I was 11 years old and the name, A.I.C. & M., Inc., (pronounced “ace and em” was derived from my initials, plus I knew that “Ace” had some marketing juice, at least it did back then (think Ace Hardware)!
Of course, I was the chief cook and bottle washer, the only employee. My most successful division was T.R.P. – short for “traveling rubbing parlor,” and my best and only customer of that division was my dad, who was what we now call a raving fan.
Although at that age I giggled whenever anyone tried to rub my feet, I understood that a business must deliver what its customers, not we, want.
I had already learned some key marketing lessons:
– the best form of marketing takes an educational approach (“The Understanding Booklet”)
– offer several levels of service and pricing (I had two levels of foot massage available)
– focus on benefits (“You are the master!” – who could resist that?)
– let people test out your products and services (“you can test us on a few things”)
– always have a call to action (“If you have a job to do, contact us!” – a little lame, but not bad for an 11 year old)
My second most popular division did not appear on the above marketing piece. It was my candy store. I bought candy from the local grocery store (Canada mints, as I recall) and resold them at a profit to my delighted customers, my mother and sister.
Yes, entrepreneurial qualities tend to surface early in life. However, whether we start earlier or later, we all must go through much trial and error to learn the ropes of starting and running a successful business.
No matter how awkward, lame or inexpert our first attempts may be, the brilliance is in starting, and then learning, tweaking and trying some more. Not every venture will pan out, but as countless real life success stories have shown, quantity eventually leads to quality.
So whether you’re 11 years old or 91, get out there and keep throwing stuff against the wall!