When I was 11, I made 12 cookie bags and I wanted to sell them to students at Stanford. Easy as pie, I thought. Little did I know that it is much harder than that. I did it but I had to iterate a lot and improvise on the spot.
My parents run an innovation lab. So naturally, I wanted to do what they did: have my own business. So, along with my brothers, Eli and Isaac, I went to the Stanford Quad and tried selling twelve cookie bags. It took a lot longer than my impatient self wanted. In this post, I am going to tell you about the lesson I learned that day.
When I first got the idea of selling cookies, I made this massive list of things that I would sell in one day. Cookies, cornbread, pie… You name it. I told my dad about this gigantic list I was now calling “the master list” then, he said that I needed to iterate.
I needed to see what the people liked, and I needed to see if my one product was excellent. Think back to Apple in the 90s; they were trying to make too many products. When you are first selling something, start smaller. Iterate. See what the customers want. You need to see if your one product is insanely great.
Know Your Customers, Time, and Place
You should know your customers.
I knew that college students liked sweets. In my mind, it was: College students like sweets = a ton of profit in minutes. Study your customers more in-depth than I did. Check the time. Is it a school break? Are their classes in session? You can also ask these kinds of questions in a digital brand. Do students have that much money to spend?
Even with all of the strategies I have written here, be ready if your profit margin isn’t as large as you would have liked. Also, think of what Rabbi Hillel said in the Talmud.
A soldier asked Hillel if he could tell him about the Torah while he was standing on one foot. The Rabbi said, “Don’t do unto others what you would not like to be done unto yourself. Now go and study.” I tried asking my dad if he could tell me how to sell a product while I was standing on one foot. He said, “That’s not how it works. ” Keep iterating.