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  • Caleb

Growing a Business - The art of networking and pitching

Hi I'm Caleb Smith, the 13 year old founder of Peacebunny Islands, Inc. and STEM Bunnies nonprofit with one of my favorite rabbits, "Wachamacallit."

For fun I thought I'd share some of the skills I've been working on and some insights from running my own business for several years. Participating in the 2017 MN Cup Entrepreneur Contest has given me lots of extra opportunity for growth. Here's a list of some of the perks of being a kid entrepreneur and some of the lessons I've been learning along the way that I might not have learned any other way... NETWORKING SKILLS * Confidence: Go up and START a conversation.

* Poise: How to balance a beverage/plate of food and have a conversation. Chewing/talking/thinking all at once --yeah it's an art.

* Prepared: I now do a much better keeping enough business cards with me and what people will ask; anticipate what to bring and how to answer

* Connections: Try to find something in common with people and see it as a mutual opportunity. I have something to offer them too.

* Recall: I write down "memory joggers" and the date on the back of business cards so I remember where I met people and a little about them * Listen: Expect to learn something from every person I meet and drill down to find the nugget. It's not about me planning to answer them but to really really listen to them.

LIFE SKILLS * Professional Dress: Practice tying a tie. Set out clothes the night before. * Navigation: I'm learning how to get around, find parking and reading maps. Also

* Scheduling: I still really need help, but I rely less on my parents to keep me on track and to be ready to go out the door.

* Performance Curve: Know how much is my optimal stress load --"pump up" or "deescalate" to be my best. It needs to be just enough to be my best. * Self Advocate: Ask questions and ask for help

* Vocabulary: Hanging with adults and doing research has been good for my vocab and spelling!

* Perspective: Life is more than school. It's a huge world out there!!

BUSINESS COMMUNICATION SKILLS * Write a formal business plan

* Make a 12 minute power point presentation with animation slides showcasing your story

* Make a 1 minute video -- used a drone. AWESOME!

* Deliver the presentation, use a clicker, look forward followed by a 12 minute Q&A with judges

* Pitch in front of several hundred people * Learn how to "read a room" to see who might actually be open to talk


* Fill out forms. Lots and lots of forms.

* Create and stick to a budget. * Bank deposit slips --my favorite!!

* Scheduling staff/volunteers for events

* Creating a website.

* Keeping up to date by adding periodic social media posts

* Stay on top of emails / phone messages. I really struggle here.

* Say "I'm sorry" and own my mistakes

* There's never enough time, so find ways to use my time better and delegate the rest.


* Responsibility: Animals need care whether or not we're in the mood, no matter what the weather is

* Staff: Hire good help who will do things humanely whether or not we are watching because it's their value. * Train everyone consistently. Delegate tasks, but stay connected * Play with and enjoy the animals, so its not all chores

* Ask animal/farm experts -- don't waste time reinventing

* Planning is hard work, but saves time and resources later

OTHER INSIGHTS * The butterflies before you "pitch" are just a reminder that you have great ideas coming out of their cocoon.

* Talking concisely is harder than talking more.

* Not every adult has the same values, so you can't just follow adults. Discern whose advice to take

* The key is asking the right questions, not just following the loud answers

* Teach people, don't try to teach material.

* Being a kid is awesome.

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