Picture this: You are a young, aspiring entrepreneur. But, like the rest of them, you're a bit strapped for cash. But you have a great idea, and you really truly believe that you can make it work--if only you had a little extra help.

One of the most telling stories from my childhood was when I attempted to throw my first Yu-Gi-Oh card tournament. For those that don't know, Yu-Gi-Oh cards were like Pokémon cards, a collectable game with decks that could be made to battle other players. I participated regularly in the local tournaments at the Books-a-million (remember those?) in our town.

However, I found the local tournaments to be unjust toward us aspiring champions. We had to play on the floor, usually in the Fantasy section of the bookstore. Occasionally, mothers searching for a gift, or other kids, would step right over our games, disrupting the whole match. It was uncomfortable. It was distracting. It was a mess, and I thought who better than me, really, to provide a solution to the Yu-Gi-Oh players of our town.

I was twelve years old.

I went home, found my dad's computer, and in massive Comic Sans lettering I made my first flyer for a Yu-Gi-Oh card tournament, held at our house (I assumed my parents would be fine with the whole endeavor).

I ran over to the printer and collected close to two hundred sheets of paper. This thing was going to be big, I thought. Maybe the biggest tournament ever.

The next weekend, I dropped all two hundred sheets off at the local Books-a-million, speaking with kids individually, explaining to them the ridiculousness of the tournaments we were enduring--and how I was going to host something bigger and better. With prizes. And fruit snacks. And an actual round-robin style tournament, with champions in the end and everything.

On the day of the tournament, I recruited all of my siblings for the big event. It was a Saturday, and I gave each one of them a job. My two younger brothers were responsible for cleaning the basement and setting up the foldable card tables. My sister (an arts-and-crafts kind of girl) was in charge of making signs, directing the competitors from the driveway to the side entrance of the house, all the way down to the basement. When she asked if I would be paying her, I explained the incredible business experience she was about to gain, and the opportunity she had to learn from her older brother. When she gave me an unsatisfied look, I promised her that she could run the register and have a tip jar where she might earn a little something for her efforts.

Her face lit up and she got right to work.

We had the whole thing planned out. And at ten minutes to 2:00 p.m., we all waited by the window for the cars to show up. I figured thirty, forty, maybe a hundred kids were going to arrive. And probably the local news trucks too, big lights in my face, microphones being held out, "Cole, what's it like to be such a tremendously successful young entrepreneur?" I would answer modestly, of course. I was doing this for the kids.

One kid showed up. Just one. A barely-seven-year-old, whose mother effectively dropped him off to be babysat for the afternoon.

It was a complete failure. But it taught me a very valuable lesson.

Your family, your siblings especially, are your first employees, your first interns. Every kid, ever, has a handful of memories when they convinced their siblings to do something for them, or you yourself were convinced by your siblings to get on board with some crazy idea. It's part of the gig, and that's what siblings are for. They are there to support you, to dive in with you, to throw caution to the wind and say, "Let's do this together."

Over the holiday, no matter what age you are now, when you see your siblings, invite them into your world. Share the project you are working on. Talk about what challenges you've got, what your dreams are, and what's next.

This is what siblings do--they help each other. And if you position things right, you might just have a few extra helping hands for a few days.

Never underestimate the power of family.

Published on: Nov 22, 2016
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