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Business lessons I’ve learnt from my children #1: The power of picking a niche

No! I only sell salted caramel!” – William, aged 3 (at the time, he’s 4 now).

Our children were in the bath, playing a game of ice cream shops with the bubbles. Our daughter said, “William, please can I have a chocolate ice cream?”. William thought for a second and shouted:

“NO! I only sell salted caramel!”.

His chocolate-loving sister was less than impressed. But William recognised that to become a specialist and to attract your ideal customer, you have to turn some people off. His sister might have flounced off to Tesco to buy herself a tub of chocolate, but William is known throughout the land for his epic vegan salted caramel ice cream.

So, if you have a niche, don’t be afraid to shout about it. Maybe don’t replicate William’s slightly rude customer service style, but be proud of what you specialise in. It can feel scary announcing that you DON’T want to attract everyone in the world to your business. But it’s worth it, I promise.

Business lessons I’ve learnt from my children #2: Managing Expectations

“I don’t think I have grapes. I’ll just go and look.”

Not content with letting her little brother get all the business wisdom limelight, our daughter demonstrated an important lesson herself.

The two of them were playing shops again, and as we know, William is all about sticking to his strengths and knowing his niche. But he’s not the man to go to for customer service/customer experience training. No way. He’s often found shouting at his clients, telling them to get out of his shop, or refusing to sell to them.

Not a great way to encourage loyalty.

Luckily his big sister Amber is much more astute when it comes to these topics. At Amber’s shop, she was selling a variety of fruit and vegetables. For some reason, nothing is on display though. She has them all in the other room so I have to put in my request then she goes off to search for what I need.

“Can I have some grapes please?” I ask.
“Ah” she says, “I don’t think I have grapes. I’ll just check.”

She runs off to the other room and I hear her conferring with William, who now works in the stock room. Presumably because of the shouting.

“GOOD NEWS!” she shouts, racing back in. “I have grapes – green AND purple ones!”.

At age 5, she already understands the importance of managing expectations and how a nice surprise is better from a customer experience point of view than overpromising.

Business lessons I’ve learnt from my children #3: Know your worth

NO! It’s £500 or you can’t have it!”

We’re back to William, and his lesson on knowing your worth and not undervaluing your product or service.

Here’s the story. William set up a small, pretend cafe in our kitchen. He’d branched out slightly from only selling salted caramel ice cream and was, inexplicably, peddling onion ice cream and anything else onion-related. The ice cream, in particular, sounded disgusting but I want to nurture his entrepreneurial spirit, so I asked to buy some anyway.

“That’s £500” he said.

“£500?!” I exclaimed, “that’s too much! Can I have it for £2?”.

“NO! Sowwy Mummy, it’s £500 or you can’t have it.”

Now, I’m not suggesting you start selling something disgusting for an unreasonable price. But please, PLEASE know your worth. If you know your product or service sells to your ideal customer at the price you have set, don’t listen to the people who say “It’s too expensive”. It’s not too expensive, they just don’t see the value or aren’t willing to invest (yet).

In the beginning, it can be really hard not to give in because a sale’s a sale. But if you stick to what you know others have been happy to pay in the past. It’ll feel much better and make money conversations a lot easier in future.

Business lessons I’ve learnt from my children #4: The power of perseverance

Next up in my series about business lessons my children have taught me, is Amber’s lesson in perseverance.

When it comes to physical feats, Amber does. not. give. up. When she was learning to dive to the bottom of the swimming pool, learning to skip, learning to do a headstand, she felt ALL the difficult emotions: self-doubt, fear, anger and frustration, to name a few.

But one thing she didn’t do was give up. Once she has decided that she wants to do something, she keeps going, practices, adjusts, tries again and keeps trying until she nails it. Every day, with every one of these skills, we saw small improvements (even if she herself couldn’t see them), and eventually, she got to where she wanted to be. And now she spends all her time underwater, skipping, or on her head.

So here’s the lesson (actually there are two): If you really really want to achieve something or get somewhere, keep going. And even if you don’t feel like you’re making progress, you are – chances are, the people around you can see it way better than you can see it yourself.

Business lessons I’ve learnt from my children #5: Marketing works

“I love you even though I can’t see you”

The importance of marketing, as demonstrated by a 4-year old.

A while back, William (4) was playing in his bedroom and suddenly shouted “MUMMY! I love you, even though I can’t see you.” After bursting into spontaneous tears of love for him, I started thinking about marketing (!)

Sometimes it can seem as though all the effort, love, pain, stress, passion, and time you put into marketing your business is coming to nothing. But you never know when someone might be going about their day, making decisions and thinking about what to spend their money on, when you and your business just pop into their mind.

They think about you even though they’re not looking at you at that particular moment because you’ve done something right at some point in the past to plant a positive seed.

So next time it feels like it’s not worth it – remember, someone out there loves you even though they can’t see you right now. Keep plugging away, the effort will be worth it long term.

Do you have any to share?

If you have or spend time with any children, are there any lessons they’ve taught you about running a business? I’d love to hear them – why not post them on social media (and tag me please so I can see them) or email me – I’ll share my favourites.