and may be traded, in general violation of copyright law. The term generally refers to unauthorized releases by organized groups, as opposed to file sharing between friends or large groups of people with similar interest using a darknet…This term was initially coined by members of the various computer underground circles, but has since become commonplace among Internet users and the mass media.

So a buddy and I had an idea!  We would create a completely fake ‘organized group.’ We had no interest in breaking copyright laws or stealing.  So we would tell people to come to our rudimentary webpage for free software.  The page was a single color with no heading and just had a list of links advertising to download certain programs at the time.  Literally the page had no pictures and was even hosted on geocities.   Yes, this was a time in technological history when people would click a link to download a random program…oh wait that still happens today and forces me to clean up every family members’ computer monthly.

But since, I didn’t have any of the illegal programs what would happen when the visitor clicked to download what they thought would be an illegal copy of a program?  An adult website that would pay my friend and I a few cents every time.  The pay-per-click advertiser never asked us for identification or even a social security number.

I learned three very simple lessons from this quasi-business.

Three Lessons Learned With This Quasi-Business

Maybe a pre-teen should already known these three simple lessons, but I didn’t and I learned the hard way.

Lesson One:  Know How You are Getting Paid

The business world, at the time, dealt in paper checks so when you are 12 and don’t have a checking account and you aren’t ready to share your entrepreneurial spirit with your parents a paper check is near worthless.  It is the equivalent of holding a coconut and trying to trade it for some pizza.  Which leads us directly into lesson 2.

Lesson Two:  Be Proud of What You Created

If you aren’t proud enough to tell your parents what you are doing to make money you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

Lesson Three:  You Need to Bring Value to Your Customers/Clients

Lastly, and probably the most important lesson I learned is that you can only rip people off for so long.  Once it was figured out this organization brought no value to our “customers” the clicks dried up.   This is the reason I believe most businesses fail – they fail to provide a worthwhile value for what they are charging.

What was your first quasi-business? If I get 10 fun ones to read I’ll share my second which is just as ridiculous and taught as many useful lessons.



  1. Good grief, Evan…we hardly knew ya! 😉

    I’m afraid I never was bright enough to figure out a sharp way to clip the customers, which probably explains why I’ll never be old and rich.

    But I do remember the first time a newspaper actually paid me for a freelance story. It was just astonishing…I couldn’t believe somebody would pay a person to do anything so easy. Unfortunately they didn’t pay much, and since freelance rates haven’t increased significantly in the 40 years since that happened, they pay even less than they used to. But what the heck. At the time it was a kick.

    • My poor mom, right?

      Doing something you loved, and it came easy to you and wasn’t shady – that is a much better first experience lol

  2. I rented parking spaces on my parent’s land for 10 cents each for a special event that occurred once a year. My first earnings was $2.50 at 7 yrs. old.

    • FANTASTIC example! $2.50 to a 7 year old is amazing…and holy shit what kind of yard do your parents’ have that they can fit 25 cars

      • This was their second home 35 miles outside of New York city. It was ten (10) acres. It was great for hide and go seek, war, football and baseball games. We used to go there on the weekends until my parents sold their businesses then we moved there.

        • Oddly enough I live about 30 miles from NYC however I think you probably mean in a different direction. I am East on LI and you probably mean North to Westchester area

          • It was in East Brunswick, New Jersey. It was really different from New York City! I remember walking a quarter of a mile to a friends house. In those days, it was mostly rural, now it is the suburbs.

  3. Darn it, I don’t have a story to share, but can my comment count toward the 10 so I can hear your second story?

    How much did you earn from your business?

    • This particular business was not lucrative maybe 20 or 30 bucks. The clicks dried up quickly but the real barrier was the paper check lol. What the hell is the point at working it if we can actually extract any dollars?

      I’ll count you cause I love your blog. Still need at least 6 more before I admit the next shady shady thing I did lol

  4. LOL! She doesn’t know about this blog, right?

    The only really shady thing I did was later in my career: developing and implementing the Theory of Creative Malingering. Some of us would call this “delegating.” 😉

    • Nope. The only people that know the domain of this site are The Wife, One buddy who found it through another personal finance blog and another buddy who made it his mission to find the domain lol

  5. cool story man. “you can only rip people off for so long” lol – funny and very true. when i was young, i used to trade video games (trade sucky ones for good ones) and then sell them for profits at funcoland (was bought out by game stop i believe). i also did the ebay / funcoland arbitrage. made a few bucks per cartridge, but felt great.

    • Who 25 to 35 year old male doesn’t remember FuncoLand! That was a cool business model.

      I use the “you can only rip people off for so long” saying for a ton of businesses as in,
      – You can only get people to pay $9 for ice cream for so long (CreamStone)

  6. I mowed lawns, nothing much to say about that though…

    I did try a pay-to-surf business scheme a long while ago. This is where I’d have a horrible banner at the top of my browser that would occassionally flash ads while I worked.

    I got some family members to sight up. the idea would be that they put the code on for the banner, then I would get some money. But then the entire business went belly up.

    That was the last time I involved family in such a lame business idea.

  7. That’s pretty funny; thanks for sharing that one. I had so many little things from the vegetable stand to teaching guitar lessons to other kids in school. It’ll be interesting to see what my kids get into – we’ll be sure to give them ideas and foster their creativity but not push them into something they don’t enjoy.

    • Vegetable Stand, huh? Where did they come from b/c if it was your parents’ garden then it is perfeect ALL PROFIT

      • Totally; Dad had a hoppin garden goin on back then. It was pure profit for me out by the street!

  8. Loved the three simple lessons – especially – be proud of what you’ve created! Passionate – yes, nothing illegal.

  9. Great story. It sounds like you learned quite a bit. Most people wouldn’t learn or take anything away from that experience but it seems like you learned some valuable lessons.


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