What a Child Can Teach You About Running a Business

24 May 2012

The lemonade stand is probably the simplest and most iconic, archetypal image of the typical small business model. As children, many of us might have run a lemonade stand or some similar business, like selling self-drawn comic books at school, or mowing lawns. Recently, a young man made headlines with “Caine’s Arcade.” This DIY arcade, designed by a nine year old boy, features a variety of homemade, cardboard arcade games, and, alongside the classic lemonade stands and lawnmowing jobs and paper delivery routes, teaches us quite a bit about running a business:

1. Make Every Customer Happy

Caine’s Arcade had only one customer for the longest time. Many business owners would pack it in if that happened, but Caine toughed it out, showing up to open his arcade every day for that one customer. That one customer wound up making a short film that made Caine famous. That only happened because of Caine’s willingness to make his entire market happy, whether it’s one customer or a thousand.

2. Give More

Why on Earth would you spend a dollar on a glass of lemonade at a cardboard stand instead of spending a dollar on a quart jug of the stuff at the store? Simple: The experience of visiting a lemonade stand. The kids who run these stands know that their market isn’t going to them because they charge less (if they did, there’d be very little profit margin, considering how few children have access to wholesale lemons and sugar), it’s going to them because they offer more. If all you try to do is charge less, someone will usually charge even less than you, and you’re locked into a race for the bottom. Offer more than the next guy and you’ll be rewarded for it.

3. Love What You Do

If you want to go far in business, in any business, it has to be something that you’re going to love doing. Maybe mowing lawns and delivering papers aren’t fun jobs in and of themselves, but here’s something that is fun: making your own money on your own terms. Freelancing and picking and choosing your own clients. Establishing a brand name and trust in the market. If you can really enjoy this side of business, then you can really make just about anything fun, so it’s not so much about doing what you love as loving what you do.

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