Back when I was ten years old, the world was a much simpler place. Cell phones came in brief cases, an iPhone was a phone you had your eye on and marketing often meant putting together a simple flyer on my dad’s copy machine.
However, for all that times have changed radically since the 1980s, things have also stayed the same. Moreover, if you ask a ten year old about how to do marketing, whether it was then or now, they’re likely to offer you some great advice. Like this:
I used a Commodore 64 computer to type up my homework soon after I retired my electric typewriter with the LCD screen. I also built my own IBM-XT compatible computer. Why? Because I understood that these things were the wave of the future and I was right. By knowing about these things, I had a head start on building up a business.
These days, asking a ten year old kid about the hottest new trends in technology is still a great idea. Your ten year old can probably run circles around you on the computer and she can probably tell you everything you could possibly need to know about how to use that technology to get the word out about your products.
Of course, if you don’t happen to have a ten year old handy to ask about it, just check online to see what the latest trends are and try to use them (Pinterest for example is the rising star online, though not so much with the kids). You can also look at places like Google trends and even some popular Facebook pages. Go and search for pages which match you niche and which are popular and you can see what people are talking about.
Ask about Santa
Your ten year old kid may well still believe in Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny (well, maybe not – depends on how mature he is. But a five year old almost definitely would still believe in it). Now I’m not telling you that you’ve got to believe in Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny. However, believing in yourself and your ability to get things done is important.
In other words, just like your kid has faith that Santa will show up with presents to put under the tree every year, you need to believe that you will be able to do what needs to be done. I’ve often said that being a successful entrepreneur means being able to learn from and handle failure in an effective way. That means that you accept that you may well fail at a particular task, but ultimately, you’ll treat it as a learning experience.
In fact, many successful entrepreneurs were failures in their early efforts and only later managed to find their way to success. Even someone like Steve Jobs, one of my childhood heroes, was once considered an abysmal failure and has been. The thing is, he never stopped trying and never stopped believing in himself. So while you may no longer buy into the Santa story, you should at least believe in yourself.
Do Your Homework
How often have you told your kids that they need to do their homework before they get to watch TV? Okay, maybe you don’t have kids (I don’t), but you still know what I’m talking about. We humans tend to be a lazy bunch and we would prefer not to have to work hard and instead be able to play all day long. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. As a kid, you had to do your homework or you would get into trouble and as an adult, you also need to do your homework or you’ll get into trouble.
So what do I mean by doing your homework? Well for starters, before you begin a new business, take the time to do the research. Find out what your competitors are offering and what they charge. See how saturated the market is before you decide to just jump into it head first. And do your keyword research. Assuming this is an online business, you’ll want to be optimized for keywords so that your SEO works well.
Now that you have your business running, your homework is just beginning. That blog of yours isn’t going to update itself. Your customers won’t show up at your website just because you pray to the gods of late night TV while you munch Doritos and drink a frosty can of Bud.
You need to do the work to get people to your website, which means that you build backlinks, you do SEO, you do the work of getting your name out there and you do the best job you know how to do. In other words, don’t just do your homework – aim for getting an A from the teacher. Don’t forget – the kids who get an A from the teacher often end up being the ones who make the most money in life.
Revel in Snow Days
As a ten year old kid, I and all my friends absolutely lived for the snow day – that day when the heavens dumped so much snow onto the ground that New York City (I grew up in New York) would shut down and we’d have a day off. We’d go out and make snowmen, throw snowballs and even try making makeshift sleds.
Now I’m not literally saying to look for snow days and hope you get out of going to “school” (i.e. working). Instead, what I’m saying is that you should enjoy those rare unexpected moments in life.
Whether it’s a sudden opportunity to get into a business which you didn’t think you might ever be interested in or it’s a chance at an actual snow day where you can take off one magical day from work and enjoy spending the time with your family, be prepared to do so. Don’t just fall into a rut and say that you’re not going to take advantage of these things because falling into a rut and not taking advantage of opportunities is the way that losers end up whining that they don’t get anywhere in life.
Try to Make Friends with the Popular Kids
I know it’s incredibly shallow of me to say this and I apologize a thousand times over to every single kid who has ever been bullied. I’m not literally saying that any kid should be so shallow as to think that their sense of self-worth needs to be attached to someone else’s coat tails. In fact, I believe exactly the opposite (I’m also a former school teacher and always despised the so called “popular” kids who would pick on a weak kid and torment him or her).
Now, that having been said, I did bring this up for a reason. Even though I believe this is the absolute wrong practice to follow in school, I believe this is very much the right practice to follow in life and especially online. In essence, you want to follow the trend setters and grab onto their coattails.
These are the big names in websites, the people who have already made it. They have something to teach you and they have name recognition to offer to your new business. So look for links from these places and look for opportunities to do joint ventures and to get yourself involved with them in any way you can. You can then ride their coattails to the top.
Okay, this may sound like the antithesis of the advice immediately above, but I assure you that it isn’t. Well, not exactly. You see, just as there are many kids who try to ride someone else’s coattails to the top of the popularity ladder in school, there are also the kids who don’t care if they come off as sounding weird as long as they get to be themselves.
Now I’m not saying you have to be weird, though being funny does help a lot if your goal is to build yourself up and make some real money online. However, even as you are riding the coattails of someone else who is super popular all the way to the top of the rankings, you also need to consider how you will make yourself into an individual.
The fact is that neither Google nor your visitors will really want to see an exact copycat of whatever it is that someone else is doing. They’re going to want to see your new spin on an old concept so that you can then wow them and let them feel as if you have a reason to be noticed too. This means that you should be yourself even as you are trying to use others’ popularity to rise to the top.
Keeping Looking Forward
As a ten year old kid, I dreamt of the day when I would be a grownup and I also dreamt of the day when I’d graduate to junior high school and then high school, where the “big boys” were. As an adult, I try to always find things to look forward to even though I know that I no longer have the aspiration to become a “grown up” and I’m not particularly looking forward to the next major stage in my life (retirement, which is still distant, but as a middle aged man, it’s basically the next step).
On the other hand, just like the 10 year old kid who had dreams about the future, I still do have dreams about the future as well. I still have plans for myself and I know what I want to do with my life and my business. As a business owner, you should be making plans for your business and looking to “graduate” to the next “grade” by growing your business each and every year.
Best of luck to all of you and thank you for taking the time to stroll along memory lane with me while I looked back at childhood.