When I was 13 years old, I wanted to earn some money so I asked my father to help sell our produce at the market. I grew up on a farm and we sold milk, cheese, fruit and vegetables at the village market in Graz.
At first my father didn’t want to take me on because he didn’t think I’d take it seriously. But my mum convinced him.
So every Saturday morning, I worked at our little market stall for six hours. We had to get up at 4 a.m. because it took us an hour and a half to drive to the market. Dad would pack everything up the night before.
At the village, I would have to weigh the produce, make the calculations and talk to the customers. Dad paid me one dollar a day, which was pretty good at the time. If we sold everything, I got a $5 bonus. Luckily, it was common for us to sell every thing because my dad had his regulars. And my mum made banana bread or carrot cake and people couldn’t resist a 13 year-old kid selling cake!
I learned very quickly not to be afraid of earning and making a profit. As my dad always said, ‘We need the market to earn an income’.
I helped to increase our profit at the market, by getting mum to bake extra things such as biscuits, particularly at Christmas.
I saved my money for a pair of Wrangler jeans. They were mega-expensive, something like $40, but I loved them. The waistband was braided and I thought they were the coolest.
My dad knew I was saving for the jeans and told me if I saved two-thirds of the cost, he would put in the rest. He was very savings oriented and taught me about goal setting and budgeting.
Working with dad was very cool. He never had much time for us because he was always working on our farm, always up early and back late. Working with him, I learned what it means to run a business from the ground up.
My parents set me up with my business values, which are very similar to my family values. Be respectful, be courteous and treat everyone as individuals.
I spent three years working with dad at the market. For me, it was about connecting with people. I’ve always been good with names and I’d also remember their dog’s name, their kids’ names and their grandkids’ names.
One of the big business values I learned at the market was communication. Having a connection to the customer is imperative. Everyone deserves one-on-one time with the people they are purchasing from. It’s an exchange of time, not just money.