Five Business Skills We All Need


“The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.” ― Nolan Bushnell

Luis, our 15-year-old yard worker, wants to go to his cousin’s quinceañera in Costa Rica in November. Although, he only works for us on Saturday, he wanted to work after school to save money for his trip. We are preparing for a new roof in November, and we needed someone to remove the old roof tiles.

“Luis, how would you like to make enough money to travel by removing our old tiles and selling them?” we asked him.

Thus began the lessons in entrepreneurship and starting a business.

Five Business Skills We All Need

I am going to use Luis as an example because he is one bright guy and learns quickly.

1. Education 

I’m a believer that education is everything. That isn’t necessarily formal education, although it can be. Education comes in many forms, including through experience and through mentors. Luis didn’t know where or how to begin to sell our roof tiles, so we  mentored him.

You see, Luis is willing to learn. He hired two of his friends to remove the roof tiles, and since we needed them to be removed, we paid them. It was a long, dirty day of work with nasty surprises under the roof tiles like scorpions and snake skins. Ron was stung in the stomach by a scorpion that crawled under his t-shirt! UGH!

2. Know Your Goal

Luis’ goal was to simply remove the roof tiles and sell them. Yet, there were many sub-steps he needed to understand to be successful. How many roof tiles are there? What is a reasonable price to set? How will you market the roof tiles? How will you deliver them? What is the cost of delivery and do you increase the cost of the tiles because you have to hire a truck and workers to load, deliver, and unload the tiles?

3. Gauge Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Luis realized that math was not his strength. But, with Ron’s help and a calculator, he wasn’t overwhelmed with the task. The most difficult part was figuring out an easy way to count the tiles. Once the tiles were counted and he had a reasonable price figured out (4c per tile for 1700 tiles ), he was ready to market them.

4. Know Your Customers, Their Wants and Needs

Luis was happy with the progress he had made. He had all the numbers, the cost of delivery, and the profit he would make. But, he needed to find a buyer. How? He couldn’t advertise on Facebook because most of the local people wanting to buy the roof tiles wouldn’t be on Facebook. He could go door to door, but that was time-consuming. He needed to have connections, and an understanding of who would want to buy these tiles. Who were his customers?

5. Networking is Your Friend

Right or wrong, business is all about who you know. Knowing someone who can advise you, knowing an investor, or just knowing someone who can provide you with emotional support can be invaluable. Luis is a budding entrepreneur who needed our help in selling the tiles.

Since we have a good network of local and foreign friends, it was only a matter of putting the word out that Luis had roof tiles for sale. One of our friends is interested in buying the tiles. Luis has been in contact with him and is in the process of negotiating a good deal. Nicaraguans are excellent negotiators, and Luis is no exception.

Consistency in business is much more effective than trying to nail everything all at once and all alone. Luis is consistent and persistent. I am so proud of him! He is learning the steps needed to be a successful entrepreneur. He is definitely a doer, not a dreamer.

What other business skills do we all need to know? 

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10 thoughts on “Five Business Skills We All Need

  1. Debbie, we enjoyed seeing you two. My suggestion for Luis is to stay local. Delivery costs will drive the deal, and there are many local options for those looking for used tiles, as many folks are going to zinc. Sorry we couldn’t help him. It was also a bit crazy for us this time. For us is more a luxury as we would use it to build little ranchos for hanging out. Wish him luck. He should try beachside hotels.
    Take care. What’s Ron doing up on the roof with the scorpions? Tell him to stay down with some flor de hamaica licour.

    • Thanks so much Ernesto. Luis has sold all the tiles now. I am so proud of his new business skills. Now, Ron is teaching him how to make money with his new money. I think Luis is going to open a dollar account at a local bank, and watch his money grow. He is a smart kid. I will be sure to tell Ron. LOL The front of our house is reproofed now. It looks fantastic.

  2. Great you are helping Luis. This will be something he’ll remember and value as he goes through life. I hope Ron is okay after that scorpion sting. We have them where I live too (in the desert).

    • Hi Sunni! It took Ron a day to recover from his scorpion sting. He had a numb tongue and he said he felt weird, but he is OK now. Luis is learning a lot, and I am so glad we can help him. It takes so little to help others in Nicaragua. and it is a win-win for all of us.

  3. Your re-roofing looks and sounds like an extremely dirty job with some unanticipated hazards like snakes and scorpions! You and Ron are both excellent teachers as well as mentors and have helped Luis learn some very valuable life skills. And I agree with you Debbie, that education really is everything. The goal of any parent and teacher should be instilling the importance of constant learning beyond the years of formal education and throughout one’s life. As for networking – Luis is fortunate to have met you two! Anita

  4. That was great.. embracing and teaching BUSINESS SkiLLS! Excellent story and bien hecho! Good job coaching! I just had a biz coaching experience and I was not as deft as you guys. It is not as easy as it seems!

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