So I’ve heard that if you’re destined to be an entrepreneur in adulthood, you will have had some kind of entrepreneurial endeavour as a kid – you know, lemonade stands and the like. Personally, I don’t believe that’s a requirement to become a successful entrepreneur, but it’s certainly interesting – and often hilarious – to think back to your childhood business ventures.
The summer I was nine, my cousin and I decided to spend a weekend braiding cornrows in people’s hair (don’t judge, it was the early ‘90s) for money at the local park. Having no business exposure (hey this was pre-internet-at home days when your computer experience was limited to playing “Oregon Trail” on floppy disk), we made decisions based on intuition and what we knew – and loved – best: ourselves, and the Spice Girls.
We made quick decisions about our services and what they would cost ($12 for a full head of cornrows, and something like $0.50 for single braids), gave ourselves a brand name (Bria & Michelle’s Hairware) and inadvertently crafted our brand positioning and marketing plan.
That’s right. I said brand positioning and marketing plan. Stay with me here, this is where it gets really good (and also, hilarious).
Our intuitive thought process probably went along the lines of this:
Who would think cornrows were the coolest hair statement ever?
Girls like us.
What would girls like us also love and look up to?
The Spice Girls. (Obviously.)
How would we capture the attention of these girls so they’d beg their parents for a few fivers to get their hair done?
By re-writing the lyrics to the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” and turning it into a jingle.
Yeah, I said JINGLE. We recorded over the original tune and shamelessly played it at top volume on my boombox as we patrolled the park shouting out our brand name and services:
“BRIA AND MICHELLE’S HAIRWARE!! CORNROWS AND BRAIDS!!”
I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want
I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna,
I wanna really, really, really wanna braid your hair down!
If you wanna get your hair done, you gotta show us some cash
We will give you braids to show off to all your friends
If you wanna get your hair done, you have got to give
Style isn’t easy, but that’s the way it is
Braid your hair down and twirl it all around,
Braid your hair down and twirl it all around!
(Oh how I’d love to uncover THAT tape! If you get the Spice Girls stuck in your head for the rest of the day… #sorrynotsorry.)
As comical a vision as this is, it worked. Bria & Michelle’s Hairware made $50 that weekend – a small fortune for two nine year olds. (Just *think* of all the five cent candies we could buy!!)
It worked because our younger selves intuitively understood a few fundamentally important pieces about business and branding that most entrepreneurs either forget, don’t know how to do, or avoid:
1. Know who your people are.
2. Make it really clear what you offer and make sure your people know about it.
3. Be unabashedly authentic in who you are and what you love, and blend it with all that you do.
And yet, we grown up entrepreneurs are often scared of:
- sharing what we offer, whether it be a product, a service, or a distinct point of view
- being our true selves, instead of who we think we should be
- letting others know what we charge and how they can purchase from us
- telling the world exactly who we are, who we want to help, and how we do it
And we’re even more scared of being annoying by making these things clear too often, as if everyone in the world who needs what we offer saw that one time we posted a link to our program / product / services on Facebook. (For the record, they didn’t.)
The truth is, the very things we’re scared of now, are the exact things we MUST get comfortable doing to to support ourselves with what we love, be fulfilled by our self-made careers, and serve our customers.
So ask yourself:
- Do you know exactly who your people are? What they love? What they do on weekends?
- Are you consistently letting your people know what you offer, and how to purchase from you?
- Does your personality shine through in your brand?
- Do you feel authentic in your brand and your marketing efforts?
If you can’t, with 100% certitude, answer a great big HELL YES, then I invite you to start exploring these questions.
What would your 9 year old hustler self do? Tap into the intuition of the little girl you once were. The girl who had GUTS.
Do some journaling, Do some research. Review your website and social media channels, your last blog post or newsletter. Talk to your friends, your family, and your audience. Look for answers and brainstorm ways you can get to a HELL YES.
We’re all in this together,
Ps. If you’re new here, or you’re curious to know a little more about how I started Digital Darlings, what I’m currently working on, and what I’d do with 3 wishes from a genie in a bottle, check out my latest interview – a casual chat with my girl Ashley.