Tag Archives: cash flow

My Dad Taught Me Cash Flow with a Soda Machine

“I create. I take risks. I live my passion. I am an entrepreneur.”

—YSF Magazine

Today’s story is contributed by Rob Fitzpatrick.

After a brief, failed experiment paying me to do chores, my dad tried something really neat. It clearly took a bit of legwork, but maybe there are some transferable lessons for parents who want to lay an entrepreneurial foundation.

He gave me a vending machine. He rented the machine, found a location in a local workshop, and installed it. And then he told me two things:

  • That this would be the last time I was given an allowance.
  • And that if I wanted to have any pocket money next week, I’d better spend this week’s on some inventory.

I ran the machine for about four years, from the time I was seven or eight.

my cash flow


At first, my only agency was inventory management. We drove to Costco in his big van and I decided what to buy. Stocking an empty soda machine is easy: you buy four cases of each soda you want to carry. But then the Coca-Cola runs out first and the Sunkist is half empty, and nobody has bought even a single Grape Soda, and should I cut my margins paying more per-unit for individual cans, or do I buy full cases and find somewhere to store the extras? And why am I doing algebra on the weekend!?

Looking back on it, I’m certain this whole endeavor operated at a loss. Dad subsidized it like crazy so I would have a safe — but real —environment to learn in. READ MORE