As a 6th grader, over 33 years ago, I sold Haribo Gummy Bears and Gummy Cola Bottles generously packed into 35mm film canisters for $1 within my marketplace of Bear Creek Intermediate school in Keller, Texas. With no career coach on staff to guide me or being required to mortgage away my future home to attend sales/marketing seminars from the “gurus” in the industry targeting 6th graders; I did what any 6th grader in 1983 would do…I thought like a 6th grader.
Pulling the Pieces Together
If you bring this forward to the present and put some professional terms to it; I analyzed my marketplace for a demand, performed a SWOT analysis, determined viability of the business model, self-funding or needing investors, secured suppliers for: products, packaging, logistics, distribution and best sales channels for maximum ROI impact.
You may ask yourself how could a 6th grader 33 years ago, have found all those resources and performed those business functions. Glad you asked. Let me explain.
- Analyzed Marketplace…Kids love candy.
- SWOT…I knew which candy kids wanted but with little capital and other resources to bring it to market. Great opportunity with no school snack machines on campus (think 33 years ago) and I had great relationship with the T&P Suite (Teachers and Principals); but could run into being shut down by teachers or principal due to policy or complaints.
- Business Model…I had to find and line up all my resources to make money and lock up the market on campus. The bags of gummy colas and gummy bears costs around $2.50 each with quantity of 40 and 60, respectively in each bag and the film canisters were free. I could stuff about 7 gummy colas in a canister and 10 gummy bears in another canister. If you work the numbers, I was rolling in the $$ for a 6th grader 33 years ago.
- Self-Funding or Investors…Allowance and birthday money or ask angel investor (Mom) to help pay for inventory.
- Suppliers…Product: Local grocery store. Packaging: Father’s 35mm film canisters (washed). Logistics: Mom. Distribution: Me and my book bag. Sales Channels: Me and manual social media (word-of-mouth).
For those wondering what happened to my candy dynasty, it ended on a challenging note. The last day of school, before summer break and before going to the Junior High across town for 7th grade; my school bag was robbed of my cash box. I was playing Wall Ball (Butts Up) and left my bag just around the corner where I could still see it while I played and waited for my mom to pick me up from school. One of my competitors, bully, thief or an adoring fan must have been watching until my back was turned and took my cash box and left the bag unzipped. The price of fame and fortune.
I planned on starting back up my business in 7th grade but quickly learned they didn’t allow selling products on campus and thus ended that business; however, I didn’t take way the experience and taste of the glory of entrepreneurship. I started looking for the next opportunity…that is another story.
How many times have you heard or read about evaluating the marketplace is too difficult to do or as we get older we become less inspiring and more expiring?
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph to evaluate your market you need to think like them. Pretty simple but we complicate it just like our dreams. If you were to ask a child what he/she wanted to do when they grow up, we get a handful of answers and some are bold or maybe even “impossible”. But that is just it…as we get older we have a load of information stored in our brains through our experiences to tell us the chance of success is 1 in a 1,000,000 and focus on the 1,000,000 vs. a child sees the “1” because they don’t know anything about the other 999,999 nor even that they exist a potential roadblock or threat to their dream!
I greatly enjoy both the articles and LinkedIn profile of Liz Ryan. Her view of HR is more than accurate on the HR mindset stereotypes but earth shattering on how HR should fit into today’s business structure. Before and after I was introduced to Liz Ryan’s insight I was known as a manager with low turnover and out-of-the-box or some might say unorthodox interviewing practices. I informed them they were going to interview me first and when they are done I had a few questions. Many didn’t know how to react and would give me the programmed answer to the ill-prepared interview question, “tell me about yourself.” One of my favorite questions was asking them about their dream job with no restrictions and it could be the job they were interviewing for, a mixed title one or one that doesn’t even exist. The answers were both inspiring, insightful and refreshing for both of us.
My challenge to each of you is to pull out those old notes, drawings, dusty file folder on your computer labeled “dream job” or revisit the thoughts you had of what you really wanted to do when you grew up. It is never too late to try and today would be a great day to start your dream job and meet.