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KidVenture: Twelve Weeks To Midnight Blue by Steve Searfoss

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KidVenture: Twelve Weeks to Midnight Blue
(KidVenture #1)
By Steve Searfoss
Middle Grade Fiction, Contemporary
Paperback & ebook, 125 Pages
January 26, 2020 by Steve Searfoss

Chance Sterling launches a pool cleaning business over the summer. Join Chance as he looks for new customers, discovers how much to charge them, takes on a business partner, recruits an employee, deals with difficult clients, and figures out how to make a profit. He has twelve weeks to reach his goal. Will he make it? Only if he takes some chances.

KidVenture stories are business adventures where kids figure out how to market their company, understand risk, and negotiate. Each chapter ends with a challenge, including business decisions, ethical dilemmas and interpersonal conflict for young readers to wrestle with. As the story progresses, the characters track revenue, costs, profit margin, and other key metrics which are explained in simple, fun ways that tie into the story.

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About the Author

Steve Searfoss: I wrote my first KidVenture book after years of making up stories to teach my kids about business and economics. Whenever they’d ask how something works or why things were a certain way, I would say, “Let’s pretend you have a business that sells…” and off we’d go. What would start as a simple hypothetical to explain a concept would become an adventure spanning several days as my kids would come back with new questions which would spawn more plot twists. Rather than give them quick answers, I tried to create cliffhangers to get them to really think through an idea and make the experience as interactive as possible.

I try to bring that same spirit of fun, curiosity and challenge to each KidVenture book. That’s why every chapter ends with a dilemma and a set of questions. KidVenture books are fun for kids to read alone, and even more fun to read together and discuss. There are plenty of books where kids learn about being doctors and astronauts and firefighters. There are hardly any where they learn what it’s like to run small business. KidVenture is different. The companies the kids start are modest and simple, but the themes are serious and important.

I’m an entrepreneur who has started a half dozen or so businesses and have had my share of failures. My dad was an entrepreneur and as a kid I used to love asking him about his business and learning the ins and outs of what to do and not do. Mistakes make the best stories — and the best lessons. I wanted to write a business book that was realistic, where you get to see the characters stumble and wander and reset, the way entrepreneurs do in real life. Unlike most books and movies where business is portrayed as easy, where all you need is one good idea and the desire to be successful, the characters in KidVenture find that every day brings new problems to solve.

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I got to Larry’s a few minutes early so I could pick his brain. We had a routine now, I would get to his house five minutes early and he would give me any special instructions as he was walking out the door to work.
“Can I ask you a question, Sir Larry?” He was cool with the nickname now. It was easier than always trying to remember not to call him sir.
“Sure thing.”
“Why did you pick me to clean your pool?”
“I told you the first day we met. You remind me of my son.”
“Hmm, I’m not sure that helps.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I created some flyers to try to get new customers. But it doesn’t seem to be working so well.”
“What does the flyer say?”
“It says clean pools, peace of mind, low price of $20.” I sang my jingle.
“None of those reasons are why I hired you.”
“They’re not?” I was surprised to hear him say that. 
“Why not?”
“They sound like any other pool cleaning company, right? There’s nothing special about them.”
I must have looked shocked, because right away he said, “Don’t get offended, I mean they’re perfectly good selling points. So good, in fact, that you have successfully made yourself sound like a real pool cleaning company.”
“But we are a real pool cleaning company.”
“I know you are.” Sir Larry smiled. “But you’re not your typical pool cleaning company. At least not one run by adults.”
“What’s different?”
“If I call ABC pool cleaning company, first I have to talk to a receptionist and schedule a time when someone can come out here. And usually it’s a big four hour window so I’m not sure exactly when someone is going to show up, so I have to waste half a day waiting for them. And whoever shows up on one day, may not be the same person who shows up the following week. And they probably don’t care about my pool as much as you do. And they’re certainly not as friendly. And I guarantee you none of them call me Sir Larry.”
We both started chuckling at that.
“So you see, I really did hire you because you remind me of my son. You’re a hard-working boy, and I want to support you. You show up when you say you will, and you take pride in what you do.”
“I think I’m starting to understand now.”
“Don’t make yourself sound like a big professional pool cleaning company, because then you’re competing with all the other big professional pool cleaning companies. We’re deep into summer, I doubt anyone is looking to switch pool companies right now.  But there may be more people like me, willing to give a kid like you a chance.”
“Wow, that makes sense. Thank you Sir Larry!”

Excerpted from Kidventure: Twelve Weeks to Midnight Blue by Steve Searfoss, Copyright © 2022 by Steve Searfoss. Published by Steve Searfoss.

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