At our recent garage sale my entrepreneurial (and highly independent) 6-year-old set up a lemonade stand on the driveway. I watched with interest as she exhibited six key business principles — without ever taking a course in marketing or business administration.
- Follow your dream. Ever since our last garage sale, my daughter talked about having a lemonade stand. She knew exactly what table and chairs she was going to use, what all she was going to sell and where she would position her little business on our driveway. Even though it took two years for us to have our next garage sale, she didn’t give up on her dream.
- Product mix and merchandising are important. Being a shrewd business woman, my daughter knew that not everyone likes lemonade. So she added regular and diet soda and bottled water to her product mix to appeal to a broader customer base. She also knew that she needed to merchandise her table so that customers knew at a glance what they could purchase from her.
- Engage your customer and ask for the sale. My daughter soon learned that you can’t just quietly sit there and look cute to make a sale (at least to anyone other than dad). To make money, you need to greet your potential customer, let them know what you have to offer and ask for the sale. Once my daughter started doing this, her sales increased.
- Courtesy counts. Saying a simple thank you goes a long way toward making your customers feel good, regardless of whether they make a purchase or not. It also reflects well upon the management (in this case, me).
- Networking is good for business. Long before her stand ever opened, my daughter was networking with the other kids in the neighborhood to let them know about her stand. She also took time to visit the other kids’ businesses that weekend to see how they were doing and to make a few purchases. Those kids made sure to return the favor.
- Make the most of downtime. During the times when business was slow-to-non-existent, my daughter checked her stock and added to it, made sure her stand was clean and re-worked her signage in preparation for more customers. During these times, she also made her networking visits to the neighbors in hopes of generating additional business.