Fortune Cookie Friday: Give in Order to Get
It is quite ironic that I have this fortune for today. Earlier this week, I spent an enormous amount of time adding coupons to my Otter Things store. I use coupons for special promotions. I also use them to encourage people to subscriber to my newsletter. In case you were wondering, you can receive a coupon for 10% off your next purchase for subscribing to the Otter Things Newsletter.
So, what does this have to do with the fortune? Well, if you are a business owner, and want some customers, you need to offer them a few things.
You can’t just grab a crumpled piece of paper and say, “Here, that will be $40.” No one will buy it. Who wants to pay money for a crumpled piece of paper? Of course, there was that one time when Gary Dahl made large profits on selling pet rocks—talk about great marketing. If you are selling paper in pristine condition, and maybe handmade, then someone will want to purchase it.
At the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, there were a few booths set up with handmade sheets of paper. You could buy the paper for scrap booking, use it as stationary, or if you have nimble fingers, create beautiful origami. Anyway, if you want customers to buy your products or services, you need to offer something of value.
You need to be responsive to your customer’s needs. If they have questions, you will want to make sure they have a way to contact you. That will mean an email address for your business, preferably something professional—not your personal email. You also want to help them in a timely manner. Honestly, if you can’t take the time to respond to business emails, they will simply take their business elsewhere.
Pobody’s nerfect; when you make mistakes, fess up. It will only hurt your business if you try to sweep your boo-boos under the rug, or point blame at someone else. This may be difficult for some, but this is necessary in a successful business. True professionals take responsibility.
You need to put a little thought into what your business will offer and why. Consider having a mission statement for your business. Look at IKEA® for example. Their mission statement on their website reads, “At IKEA our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”
When composing your mission statement, think about what makes you, or your company, stand above the rest. Are you the only company to offer a particular product? Do you strive for great customer service? Are your company values in line with Mother Theresa? Use whatever it is that makes your business special, and stick to that mission.
If you didn’t notice, all of this takes a good amount of effort, but it’s worth it in the end. This particular fortune is actually a quote from Scott Alexander, author of Rhinoceros Success (1980). In his book, he compares the take-charge attitude of a rhino, which leads to success, to that of a lazy cow that sits and waits for opportunity to come their way. Free enterprise is basically capitalism, and what Scott is saying is the more work you put into it, the more rewards you get out of it.
This premise applies to more than just your business model. You can apply it to school, relationships, and self-improvement. So, don’t sit around waiting for life to hand you success. Nothing is free and nothing worth having comes easy. Get up, get out there, and give it your all.