When I was in 5th Grade, I got to go to summer camp for the first time. With a mixture of fear and excitement, I ventured away from home for two weeks to “rough-it” camp style.
After the initial shock of being “on my own” and some bouts of homesickness, I settled into the experience and started to have some fun – cannonballs off the dock, arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, new friends, and of course, s’mores. While a big portion of the camp experience is a blur, looking back makes me realize I learned some valuable life lessons that can also be important business lessons too.
Many of the important lessons can be condensed into the following four S’s: Service, Socialize, Spider Repellant, and a good bit of Sparkle.
Our camp counselors had some ground rules for us. One that was stressed a lot was to be of service to others. With so many kiddos running around things could get all crazy-like, so of course they needed to instill a sense of camaraderie and responsibility. I remember I had this horrible ear infection and one of the girls that became a good friend, stayed by my side when I was crying my eyes out, then asked me to play cards with her so that I could take my mind off the pain. I’ll never forget her kindness and she walked her way into my heart at that very moment.
It’s a good lesson as a business owner too. Treat your customers like a new friend and flourish them with kindness and compassion. Find out what they need to make their lives less painful, more joyful and easier. Do something memorable for them and you will win your way into their hearts.
Obviously, a big part of the summer camp experience is making new friends, however, I was very shy as a kid and this one didn’t always come easy to me. Hiding in my bunk all day wasn’t going to make for a very fun experience, so camp pushed me to step outside my comfort zone and become a social butterfly (read: talk to other kids).
In business, it’s important to be sociable too. Hiding behind your screen or working in your studio all the time is not going to help you promote your business or build your customer base. You’ve got to get out there and talk to people. Share your story, relate to your customers, team-up on projects, and give genuine compliments and feedback.
The bathroom at camp had these big black spiders that completely freaked me out. I really wished I had brought some spider repellant with me, but I had to brave it as to not walk around stinky the whole time.
Life and business are like that too. You’ll encounter tasks, problems, or people that totally freak you out, but you must push forward. While most of the time, owning your own business means getting to do what you love, there are still some tasks that are necessary to your success which may not be fun or easy. You must be brave, carry on, face your fears, and develop some tough skin.
This one is my favorite! I loved arts and crafts time at camp – it was my time to really shine. A little paint, paper, and glue can go a long way and provide hours of entertainment, but it was especially important to not forget the glitter.
When building your business, don’t forget to have fun and add some pizzazz! Little details and embellishments can set your business apart from your competitors and make a world of difference to your bottom line. Think about how you are setting yourself apart. Is your packaging doing justice to your product? Is your customer service something to rave about? Are the tiny details so beautiful that someone can’t help take their eyes off your product? Figure out your strengths and really let them shine through.
What are you doing in business to be of service, socialize, repel your fears, and really sparkle? Did you ever make it to summer camp as a child or an adult? If so, what other lessons did you glean from your experience?