Our misgivings about the coming winter gave way to thanksgiving for snow.

The fluffy stuff started falling in earnest first in the mountains, where we need it for irrigation water and winter recreation; and then right here in town, where it adds to the holiday charm.

But like a bike left out all winter, our reactions were a little rusty.

Some walks were shoveled before the snow started to melt. Today, after the brief thaw and subsequent refreeze of nightfall, they are free of ice.

Not waiting too long to shovel proved a good idea, because those patches that were spared the snow blade today are hard, icy casts of every boot and sled to pass by yesterday.

Of course, not everyone was in town over the holiday weekend to shovel their snow. And not everyone is able-bodied enough to brave the cold right away, weighing the possible thaw from their front window.

This is where kids come in.

Snow shoveling is the more useful, more lucrative wintertime cousin of the lemonade stand. A kid with a good pair of boots and a snow shovel can do worse than waking up before school and checking to see if theres work to be done.

All it takes is the slightest flicker of an entrepreneurial spirit to spark a roaring business in the wintertime.

Parents: teach your children about hardwork.

And kids: make a few bucks.

Begin with a business plan. Some questions to answer:

How much time do you have before or after school to shovel walks?

How long will it take you to shovel the walks in front of one house in your neighborhood?

How many houses can you shovel in the allotted time?

Now it is time to set a competitive rate for your services.

Can you shovel 12 houses in an hour? At 50 cents a shoveling, you could earn $6 per snowfall. Thats not small potatoes in fact, its several large fries.

Or consider selling your neighbors snow-shoveling subscriptions on a monthly basis. At $1 a month, for example, you might shovel their walk once or you might shovel it a dozen times.

Once you have a product defined, go door to door selling your service. Sell your services, and sell gift shovelings neighbors can give to on another.

Regardless of your business plan, leave room for what every successful businessperson knows belongs in your budget: charity.

If you can shovel 12 walks and have 11 paying customers, pick one neighbor for whom you will do the shoveling for free.

Maybe its a neighbor with a disability, or a single mother with two children and a job; an elderly widow, or even the only vacant house on the block.

Its what business is about: finding a niche and filling it to not only make money, but to give your time, expertise or money where it is needed.