What I learned about success from a seven-year-old

You know those stories and lessons you learned from your parents that have always been with you? That little voice in your head that says, “you are in control of you, nothing else,” or “you always have a choice, you might as well make it a good one.”

Well, education doesn’t always flow downhill.

One day when my oldest was seven, she brought home an assignment from school. Her goal was to choose at least one of six simple machines, make it and then present it to the class explaining how the machine makes work easier.

An ambitious youngster, she wasn’t satisfied making one simple machine. Plans included a desk model that incorporated all six.

This is a smart kid but I’d be fibbing if I said I wasn’t a little concerned about the presentation. That’s a lot of information for a young mind to remember and present.

But off she went, drawing up her plans and putting together her production. She wrapped a story around two Little Tykes people who had to travel to the top of her cardboard Lookout Hill. The Little Tykes went through the gate (lever) to board the moving platform that was held in its parking spot by a wedge before it was pulled up the hill (inclined plane) by a car (wheel and axle) and a rope with a pulley. The pulley was held in place by a screw.

She must have gone through that presentation for us 20 or more times before she had to do it in front of the class. She was committed to getting that story down pat.

And she did.

When it came time to tell her story, she nailed it. She was prepared, confident in herself and, as a result, she met with great success.

Then I started thinking about the process that led to her success. As it turns out, it is exactly the same process anyone can use to achieve success in their own lives:

Preparation. Confidence. Success.

One inevitably leads to another.

So how can you prepare to achieve even greater success in your own business? Start with preparation.

Here is a little exercise: First, list all the benefits you offer. If you are a marketer, you may list these: you can help your client look good; you can help her sell more; you can take that marketing assignment off her desk, giving her time to do her real job of managing her business; you can give her peace of mind knowing that it will be done right—and whatever other benefits you offer.

All those benefits give people a reason to buy your product or service. But there is one more thing. Why should they buy from you? How are you different?

You must determine that one reason people should choose you over and above every other choice, including doing nothing. That’s called your unique selling proposition (USP) and that’s what will make people buy from you.

Then read the list, but especially the USP, many, many, many times. Commit it to memory. Recite it on the way to the office, the hockey game and the kids’ dance classes. Get it in your head in a way that you’ve never had anything in your head before. Know it in excruciating detail.

Now, list all the questions your clients could possibly ask—especially the tough ones: Why are you so expensive? How are you better than the next guy? List every objection and every possible query that could ever come up.

Then take the time to write out your answers until you are satisfied that your case is solid. (“You’re right, I’m not the cheapest guy in town but I don’t sell what they sell. I bring incredible value to the table including. . .” “We are a better choice for your firm because we don’t market to people to just inform them or raise awareness. We market to sell. We help you move more product and increase revenue.”)

What’s the point of this exercise? This effort will leave you PREPARED. For any question, for any objection. Any time.

And when you are prepared, you have the kind of CONFIDENCE you just can’t buy.

From there, SUCCESS—even if you encounter setbacks—isn’t just likely, it’s inevitable.