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What a 9-Year-Old Can Teach You About Starting a Business

Caine’s Arcade is the story of how a 9-year-old boy setup an elaborate cardboard arcade inside of his Dad’s used auto parts store. Caine, in true entrepreneurial fashion, took an idea and created something out of nothing. Here are 5 lessons current and budding entrepreneurs can learn from Caine and his now famous arcade.

Will you just launch already?!

Once Caine came up with the idea to build an arcade, what’s the first thing he did? He didn’t do extensive research, he didn’t write a business plan and he certainly didn’t get an MBA, he just did it. And while all of these things have their right places, there are countless reasons not to launch a business. Not enough money, not enough experience, the products not quite perfect. I could go on and on. At the end of the day, you just need to do it! You’re never going to be 100% ready to start your business. You could read all the books in the world and prepare for 20 years, but the only way to really start learning is to launch.

Create a minimum viable product

If you ever watch the Shark Tank, you’ll notice that plenty of business owners come on the show and pitch the “revolutionary” new product or service they’ve been working on for the past 5 years. Problem is, they have no sales. They’ve never even talked to a potential customer or tried to make a sale.

Caine used the materials around him (cardboard) to create something he could start selling in a matter of weeks. Sure, his arcade wasn’t perfect, but he started communicating with potential customers immediately, getting feedback and improving his service. And he did it on a non-existent budget.

When I started Demo Duck a little over a year ago, I bought a domain name ($10) created a simple WordPress website ($75) and started a modest paid search campaign on Google ($50 per week). All of which took a couple weeks and a couple hundred bucks. I knew (and still know) nothing about coding a website, and very little about video, but I immediately starting making money, and learned faster than any book or class could have taught me.

Focus, hard work and a little luck

When Caine first opened his arcade, he had no customers. In fact, he barely even had any visitors. But that didn’t deter him. He stuck with it every week and didn’t stop trying to make that first sale.

I’ve been there. Having no customers and minimal traffic is tough, but that’s the way almost everyone starts. There are plenty of times when the easy thing to do is give up, to walk away and focus your attention on something else. But that’s not going to breed success. Finding customers is hard work, and building a loyal following is even harder. However, with hard work, focus and time, your going to be a lot more likely to succeed. For Caine, it took a while, but eventually he had his big break and all his hard work paid off.

Make sure your heart is in it

In order to put in the time and focus a startup requires to succeed, you need to be passionate about whatever you’re doing. If you hate dogs, but decide to start a pet store, you’re not going to last too long when the going gets tough. Money is great for a while, but for most people, there are things that are more important – like running a company that you’re interested in and excited to be a part of everyday.

For Caine, he probably didn’t even have to think about it. He enjoyed going to the arcade, so he decided to open his own. Pretty easy right? It’s a little different when you need to make a living, but the principle still holds true. Do what you love and you’ll have a much greater chance of lasting success.

Tell your story using video

This last one is a little self-promotional on my part, but you can’t deny the role that online video played in launching Caine and his arcade to “stardom”. His video has reached millions, and his scholarship fund now has over $100,000. Without the video that Nirvan created, none of this would have been possible.

Imagine trying to spread Caine’s story without a video. A kid running a cardboard arcade in L.A. peaks a certain amount of interest, but without seeing what he made, or the creativity and passion behind it, it doesn’t have quite the same impact. Video is great because it can communicate a story, generate excitement and spread like wildfire.

What do you think about Caine’s story? Do you have a startup lesson to share? Let us know in the comments!

Written by Andrew Follett
Andrew is the Founder of Demo Duck, a video production agency. He lives in Chicago, loves startups, and enjoys traveling. You can follow him on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.