evita.JPGI had employees now. I had a busboy (my father), a cook (my mother), a hostess (my sister), a host (my brother) and a waiter (myself).

But I had no customers.

I asked my investors (who were also my busboy, my cook and my parents) to buy a massive flashing neon sign to put on the front lawn, but they had to invest their money in the company car (also known as the Subaru station wagon that took me to Little League).

So I needed to devise a marketing plan.

"Direct mail can happen fast. With a modest campaign to a known target audience, you can acquire a mailing list, develop mailing materials (including direct-mail letter, flier, reply card), launch a mailing and start to receive results in just a few months. This is faster than the typical advertising campaign--and a lot faster than waiting for the phone to ring," says Jack Ferrari here and in his book Successful Sales & Marketing.

Problem is that I had no money and the only target audience I knew of was anyone who showed up for my backyard magic shows during the summer.

So I considered word-of-mouth instead.

"Building your business through word-of-mouth is about cultivating relationships with people who get to know you and trust you. People do business with people they have confidence in," says Ivan Misner here. Misner is co-author of The New York Times bestseller Masters of Networking. "One of the most important things I've learned in the past two decades is this: It's not what you know, or who you know, it's how well you know them that counts."

Word-of-mouth is especially brilliant in elementary school. In fact, grade school is an impressive network of communication altogether: 12:05--a kid squirts milk out of his nose, 12:30--everybody else knows which kid lost his head and the joke that made it happen.

But my fellow students didn't have money and I had no connections/patience for word-of-mouth for adults.

So I delegated the work. I had my mother and father call every one of my local relatives and invite/demand them to eat at my restaurant.

Opening Night was upon me.