Blog Post

May 11, 2020

Selling Cookies: 2 Timeless Lessons From An 11-year-old Entrepreneur

By Ethan Altamirano

I’m 11 years old. My parents run an innovation lab. So naturally, I wanted to do what they did: have my own business. So, along with my brothers, Eli and Isaac, I went to the Stanford Quad and tried selling twelve bags of cookies. As you might expect, it took a lot longer than my impatient self wanted. In this post, I am going to tell you about the lesson I learned that day.

Selling Cookies at Stanford

Start Smaller

 When I first got the idea of selling cookies, I made this massive list of things that I would sell in one day. Cookies, cornbread, pie... You name it. I told my dad about this gigantic list, I was now calling “the master list” then, he said that I needed to iterate; I needed to see what the people liked, and I needed to see if my one product was excellent. Think back to Apple in the 90s; they were trying to make too many products. When you are first selling something, start smaller. Iterate. See what the customers want. You need to see if your one product is insanely great.


 Know Your Customers, Time, and Place

You should know your customers. I knew that college students liked sweets. In my mind, it was: College students like sweets = a ton of profit in minutes. Study your customers more in-depth than I did. Check the time. Is it a school break? Are their classes in session? You can also ask these kinds of questions in a digital brand. Do students have that much money to spend? 


Even with all of the strategies I have written here, be ready if your profit margin isn’t as large as you would have liked. Also, think of what Rabbi Hillel said in the Talmud. A soldier asked Hillel if he could tell him about the Torah while he was standing on one foot. The Rabbi said, “Don’t do unto others what you would not like to be done unto yourself. Now go and study.” I tried asking my dad if he could tell me how to sell a product while I was standing on one foot. He said, “That’s not how it works. ” Keep iterating.

Talmud Hillel

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