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Lessons From 9-Year-Old Entrepreneurs

Shannon Wetzel, Managing Editor

Last week, my son and daughter and their friends in the neighborhood decided to set up a stand in our front yard to sell copies of a comic book they had written and illustrated. It did not go well.

For one, our street is not very busy. The only traffic we get is from the people who live on the street. The location was convenient and easy for the kids but it was not where their potential customers were. Is your business in a good location? Do you have a presence in the right channels? For example, General Foundry Service, which is profiled on page 22 of this issue, is a corporate member of AFS as well as a member of associations its customers are in, like Industrial Designer’s Society of America and Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Being in the same space as their customers helps them see early on new innovation and what will be needed from a foundry to help bring the innovation to market.

Similarly, metalcasters can exhibit at trade shows, like the Cast in North America pavilion of CastExpo in Atlanta April 27-30, 2019. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own designs to the show for input and discussion and the foundries exhibiting will have the advantage of giving help early in the process.

Back to the neighborhood comic book stand, one of the girls quickly grasped that people who did drive by didn’t really know what they were doing (or selling). “I think we need to have someone pretending to buy a comic book the next time someone drives by so they know we are selling something here,” she said. The young entrepreneur hit on a pretty good approach, if you swap in a real customer with the pretend one. Case studies that show how your (real) customer X achieved Y through their partnership with your foundry is a great way to inform other potential buyers about what you can do for them.

I took pity on the group and purchased enough copies so that everyone could earn their quarter. This taste of success combined with the realization that $0.25 does not go very far based on the work put in caused the illustrator to ponder whether it was time to increase the price because “we need bigger profits.” The lesson here is to re-evaluate your pricing often—and wisely.

Ultimately, the kids grew bored and called it a day. The comic book stand lasted for all of 20 minutes. Hopefully, you are more persistent and patient in your own sales and marketing efforts.

Click here to see this story as it appears in the September 2018 issue of Modern Casting