(May 14, 2013) Last summer, my 7 year old decided to become an entrepreneur. He decided to open his own mobile tattoo parlor. He carried markers around with him, offering to draw a tattoo on your hand, your arm, or your face. He drew Star Wars characters and smiley faces and others I wasn’t too sure about. He did really well; I was proud of him. He sold his tattoos for $1 each and he made $10 in one weekend. (Yeah, I bought 2.)
I learned 7 things from my 7 year old that weekend about business. These lessons are true whether you’re making money on the side, working alone out of your home, starting a business, or running a business with multiple employees.
- Just. Start. Get out there and try something. It’s been said that you should start today, because if it works, that’s one more day you’ll have done something right. If it doesn’t, you’ve got tomorrow. Doesn’t matter if it’s opening a new location in your business or trying out a new marketing strategy or starting a business from scratch. If you wait for the perfect moment, it will never come.
- Use the skills you’ve got. My son is good at talking to people and he’s a good artist. That’s how he made $10. If you have employees working for you, are you putting them in a position to succeed? Are you helping them do what they do best, and be at their best? If it’s just you, does your business give you the chance to use your strengths and know-how?
- Don’t wait for others to come to you. After sitting on the porch waiting for people to walk by and buy his tattoos, my son made the decision to start walking our neighborhood asking for business. Brave kid! It’s easy to say, “All of my business is word-of-mouth.” Congratulations; you’re missing opportunities. Don’t let anyone tell you what should or shouldn’t work when it comes to telling others about your business. If you’ve got a chance to tell people about what you do, don’t miss it.
- Go talk to people you don’t know. My son didn’t wait for family to come over or our church small group to get together. He went to front doors he’d never been to before. If you’ve got a Facebook page for your business, how many of them are your friends and family? How many new customers do you have on a weekly basis? How often are you in the community representing your business?
- Learn fast. While we were walking up and down the sidewalks to our neighbors’ homes, we kept getting no answer at the door. It was Saturday afternoon; people were out. I asked him what we should do differently. His answer was simple: “We should try another time today.” Fast learner. How many workshops have you attended this year? Keep track of your learnings somewhere. Maybe it’s Evernote, an old spiral journal, audio notes, whatever works for you. Never stop learning.
- Don’t let “no” discourage you. One of the prospects our budding entrepreneur approached was the crew chief of the lawn maintenance guys at our house that day. My son walked right up to him and asked him to buy. I wish I had that much courage! The crew chief, after looking around nervously, said “no thank you.” My son walked right over to the next person on the crew and asked him. He got a “yes.” It’s OK if it doesn’t work. It’s not OK if you stop trying. Know what needs to get done in order for you to reach your goal. Don’t let anything get in your way.
- Get someone with experience to go with you. When he decided to leave the porch, he was nervous about walking the neighborhood. He did what you’d expect a young child to do. He asked Daddy to go with him. Of course I did. Don’t go it alone. Ask for help. Business will be lonely. Business will be tiring. Business will be discouraging. The journey is worth the challenges, but it’s always better to go together than go alone.
And one to grow on…
- My son is 8 years old now, and he hasn’t gone out there since that weekend last summer. I’ll push him out there again this summer if he doesn’t take initiative. When I do, I’ll do it knowing that his success will be harder to come by. Why? Because it will have been my idea, not his. True success and fulfillment comes from within. It can’t be forced upon you.
A small group of people—a business—can change the world. Small groups of people are all that has ever changed the world. What in the world is waiting on your business to start acting like a life-changing machine? What in the world are you waiting on to start putting your business to work changing lives—yours, your employees’, your customers, and beyond?
By Blue Ribbon News special contributor Trey Finley of Rowlett, a business coach certified through ActionCOACH, the world’s #1 business coaching franchise, ranked #77 on Entrepreneur’s list of franchises worldwide. Visit his website at rockwallbusinesscoach.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/actioncoachtrey.