Top Startup Tips I Learned from my 6 Year Old Nephew


There is so much good advice for entrepreneurs, with the most popular one saying “Just do it”. But what I didn’t realise was that my 6 year old nephew knows it all already. Here’s the story.

I have three nephews. They love and hate each other at the same time, hundred times a day. One day, the 6 year old wanted to buy a lego set that costs $10. As he had saved only $7.75 — he desperately needed to get the remaining dollars. At this point I thought he will just ask if anyone can give him some money, and will continue to rule the house and, as viewed by his younger brothers, the world. And he did…

The way he did it inspired me to share this beautiful example of persistence in reaching your goals by doing, trying and experimenting.

“KALE AND MINT FOR SALE!” — I heard from the outside.

After a few minutes he came back with a bunch of kale and mint from the garden. He proudly announced his plan to sell it. In an hour, kale and mint was bought by a very kind neighbour for $1 (ka-ching!) and the lego set was getting closer and closer to reality. Kale and mint turned out to be a successful sale, but it wasn’t enough to buy the desired lego set.

The next product was a bucket of flowers. „Does it look beautiful?“ — he asked me. Well, guess what I said…

At that time we were about to go to an art festival in Palo Alto, but to my surprise my nephew didn’t freak out and didn’t leave his business without a thought. He placed the flowers in cups, lined them up on top of the fence, added stickers with prices, sticked a plastic bag below, and wrote a note on the plastic bag (p.s. he wrote it ALL BY HIMSELF without asking anyone’s help): „Plez pote mane here“. Just in case you aren’t quite sure, it’s “Please put money here” written in a 6-year-old’s style.

My. Jaws. Dropped. I felt so proud!

LESSONS LEARNED

  1. Go for it. NOW. There isn’t a better time to start something new than it is now. Have you had an idea for a while and been hesitating or procrastinating? If you get it out there now — you will feel so much better about yourself and you will be getting closer to your goal. So go ahead and make those plans a reality. One step at a time. There is no need to wait for the perfect time, decision or moment. The perfect moment is now and the best thing is to get your idea our to the world. It will teach you what’s best for the next step.
  2. Don’t try to make it perfect. Perfection will make you lose time and you can’t afford that. Someone else might be working on it faster, better and more passionately. You want to get it out there, practice, learn, iterate, improve, pivot… it’s all about learning and making it better.
  3. Be there. Promote it yourself. Be there for your product and your customers. Listen to what they say and empathise. Try to understand how they feel, what they want and remember, that “it’s not a customer’s job to know what they want” (Steve Jobs). You need to get that information by observing, talking and understanding them.
  4. Embrace uncertainty. You will learn so much from your experiments. Some products or sales will be more successful, some will be less — but you will learn a lot. It will also help you get out of your comfort zone and boost your problem solving skills.
  5. Don’t be shy or embarrassed to share your product with the world even if you think it’s not at it’s best yet. Be bold. Go for it and eventually you’ll get what you’re aiming for.

If you were wondering, my nephew bought that lego set. This time he achieved his goal, but he only achieved it because he went for it with confidence, persistence, creativity and problem solving. He didn’t ask for permission, his character is rather to ask for forgiveness. Which is such a must skill when you are in a startup! We are all creative problem solvers, let’s try to practice this more often and not lose that inner child within ourselves. Let’s aim for that lego set.