What does an entrepreneur look like? Does the name Alina Morse mean anything to you? No. Me neither. Well, not until about 11:30 this morning.
Casually surfing the net – and being generally unproductive – I stumbled across an article from Entrepreneur. It was all about this 13-year-old girl, Alina Morse.
The title of the article was intriguing enough for me to open it. I anticipated scanning the first few lines, loosing interest and moving on. But, I actually read the whole thing. Plus I came away with some ideas about being successful that I’d like to share with you.
If you’re not familiar with Alina’s entrepreneurial story, the general gist is that at age seven Alina decided that she wanted to make and sell sugar-free lollipops. And that’s what she did. You can read the article from Entrepreneur here.
It took a lot of perseverance. Two years of research. Some trial and error. The support of her parents. But in 2015 her company, Zollipops, was born. Alina was nine.
Fast-forward to now and her sugar-free treats are sold online through Amazon as well as in some big American stores, such as Kroger and Whole Foods. Alina employs six full time members of staff. And she has retail sales projected at 5-6 million dollars this year.
Alina is just 13 years old. Thirteen!
Now there’s one snippet of information that I’ve not revealed. And it might just explain where some Alina’s entrepreneurial spirit comes from. Her dad is a Deloitte consultant. So it’s likely there’s business acumen in the family genes.
But this doesn’t detract from Alina’s successes. Nor does it dilute the things I think we can learn from this girl.
So just what are the lessons we can learn from this teenage entrepreneur?
1. Explore Opportunities
The main difference between an entrepreneur and a non-entrepreneur is that where most folk simply see an opportunity, an entrepreneur will explore that opportunity.
It becomes an itch that has to be scratched. And so the entrepreneur will do their research. They will decide whether it is worth a calculated risk. And they will act on their instinct.
So Alina saw a gap in the market for sugar-free lollipops. She did her research. It took time. But she explored that opportunity to its fullest. And, on the basis of her research, decided to take her idea off the drawing board and make it reality.
For most kids – heck make that most adults – that good idea would have remained just that: an idea. And that leads us on to the second point.
2. Be Prepared to Act
Kids are brilliant. Especially when they’re very young. And they’re brilliant because they’re fearless.
If you’re a parent you’ll know what I’m talking about. Like that heart-stopping moment when our little ones decide to launch themselves off the top stair. We bolt across the room to catch them because we know they’ll get hurt if we don’t.
But kids haven’t learned about consequences yet. Not really.
Understanding cause and effect is both a blessing and a curse. As adults we’ve learned not to throw ourselves down the stairs because we know it’ll be bloody painful. But that self-preservation can also hold us back.
Those nagging “what if” thoughts plague our minds and stop us from taking action.
What if nobody likes my product? What if nobody reads my blog? What if I lose my stable job? What if I run out of money? What if I fail?
It reminds me of a scene from The Croods. You know the one. Where Guy tells the story about the tiger who fell from the cliff. But the tiger didn’t fall; she flew all the way to tomorrow. [If you’ve not watched it – do – it’s a pretty good kids’ film.]
Alina said it herself:
“I really didn’t see the risk, because I felt like I had nothing to lose.”
Admittedly, most of us have more to lose than your average seven-year-old. And I’m not suggesting we should just throw caution to the wind to pursue all our dreams.
But to be successful we have to be prepared to take action. Research that good idea. Make it a side hustle. Incubate it. Nurture it. Grow it. If it works, great. If not, we’ve probably learned a heck of a lot and we can try again with a new idea.
3. Build Positive Relationships.
We’ve all met that business person. You know the type. The one who will only act for self-interest. Who grows at the expense of others. Who will screw over anyone and everyone to get ahead.
I don’t buy in to that kind of success. The world has enough of those sort of people.
But that doesn’t mean I buy into self-sacrifice either.
One of the things that struck me about Alina was that she got this. One of her marketing strategies was to include some of Kroger’s other products. She understood that building a positive relationship with the retail giant would be a good move for both businesses. They would both benefit.
You might argue that this is the old tactic of standing on the shoulders of giants. But showing your worth and offering reciprocity with other businesses is a winner for building a solid network and growing your potential reach.
This is mutually beneficial. And it works no matter what business you’re in.
4. Stay True to You.
“I’m just like everyone else. That’s how I want to be.”
You might think that building a successful mutli-million dollar business before your 13th birthday would result in a massively over-inflated ego. And, for some people, it might.
I think a lot of Alina’s charm – and a contributing factor to her continued success – is that she wants to be thought of as a normal kid. Because that’s what she is. She goes to school. She goes to dance class. She doesn’t want to miss her friends’ birthday parties. And she’s not afraid to laugh at herself.
She wants other people to be happy. And healthy.
I think we can all learn from this. It’s so much easier to just be ourselves. Will everyone like us? Of course not! Does it matter? Nope. Not a damn bit.
Fake can bring quick wins. But it can’t sustain prolonged success. So we should be comfortable and confident with who we are. Doing that will attract the right business partners. The loyal social media followers. The repeat buyers.
So that’s it. These are the lessons I think we can learn from a successful child entrepreneur. I’m not saying we will all become multi-millionaires if we follow these principles.
And of course we all have different ideas of what success looks like. But I think Alina showcases some of the key attributes needed to build and maintain a successful business.
Now over to you. What would you add to this list? Or maybe you’d like to share your entrepreneurial experiences. What tips and advice would you like to share. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.