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Business lessons from a 9 year old.

There's a boy who lives in my neighborhood named Ian. I don't know him well, but he looks to be about eight or nine years old. Despite his young age, this boy has a remarkable business sense. Let me tell you what he's accomplished.

One day I got home from running an errand and found a flyer in my front door. We get quite a few of those so my first instinct was to throw it away, but a picture on the flyer caught my attention. The picture was of Ian standing in front of the sign for the school he attends.

This caught my attention for two reasons. First, the picture was not a professional photo, and almost all advertisements have professional photos on them, so this stood out as different. Second, Ian put his own picture on it, and he's very young, so that stood out as well.

The flyer was offering what Ian calls "Trash Can Valet Service." Trash gets picked up in my neighborhood on Thursday morning, and each home owner is required to get the trash cans back to the house and off the road by Saturday night. But so many people were forgetting (or failing) to bring their trash cans back in a timely manner that the President of our Home Owner's Association had to email everybody with a "reminder" (more like a warning) that they needed to make sure they get their trash cans back in time. This is a requirement because I live in a nice neighborhood and it keeps everything looking nice and clean.

Ian, being the genius marketer he apparently is, saw a need -- people weren't getting their trash cans back in time. So he figured he'd offer to haul the trash cans back for people for a small fee ($1 per can per week). In my case it costs me $4 a week because I have two regular trash cans and two recycle bins. Is it worth it for me? Absolutely! Just saving me the time and inconvenience of having to worry about it is well worth $16 or so a month.

But wait, it gets better!

Ian is only eight or nine years old, and he's not a big kid. The trash cans weigh a fair amount even empty, because they're big. On top of that the trash cans are tall, and Ian isn't. He'd probably wear himself out trying to manually haul all of the cans from the long driveways to the houses. But he doesn't do that.

No, Ian rides his kick scooter around the neighborhood to his clients' homes, and he lays the trash cans down one at a time on the back side of the scooter. He then rides his scooter to the house with the trash can rolling behind it like a trailer (the cans have wheels). Not only is this much faster than doing it by hand (I've watched him do it -- he's quick!) but it's also a lot easier on Ian, so he can haul more trash cans than he would be able to do manually.

I'm telling you, this kid is brilliant.

I'm not sure how many clients he has, but even with only eight clients having three trash cans each (most of my neighbors have three) this pre-teen is making almost a hundred bucks a month with an hours work after school once a week! That means at eight or nine years old he's earning $25 an hour.

Ian is very reliable, never missing a day, and he does a great job. His service is worth every penny.

So let's recap. This extremely young, savvy marketer did the following:

1. Saw a need.

2. Created a product (in this case, a service) to fill the need.

3. Contacted his target market.

4. Worked smarter rather than harder to increase his earning potential.

That's a great formula for success in any business.

And remember, he's only eight or nine years old! So stop making excuses about why you haven't been able to succeed and just follow Ian's example.

Please post your thoughts and questions in a comment below.

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