My daughter has a cupcake business.

So far, Mom and Dad are her angel investors.

We buy all the supplies. She uses items from our pantry to make her sweet treats. When she sells an order, she keeps all the profits. (She keeps the tips, too.)

I use profits in the loosest sense of the word; we haven’t calculated the cost of the supplies. My guess is that the cost of the cupcakes is barely covered by her price, if it is covered at all. If you factor in all the free samples we give away, all the cupcakes we eat, and the cost of the flour and powdered sugar she spills on the floor, then this business is certainly in the red.

I’m also in charge of marketing for her business. I hired a designer friend to create a logo for her. I used Klout perks to get her some (nearly free) mini-cards, branded with her logo. (We’re both in love with the work that Moo does.) I set up her Facebook page, and I update it regularly. She’s too young for her own account, but sometimes she updates her page from my account.

I’m not really concerned about my investments of time, money, and supplies.

Here’s why:

She’s 10. She loves to bake. I love seeing the excitement in her eyes when someone places an order. I love that she can create delicious cupcakes from scratch, start to finish, without any help. I love to see her generosity in sharing free samples with our friends and neighbors. I love seeing her creativity in inventing new creations. I love that she involves her little sisters (sometimes.)

I don’t care about profit and loss. I don’t even care about all the extra dishes she’s making that I end up washing later. There is great value in the business (beyond money): learning, responsibility, generosity, and kindness.

It’s really not about the money.

I’m starting a business right now, too.

I’ve been working on a product for nearly six months. I’m investing a lot of time and energy. I’m investing money, too.

When you’re a grown up, the stakes on any business are much higher.

Yes, I can do this because I love it, to learn from the process, to be generous to others. I can do it for the joy I find in the creative process and for the sweetness in seeing my projects completed.

At some point, though, money matters.

How do you measure the value of your work?

I wonder… do you count the hours of free work and compare them to the hours of paid work?

Do you consider the cost of all the free information and value you share?

Do you see a return on your investment of time, energy, and information shared?

Does it matter to you?

Do you only see value in what pays? Or do you realize that you offer value even when you’re not making money through your efforts?

Does money equal value?

Or is value found somewhere else?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.