Valuable Business Lessons for Kids & Adults Alike – As Learned On The Beach

It’s becoming a time-honoured tradition. I used to do it. My kids do it. While parents sip on rosé wine on the beach of Knokke Le Zoute, their children are setting up shop for the summer. Their misson: to learn the essentials of trade in home made paper flowers using ‘couteau’ shells for currency. Basically, they’re putting their parents at work creating and repairing the paper flowers, set up a small shop next to where the parents are sitting and trade away, using a specific type of shell as currency. These shells can also be found at the beach, washed up by the flood each day.

For reference, a flower can fetch between 10 and 80 shells, depending on it’s size, prettiness and the gullibility of the buyer. Some valuable business lessons learnt:

– The early bird gets the worm. The participants have to earn their currency by collecting shells, arriving early in the morning. Then by watching the ebbs and flows, they are sure they don’t miss a fresh harvest.
– They have to keep an eye on inflation. A bounty of shells on the shore will increase the pricing of their paper flowers.
– They learn how to haggle. Belgian kids watch the clever Dutch kids: They shouldn’t stop pushing the price until they see pain in the eyes!
– They discover that market intelligence pays: scouts are sent out to compare the prices of competing paper flower stalls.
– They have to factor in timing and the market cycle. At the end of the day/holidays, participants will need to offload.
– They start to understand their target market: Little girls with lots of shells will go crazy for a pink flower.
– Then once they get a grip on the above, they also realise that trading can sometimes be more profitable than producing.
– They finally learn how to work together: cousins, siblings and friends will band together as someone always needs to man the shop, while others collect shells or go on shopping forages.

Meanwhile, the market regulators, their parents, are making flowers, picking up shells and ordering more rosé wine which unfortunately can’t be bought with the shells… It’s always good fun when the market regulator is relaxed…