The first business lesson I learnt from my parents

I was 8–9 years old when mom was driving the van full of vegetables 250km away in the mountains, heading to the weekend market in another small town. Dad was already there, waiting for more produce from home. While I was growing up, my parents were ‘side-hustling’: they were growing vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers) in our garden and for the weekends they were heading to small cities in the margins of Transylvania to sell them. Sometimes I was left to sleep at a Hungarian family, with 2 girls who didn’t speak Romanian, learning how to sell in their small shop the vegetables from our garden among other food items.

Other times, I was sleeping in the van next to mom and dad, and then staying all day long in the market. If I had a Fitbit at that time, it would have shown way more than 10.000 steps a day, while I was running between their tables, to change money, ask for peppers, or share the home prepared meal.

Each of them had their own tables: dad had fresh tomatoes, crisp, perfect for a summer salad and he was successfully selling everything while spicing the conversation with words like “köszönöm” (thank you in Hungarian). Couple of tables away there were the sweeter, well ripen, ready for winter broth tomatoes, which mom was selling next to changing recipes with the local women.

On Sunday evening we were heading back home with the van empty. I was ready for the books to read in the summer holiday, they were ready to go back to their jobs.

Almost 20 years later, I’m reading books about business, marketing, product management — they all mention how important it is to know your product and how they cover for the people needs. They all sounds familiar and just now I realised that I was lucky enough to see the principles applied first hand, with my parents. This is the first business lesson I learnt from them, without them even thinking about teaching me about it: how important is to know the product (tomatoes), the product added value (multiple purposes / recipes), the target audience (mothers, cooks) and to provide the right context for the sale.

Now, take this as challenge to dig deep in your past and find a lesson your parents taught you just with their actions.