One minute you're a kid in a garage making up imaginary games, and the next minute you're a worldwide Internet sensation.
What, that's not how your life story went?
Well, OK, me neither. I at least got the imaginary part down -- I used to follow my brother and his friends around, begging them to let me "play Mario" with them in the backyard. When my mom inevitably made them comply with my requests, they appointed me Princess Peach and let me sit in the castle (aka the garage) and wait for them to come rescue me. I'm pretty sure about a couple long-term results of that experience: 1) I'm just as gullible now as I was then, and 2) my woeful story never went viral.
Things turned out a little differently for nine-year-old Caine from East L.A. If you haven't heard of him yet, click here to watch the inspiring video and remedy your naivety. (Grab a couple tissues first -- trust me.)
Done watching? Welcome back.
So what sets Caine's imaginative playtime apart from every other kid in the world? First of all, the kid is sharp. From the elaborate ticketing system to the marketing deals (hello Fun Pass!), this kid has a good system going for him. The fact of the matter is, we weren't all born with this kind of innate business savviness. I mean, there are the Steve Jobs of the world, and then there's the guys peddling their sketchy wares out of their cars in poorly lit parking lots. If your entrepreneurial endeavors are going to succeed, you need a good idea and you need to dominate the details.
But even with the best idea in the world, you're not going anywhere unless you get noticed. In Caine's case, a lucky break with one of his dad's auto customers -- who happened to be a legit videographer -- resulted in Internet fame, his own official website, droves of patrons at his cardboard arcade, a free pinball machine and nearly $200,000 in donations. Yes, that's right -- $200,000. Looks like Caine is going to college someday! And deservedly so. While we can't all plan on a chance run-in with an eager, charitable publicist, we can take a few cues from Caine.
For one thing, he was always ready. Of course, Caine hadn't been aiming for the Fortune 500 when he started out -- he just wanted to have fun and hopefully attract a customer or two. But the point is, when the right customer finally came, Caine's arcade was ready for business. So, take notes from his success and always have your business polished and at the ready.
The fact is, we can't all invest in cardboard arcades and plan to make enough cash to pay off mortgages, student loans and/or bankruptcy fees. Caine's story garnered attention and funds because it was unique -- his idea was individual and inspiring. As a nine-year-old boy, he already loved arcades -- so he built his own. What is that you love? Build your business around your passions. Not only will you love what you do, you'll likely already have an expansive knowledge base on the industry you select.
Now please excuse me while I go watch Caine's video and feel emotional for the fifth time.