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Three things the Little League Snack Stand taught me about Running my Business

 
snackstandI’m a mom, I have four kids.  For years my life consisted of running all over the place.  I ran from work to baseball fields, to football fields, to ballet schools, and to assorted schools all over my town.

I know many of you can relate to this, you’ve likely either been the driver or the drivee.

I was BUSY for sure!  I wouldn’t trade those days for anything.  My kids made friends and learned so much about winning, losing, hard work, and life.  I made friends, and learned how to LET my kids learn about winning, losing, hard work, and life!  Not always easy, that letting your kids learn about losing part.  But I digress.

Often I find myself in charge of things I get involved in.  Happily, but because I can be bossy I’m sure.  One of the things I ended up in charge of for many years was the snack stand at the Little League field.  I went into labor with my fourth child at that snack stand!  I spent a LOT of time there.  It taught me a lot of business lessons, lessons I still use in my business today.

Lesson One:  Be dependable.  If a parent shows up at the snack stand to feed their kids during a game, and the stand is closed, they will not show up with their wallet next time.  In order to make money, we had to be open when we said we would be open.

In my business, that’s an important concept.  I am BUSY, I typically have four or five projects going all at once.  I have to-do lists that sometimes seem endless.  BUT, when someone is depending on me, I need to deliver.  Each and every time.  As a business coach, I take that very seriously.  My clients are as busy as I am, our time together is precious.  I’ll be there when they need me, each and every time.  That’s why they come back.

Lesson Two: Set your price and stick to it.  At the Little League field we sold all kinds of goodies, from burgers and french fries to Big League Chew bubble gum and ring pops.  I’m the biggest sucker on earth when it comes to little kids with a handful of pennies, I gave away my share of ring pops!  BUT, if you”re an adult and you want cheese on your burger, it’s another dollar.  We put a lot of time and effort into fund-raising at that snack stand, and if you didn’t want to pay extra for the cheese, you could bring it from home.  I was AMAZED at the number of people who tried to bargain us for a discount on their food.  The price was the price was the price.

In my business, many of my clients become my friends.  I get to know so much about them, I’m their biggest cheerleader.  I struggle WITH them when they’re developing programs and social media campaigns around those programs, and we work hard to leverage all of the free social media tools available to them.  It’s hard, sometimes, to keep from saying “call me in a few days and we’ll go over it again”, especially when I know they’re struggling to make something profitable.  I can’t.  They are my clients, and I run a business.  The price for my service is the price for my service.

Lesson Three: If you need help, ask for it!  As you can imagine, coordinating volunteers to work at the snack stand was no small task.  It was so easy to fall into complaining that the few regulars were doing everything!  You know what? Each and every time I asked someone to volunteer, they said yes.  I truly can’t remember a single person telling me no, that they wouldn’t do it.  But I had to ASK them!  No one was coming up to me and saying “Oh let me stand over that hot grill instead of watching my kids game”.  If I asked, though, they would come back the NEXT night when their kid wasn’t playing, and flip burgers for hours.  All I had to do was ask.

In my business, there is a LOT to do.  I think I mentioned the massive to-do list earlier?  There are people who are willing to help me with that list!  Often it’s other entrepreneurs, people who have strengths where I don’t, and we can help each other and save time all the way around.  Sometimes it’s my friends and family, I have a deadline or a client and the dog needs walking.  My business is more successful when I STOP thinking I have to do everything alone.  When I remember that there are people around me that are willing to help me, if I ask.  None of them have those shiny crystal balls that tell them what I need.  I have to ask for help, and they are happy to oblige.

So tell me, what are you passionate about in your life?  What do you do in your “free” time?

I’ve met many many people over the years in my volunteer world that can go nose to nose with the CEOs I work with.  I’ve seen women who think they have no business sense negotiate deals with book clubs for fund-raisers that would make Donald Trump step back. And let me tell you, if you can corral 100 little boys at a Pinewood Derby, you can organize a high end convention!   Pay attention to the lessons you’re learning when you think you’re NOT working, and see if maybe those lessons can help you craft your offerings for your business.  In 2013, you can get that business off the ground, and marketed regularly, practically FREE.  Look to your passions to find your Rockstar Talent.  I can help!

Comment below and let me know what Rockstar Talent you learned in an unconventional way.  I want to hear all about it!

{ { 6 comments… add one } }
  • Barbara May 2, 2013, 7:44 am

    Great article!
    That same snack stand taught me how to run successful meetings and how to ask people for help.

    Reply
    • KarenYankovich May 2, 2013, 9:39 am

      Barb of course you were in my mind when I wrote this! I’m sure you can appreciate the piece of cheese part. xoxo Miss you!

      Reply
  • april May 3, 2013, 12:00 pm

    wonderful lessons learned, karen – thanks for sharing them! and yes, i can definitely relate. i gained much insight and knowledge in my two-year role as hockey team manager for my older son!

    Reply
  • Alethea Fitzpatrick May 5, 2013, 8:35 am

    Love this Karen! As I mom and business owner myself, I always enjoy looking for business lessons everywhere…

    Reply
  • Christie Halmick May 6, 2013, 8:38 am

    My kids haven’t joined into the little league stuff just yet. But I as a kid I remember hanging out at my brother’s games and the snack bar was always a huge treat for us. Thanks for sharing the view from inside the bar!

    Reply
  • aiojpafiop May 16, 2013, 8:55 am

    Does your site have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to
    shoot you an e-mail. I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

    Reply
  • Barbara May 2, 2013, 7:44 am

    Great article!
    That same snack stand taught me how to run successful meetings and how to ask people for help.

    Reply
    • KarenYankovich May 2, 2013, 9:39 am

      Barb of course you were in my mind when I wrote this! I’m sure you can appreciate the piece of cheese part. xoxo Miss you!

      Reply
  • april May 3, 2013, 12:00 pm

    wonderful lessons learned, karen – thanks for sharing them! and yes, i can definitely relate. i gained much insight and knowledge in my two-year role as hockey team manager for my older son!

    Reply
  • Alethea Fitzpatrick May 5, 2013, 8:35 am

    Love this Karen! As I mom and business owner myself, I always enjoy looking for business lessons everywhere…

    Reply
  • Christie Halmick May 6, 2013, 8:38 am

    My kids haven’t joined into the little league stuff just yet. But I as a kid I remember hanging out at my brother’s games and the snack bar was always a huge treat for us. Thanks for sharing the view from inside the bar!

    Reply
  • aiojpafiop May 16, 2013, 8:55 am

    Does your site have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to
    shoot you an e-mail. I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

    Reply

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