Charging Kids for Household Crimes

I'm Not Above Taking Their $$

Charging Kids for Household Crimes

I’m not above bribing my kids. In fact, sometimes it’s completely called for.

When I really need my kids to do something important that has no obvious payoff to them, I’ll definitely bring out a bribe. However, I’m not big on rewarding my kids for things that are generally expected of them. Just as no one pays me to put my dishes in the dishwasher, make my bed or pick my clothes off the floor (oh how I wish they did), I don’t reward my kids for those things. In my view, the reward for making your bed is getting into a made bed that night. Nothing more, nothing less.

I will however, charge my kids for transgressions. In the cases where I simply cannot impress upon the kids that a behaviour must change through asking, reminding, pleading, I’ve been known to hit them where it hurts: the piggybank.

Here’s a recent example. I’ve been begging my kids for years to flush the toilet after they’ve used it. Don’t believe me? I was blogging/complaining about this in 2009! Eventually I realized if I couldn’t encourage them then I’d discourage them. I instituted a $2 charge to EACH child, regardless of the perpetrator, each time I came across an unflushed toilet. This was one month ago. Do you know how much money I collected in this scheme? Eight dollars. That’s right. It took each of them giving me a Toonie (that’s a week’s allowance in our house) twice, on days 1 and 2, to forever cure them of the non-flushing habit. Now I live in a state of blissful flushedness.

Is this parenting technique harsh? I don’t think so. In life there are often monetary consequences to breaking the rules. If I park in the wrong place I get a parking ticket. The way I see it, I’m preparing them for life and keeping my sanity at the same time.  

Come on, admit it—you’re thinking about trying this, aren’t you?!


Dragons' Den Season 6, Episode 14

The Perils of Perishables

Dragons' Den Season 6, Episode 14

Danielle and I like to say, “It’s easy to spend money…it’s the keeping it that’s the hard part.”  Yes, there are things we need to spend money on in order to operate our businesses.  But as entrepreneurs, people are always trying to sell us things in the name of improving our businesses. There are coaches, marketing consultants, PR pros and more.

This is yet another reason why I love Dragons’ Den: In last night’s episode I heard one of the greatest business tips ever – and it was absolutely free.

Over the years Danielle and I have met our share of women interested in opening up food-based retail shops.  I understand the compulsion: you’re a foodie, you get to design something really pretty, and then you get to work there.

When the two of us were deciding what kind of business we wanted to start we had no idea what we wanted to do.  But two things I did know.  I told Danielle, under no circumstance, did I want to do anything that had to do with perishables or retail.  I couldn’t imagine working in a business where your inventory went bad at the end of the day.  Nor could I imagine being shackled to a store.

But LOTS of people want to open up food shops and restaurants.  

Do you?  Because Jim Treliving gave the best low-down on the retail food biz I’ve ever heard.

Dougieluv walked into the Den looking for an investment in his 650-square foot, Vancouver-based hot dog restaurant, DougieDOG.  For about $7 each, Dougieluv sells 26 varieties of all natural, nitrate-free hot dogs.  He earned about $300,000 last year in sales.  On that, he lost $10,000.

So here’s the punch line: Treliving said that a restaurant about that size needs to bring in $700,000 in sales each year in order to break even.  It doesn’t matter if it’s coffee or hot dogs or whatever.  $700k a year, $60k a month.

So there you have it – the math on what you need to earn to operate a successful resto.  Unlike a lot of things in business, this advice was free.  I hope it saves you some heartache and hard work.


Dragons' Den Season 6, Episode 13

More Mompreneurs in the Den!

Dragons' Den Season 6, Episode 13

With more amazing mompreneurs featured on Dragons’ Den, it feels like Christmas around here! It was great to get introduced to Apple Cheeks Diapers on last night’s episode.

Founded in 2008 by BFFs Amy Appleton & Ilana Grostern from Montreal, Apple Cheeks offers reusable diapers for the modern parent. Made from bamboo and organic cotton, Apple Cheeks sell online and in boutiques. These mompreneurs came to the Den looking for $100,000 for 15% of their company.

This was the third cloth diaper pitch to be featured on Dragons’ Den. But unlike the past two pitches, Apples Cheeks has strong sales (just under $500,000 a year) and what Robert Herjavec referred to as “a better mousetrap.” That is to say, Amy and Ilana have cleverly designed the diaper to make cleaning and washing very simple.

In the end, however, as Kevin O’Leary said, this was a pitch “about poo poo and cash.” Apple Cheeks enjoys a healthy profit margin, but they are looking to produce overseas to bring down their costs. That way, they can effectively market to big box stores.

Jim – the franchise king – Treliving jumped in with an offer for $100,000 for 25% of the company.  He knows about distribution and has relationships with the big box stores. Jim made Apple Cheeks an offer for two reasons. First, he liked that they were running their diaper company.  (Doing all the dirty work, so to speak.) Secondly, he liked that they knew their numbers.

Arlene Dickinson just liked them. She struggled with their valuation, but Arlene often falls for the great pitchers. (She has impeccable taste.) And these women made a great case. So 25% of the company, Apple Cheeks landed a deal with Jim and Arlene.

Congratulations to another great pair of entrepreneurs. Check out what Apple Cheeks is up to now on their blog and on Twitter.