My Failed Business Ventures

by Lara on October 27, 2011

Even at the fairly green age of 26, I can look back at a few humorous and entertaining “business” ventures that went south.  I hope one day to write a post about some successful business endeavors, but for now, at least I can learn from my mistakes.

Age:  6

Business:  Selling stickers in the hallway

Concept:  This was my first entreuprenerial endeavor.  As avid sticker collectors, my friend Megan and I decided to set up shop and sell stickers for five, ten, or twenty-five cents.  This was my most profitable business (considering I had no overhead), but as you can imagine, the clientele was limited.

Age: 8

Business: Lara’s Do Anything for Money Company

Concept:  I’m not exactly sure.  I was unearthing boxes of my childhood belongings last summer and found my first “business card”–a flyer typed out on my dad’s typewriter.  Yes, that is actually what the name of the company was called.  No, my parents didn’t intervene with concern for what I meant by “anything.”  The best part was the last line:  I’m cheap, but I’m not free!

Age:  10

Business:  Laralex Snacks & Drinks

Concept:  My brother Alex (get it, Laralex) and I talked my dad into being our primary investor for this one.  He gave, errr, leant us $20 to buy our inventory:  sodas, candy bars, and bags of chips on sale at the grocery store.  My mom was (unknowingly, I believe) our second investor.  She provided a large basket to carry the goodies.  We then proceeded to walk around to every office in my dad’s office complex and sell snacks for an absurdly up-marked price.  Thanks to a few generous souls, I think we may have broken even on this one.

Age:  16

Business: Personal Assistant Extraordinaire

Concept:  A very dear, elderly family friend needed help with her day-to-day functioning, as she frequently entertained but had crippling arthritis in her hands.  I swear, this lady had so much patience with me; she probably spent more time teaching me how to iron a man’s shirt and set a dinner table than she would have spent doing it herself.  I can’t actually call this a failed pursuit because I learned so much and got to spend quality time with a friend who left us earlier this year.

Age: 21-23

Business: Nannying in Orange County, California

Concept:  I take it back, this was my most profitable business.  Thanks to a solid start babysitting cousins and neighborhood friends growing up, I was able to get some sweet gigs in college.  I probably made more per hour than I did in my first post-collegiate job.  Plus, the perks were life-savers: full laundry access, free food, and time for studying while the little ones were sleeping or at tennis lessons.  The best part about this gig is that I am still friends with many of the families for whom I used to work.  The worst part?  All kids grow up, including me, and there were bigger things on the horizon.

I’m curious, does anyone else have entertaining tales of failed young entrepreneurship?

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Caitlin October 27, 2011 at 10:46 am

Cute post idea! Aww memory lane. I tried to start a typing business in 7th grade. No one was lazy enough to pay me to type their assignments for them though, and my one and only customer ended up getting in trouble with her mom for hiring me!


Ashley @ Hop Skip Jump October 27, 2011 at 1:32 pm

This is so funny! You were a creative one from the beginning. One of the funny adventures my brother and I did was cut out the comics in the sunday newspaper and staple them together (like a flip book) and then sell them to your neighbors. We didn’t quite make that much money because our block had about 15 houses on it and i think we charged $0.25-$1.00 and only did it a couple of times but it’s pretty funny when I think about it now!


Roz@weightingfor50 October 27, 2011 at 2:18 pm

How fun is this post!? The only thing I did when I was a kid was to have a kool aid stand on the street. Sadly, my little friends and I drank most of it ourselves, so it was far from a profitable venture! Take care Lara.


saysskippy October 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Hehe, love this post Lara! I always tried to have garage sales when I was like 9, but no one wanted to buy my junk 🙂 At least I didn’t waste anything more than a couple weekends


Jasmine @ the bookish mama October 27, 2011 at 7:46 pm

I sold stickers (and handmade bookmarks) in elementary school too! I think I got in trouble for trying to sell the pinecones that I collected from the trees at school in 2nd grade. 🙂 Love this post.


glidingcalm October 27, 2011 at 7:51 pm

awww this post is sooo cute!!! 😀


Diane Fit to the Finish October 28, 2011 at 3:41 am

It shows that you are a true entrepreneur! I did more of the established ones when I was first married – Pampered Chef, kids books, etc. I discovered that I *hate* calling people, so I did not enjoy the experience at all.


Sarah October 28, 2011 at 8:45 am

Kudos for all your ideas as a little one. I think the most i did was a few failed attempts at cookie/lemonaid stands.


julie October 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm

hahaha i totally understand the failed jobs route. um hello like 2 weeks at the college bookstore or 1 year at the failing nonprofit hahaha


Pure2raw twins October 28, 2011 at 6:05 pm

to be honest I do not think we did any real entrepreneur like businesses growing up besides lemonade stands and such. we did though have a few jobs, so maybe by working so young our entrepreneur spirit was a late bloom haha


Elina (Healthy and Sane) October 28, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Hehe, I have no failed business stories but am definitely looking forward to a success story one day! 🙂


Amy Murray October 29, 2011 at 7:18 am

This post made me both LAUGH and CRY. Love it Lara!


Susan October 29, 2011 at 8:07 am

These may be “failed”, but I think it’s clear that you have the business gene/mindset, which is definitely as asset. My mom joked that I have the exact opposite of that: I give it away for free (okay, that sounds bad, but I’m not talking about with the fellas).

I think anything we do, even if it’s not our lifelong career, teaches us so darn much! I learned more from years of waitressing than I probably have in four years of college.


Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) November 13, 2011 at 10:55 am

Great stories. I love the one of your elderly friend teaching you how to iron shirts and set tables. I also believe I remember when you lost her. Seems that your ‘failed’ business ventures really were very valuable in terms of life-lessons. In my book, that’s priceless 🙂


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