It’s ironic, but sometimes age and experience can actually prevent us from achieving our full potential. The main problem is that we all develop biases and poor habits over time that can severely limit our success. Even worse, as we get older, many of us close our minds, become set in our ways and are less willing to change.
There is something magical about youth and innocence that constantly amazes me. My 14 month old daughter (pictured below) is my first child and I’ve already picked up a tremendous amount of wisdom by just observing her actions. In fact, she has completely changed my outlook on both life and business in just a short span of time without even being able to say a word.
How can a 14 month old possibly teach a grown man about business? She’s not a child prodigy. She can’t even speak or walk yet. What is it about her that helps our online business tick? The answer can be summarized in one word, innocence. My baby girl has no preconceived notions to hold her back. Here’s what taking care of her has taught me about running our online business.
I’ve Learned To Speak Up
I don’t know why, but I have a lot of problems asking for help. If I need assistance or don’t understand something, I have this tendency to try and figure things out on my own even if I have to struggle and waste time. I’m not sure why I am this way. Perhaps it’s because I don’t like to bother other people. Perhaps it has to do with pride. Whatever the reason, not asking for help and not speaking up to ask questions inevitably gets in the way of my progress.
On the other hand, my daughter is fearless. If she wants something or needs help, she lets you know plain and simple. There’s no beating around the bush. She’s direct and doesn’t waste any time. In fact, it continually amazes me what she can get us to do by just pointing her finger and flashing her signature smile.
Watching her in action has taught me to swallow my pride and just ask for what I need. I’ve discovered time and time again that people are usually more than willing to help you out if you have the courage to ask for it.
I’ve Learned To Be Persistent And Try New Things
I’m constantly impressed with my daughter’s problem solving capabilities. Even though she can’t speak or walk, she has this innate ability to get what she wants whenever she wants.
For example the other day, I felt inspired to write so I turned on the computer to work on an article for the blog . But as soon as I switched my desktop on, my daughter decided that she wanted to play with me. Normally, I would drop everything to play with her. But that night, I was physically tired and just wanted to kick back and pump out an article.
However, my daughter had a different agenda. To get my attention, she started yelling at the top of her lungs and pounding her toys on the ground. It was a clever tactic, but I’ve already learned to desensitize myself to noise after she was born. So I ignored her.
Then she started grabbing and pinching my feet to no avail. Without even flinching or looking down, I continued to type on my keyboard. At this point, my daughter was visibly frustrated. But instead of throwing a tantrum, she just sat there thinking with an intense look on her face.
Then, all of a sudden my screen went blank. My little baby girl had hit the power button and shut my computer down. In fact, I lost my entire article!! Frustrated at losing all of my work, I decided to give up on writing for the night and ended up playing with her.
So how were her actions applicable to running my small business? For one thing, her actions reminded me of the need to understand my customers (in my daughter’s case, the customer was me). You have to take the time to find out exactly what the customer is looking for and find out what buttons to push to get their attention.
Sometimes you have to try different tactics through trial and error. In my daughter’s case, she tried making noise and pinching me before finding out that turning off my computer would do the trick. Similarly with any business, you have to try different ways of attracting your customers.
For our online store, we’ve tried various tactics to increase sales such as giving discount coupons, free shipping promotions, product cross selling, product bundling….you name it. The key is to constantly try different tactics and stick with the ones that work.
I’ve Learned To Keep Things Simple
The other day, I found the most amazing toy for my baby girl. In my opinion, it was one of the coolest looking toys that I’ve ever seen. Just to give you an idea, the toy was in the shape of a cube and on each facet of the cube was a dizzying array of lights and buttons. Some of the buttons produced sounds and some of them caused the lights to flash. Some facets of the cube had interesting puzzles to solve. Just take my word for it. It was the ultimate in child toy technology.
In any case, I couldn’t wait to give it to her so I rushed home from the toy store and immediately sat the cube down in front of her, eagerly awaiting her excitement. I waited and waited….but my baby girl was stoic. In fact, she seemed a little confused at all of the buttons, lights and puzzles. After a few minutes, she started ignoring the toy altogether and began playing with the box that it came in.
I learned two things from this experience. For one thing, it was a reminder for me to keep things simple. If all my baby girl wants is a box, then I shouldn’t over do it. The toy was clearly a bit too complicated for a 14 month old girl. Second of all, I learned that my fantastic taste doesn’t necessarily translate to other people.
These lessons are directly applicable to our online business. As store owners, my wife and I need to keep our products as simple as possible. Sometimes providing customers with too many options can overwhelm them and cause them not to make the purchase.
If you need to offer an array of options, make sure that everything is clearly and succinctly documented so the customer understands the choices. In addition, it’s important to remember that you are trying to sell products that appeal to your end customer and not necessarily yourself.
I’ve Learned From Her Determination
If my baby girl could talk, she would make the ideal entrepreneur. Her persistence and determination to learn is way beyond that of any adult that I know. Lately, I’ve been watching her learn how to walk. Even though she sometimes falls flat on her face and even though she sometimes hits her head really hard on the floor trying to walk, she just picks herself back up and tries again. There is no fear and no hesitation. She just does it.
In fact I find it incredible that she’s able to try things time and time again without the fear of failure. Watching her roam around the house and explore, I can tell that she is constantly learning and assimilating an enormous amount of information everyday. Her mind is completely open and she’s willing to give everything a try. Deep down, I wish that I could be just like my baby girl. In fact, we should all aspire to be more like our children.
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