My business endeavors began when I took my education into my own hands.
After fifth grade (12 years old), I decided I wanted to attend a local private school. As the fifth child of nine, I understood that my parents could not pay for it. Nevertheless, I was a twelve year-old with a business plan: I wanted to sell our Idaho potatoes in Utah.
My dad had agreed to drive me. We went to the potato cellar and stacked five-hundred pounds of potatoes into our old Ford Taurus station wagon.
Upon arriving at my grandparent’s house in Provo, I muscled up some courage and walked over to the neighbor’s door. The large door had amber-patterned glass, the kind that I couldn’t see through. I peeked at the rumpled sales script I had written, took a breath, and knocked. A nice lady answered. I completely forgot my lines. Horrified, I looked down and read the script word for word: “Hi. I am selling fresh Idaho potatoes to earn money for school tuition. Are you interested?” I looked up nervously.
She smiled and asked, “How much are they?”
“They are $0.40 a pound,” I answered. She wanted 20 pounds! I ran back to the garage, weighed the potatoes, put them in a paper bag, carried them back, and exchanged them for $8.00. Tired, I still walked to every house in the neighborhood, selling and delivering heavy bags of potatoes until dark. I earned $110.00 that first day.
Work was hard, and rejection humiliating, but working to fund my own education made me responsible for what I learned. Moreover, my little potato business showed me how much my success depends on those around me. Without the generosity from my dad and grandparents, I couldn’t have sold a single potato.
How hard I work depends on me, but my success will always have a dependence on others, and that’s no small potatoes ;)