GaryVee often talks about being a pure bred entrepreneur and the “hustles” he already pulled off as a kid.
Now, I am not going to say that I am a pure bred entrepreneur myself, because I honestly think I am not, but I’d like to share a few of the little hustles that I pulled off when I was a kid.
Selling “artwork” in the neighbourhood
When I was about 6 years old I was very much into creating paintings with drawing ink. These were colourful A4 messes that made no sense at all… but does true art ever make sense anyway?
At some point I must have heard about people selling art, so I decided to set up a mass production of A4 format drawing ink pieces of art. Once they had all dried and I was happy, I walked over to the neighbours.
Door to door I sold each piece of “art” for 20 Pfennig (about $0.10). I sold about 10 “paintings” and went back home. I felt like a genius and went straight back to brush and ink.
Unfortunately it didn’t take long for one of the neighbours to tell my mum about my sales. They found it cute. My mum didn’t.
She took me by the hand, we stomped back to each of the neighbours’ houses and she told me to hand the money back.
I let most of them keep the art though.
Setting up a village newspaper
At age 12 I build a team of journalists to create the first ever village newspaper for Woltershausen. The team consisted of my little brother (age 9), the neighbour’s boy (age 10) and myself.
I handcrafted little “media passes” (they included a lot of colourful stickers) with photos and had them signed by the mayor himself to give us free access to all village events during the year 1991, which was the 850th anniversary of our little 600-souls village.
For the whole year we went to each event, like a stock car race, a big village hike through the woods, celebrations of cherry blossoms etc.. Our coverage usually included what kinds of food and drink you were able to purchase.
We added a crossword puzzle, a jokes section and a quiz (with prizes that we sourced through donations from village businesses).
And then we sold copies at the big village party the year after for 3 Marks (about $1.50). We sold 111 copies, giving each of us 111 Marks in extra pocket money.
The mayor spoke about our efforts in front of the whole community of about 500 attending that party and we felt like village heroes.
Selling lollipops in school
We had a tiny corner shop in our village growing up and each morning before taking the bus to school we stopped there to buy a candy supply for the day.
At some point in the early 90s I got into Chupa Chups and often ran around school with one of them in my mouth. One day a girl asked me if I had one for her, too.
I had one, but I said I wanted to have it later in the day. The girl offered me 20 Pfennig for it. I had only paid 10 Pfennig and I realized that if I sold it I could buy two whole new ones the next day.
Then kids saw the girl with a lollipop and asked her where she had it from, she pointed at me. And this time I was prepared. I had bought ten lollipops for 10 Pfennig each and sold them for 20 Pfennig. The demand was till there.
Talking to the corner shop owner I learned that if you buy candy in bulk you save money, so I invested in a whole big tub of Chupa Chups. Now I was making 15 Pfennig per lollipop simply because the other kids were too lazy to buy some themselves.
At some point though lollipops weren’t cool anymore and the business died.
Building a casino in our playroom
This one is especially funny considering that I have worked for 11 years in the gambling industry.
I think it was also around age 12 that I had the idea to repurpose our children’s playroom into a casino. We invited all the kids from the neighbourhood to come over and bring their pocket money.
We had a tiny toy slot machine, the casino/stock exchange/horse racing piece of the board game “Go For Broke” and a deck of cards for 5-Card Draw Poker.
The toy slot machine took real coins, but spat out whatever coins had accumulated when any 3-symbol combination occurred. So, we didn’t make any profit when someone won and took ALL the coins.
So I had the idea that the machine needed “maintenance” once in a while and we removed it from the “casino floor”.
My little brother and I had figured out a trick to open the ledge when holding the lever in a certain position, so we took out about half the coins in there, before returning it back to the casino operations. We basically skimmed the machines.
The casino shut down the same day when the gaming supervision commission (my parents) revoked our license.
How about your youth hustles?
I am honestly super curious what other people have pulled off as kids. Please share your “youth hustles” in the comments!