Starting a business can be a rewarding and educational experience for a child. But without a customer base beyond Mom, Dad and grandparents, your child will not be in business for long. Offering solutions to real-world problems is the heartbeat of a successful enterprise. To guide your child toward business success, help him develop smart answers to these seven questions:
1. What problem do you want to solve?
Make a list of problems people encounter, and brainstorm to identify a creative solution. Then package that solution into a product or service.
2. Who has that problem and is serious about finding a solution?
Many families strive to get healthy, kid-friendly meals on the table. But a Fast & Fun Tofu Recipe Cookbook may only appeal to families who are committed to escaping the fast food lane. One of the biggest mistakes new business owners make is believing everyone is a potential customer. By narrowing your focus, the likelihood of success doesn’t diminish. Quite the opposite is true. Many business experts recommend posting a picture of your typical customer directly above your desk. You can clip this from a magazine or download it from the Internet. Let it be a constant visual reminder of your target audience.
3. Where can you find the people who are serious about solving the problem?
Keeping with the previous example, your target market is likely to shop at a health-food store. Offering to do a free kids’ cooking class inside the store on a Saturday afternoon will put you in the direct path of potential customers.
4. What sets you apart, making your business different from others?
The same God who creates every snowflake to be unique will empower you to create a unique business. He has already poured uniqueness into your appearance, personality, gifting and life experience. Talk to people who know you best. Ask them what’s special about you. Remember: As an entrepreneur, you are the business, so lend your own style to it.
5. How can you communicate your solution to your customers in a compelling way?
Effective marketing offers a clear promise that life will be better if customers buy your product or use your service. It also captures, often in an emotional way, the unfortunate consequences if they don’t. Always include testimonials.
6. How can you deliver the solution in a timely, cost-efficient manner?
Whenever possible, join forces with those who already have access to customers — such as online and traditional store owners looking to carry an additional product or provide an extra service.
7. Who are your competitors?
If you will only operate locally, a quick online search of the local business directory is a good start. So fire up a search engine and get to work. Find out what people are saying, both pro and con. Evaluate pricing, product lines, Web presence and marketing strategies. Observe what other businesses are doing, emulating what works and figuring out what you could do better.