Selling it, kid style

I live in a neighborhood of budding young entrepreneurs, which might be due to the socio-economic status of the parents. But as I take my daily walks, I get the shake down from five-year-olds who can barely talk but who can, at least, point to their wares such as five-cent, hand-painted popsicle sticks. I need to start carrying change with me. It’s hard to say no to a girl in Juliette-inspired dress with a lisp and waving a wand.

Fortunately, there’s no organic lemonade. Stands are, if admirably solid, still lacking polish, making them more appealing than if they looked as though an over-achieving parent had slaved to craft a mini Starbucks.

These kids have a natural business savvy. Many of us business owners bang our heads trying to figure out how to convince someone to hire us or even what specifically we sell. We look for just the right persuasive words. We wait to till our message is perfect before putting it out into the world. Only perfect never comes.

The most basic things really work:

• Meeting people where they are

• Delivering good service

• Being enthusiastic about your product or service

• Having a niche (lemonade or rocks or popsicle sticks, not all three)

• Create incentives to keep them coming back

On the way back from the market one day, I came across three boys. “Rocks for sale!” the youngest one yelled as he ran around a tree. “Spend five dollars and you get a coupon!” he shrieked.

A coupon for what, I asked the little boy. A coupon for more rocks, of course.

These three boys had a relaxed moxie and an air of confidence about their product, of which I found myself almost envious. A particularly interesting fossilized shell would set me back $1.50. I offered a dollar and they accepted—a little too quickly; their only weak point. But then I found a bright pink polished beauty that was only fifty cents. Still, I offered the dollar.

“I guess that makes me a pretty stupid customer,” I said.

The bouncy little boy yelled a little too loudly, “No it doesn’t. It makes you a smart customer!” He couldn’t say why when I asked him, but his sureness won me over and I was satisfied with being a smart customer.

No wonder they’d managed to amass over forty dollars in a few days. Fortunately, I’m not trying to sell rocks because the competition is stiff down the street.

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