Not Always Financial RewardAuthor: Byron Pulsifer © 2016
"Wise are those who learn that the bottom line doesn't always have to be their top priority."
William Arthur Ward
For those of us who must work to earn a living, it is wise not to spend foolishly. We all know the value of a dollar earned. We're aware that our employers expect us to produce what is expected so that, in the long run, the company not only is profitable but survives. In most cases, however, we spend little time concerning ourselves with the employers' bottom line.
On the other hand, let's assume for a moment that you do not work for someone else but rather that you own and run your own business. In this situation, you soon learn that if you don't work, you don't get paid. In addition, it is likely that you have no sick benefits, nor vacation time. In this regard, the bottom line seems to mean the distinct difference between surviving or going bankrupt.
In your business, you understand that for every penny saved by prudent management means that you will increase your bottom line. As well, you also know that when you are in business, you are not engaged in pro bono work (for example if you are a lawyer), or to give your products or services away for free. To engage in such well-meaning and worthy causes could eventually lead to the death of your business.
Let's move the story forward a few years. At this point, you are able to make a relatively good living from your small enterprise. Sure it has meant a lot of long hours often times working through the weekend when others are able to have their weekends off. But, you realize that the harder you work, the more income you'll make at the end of the year. And, you are keenly attuned to the fact that your business like every business has its ups and downs. In business no matter in years gone by or today, there are no guarantees that what your earnings have been doesn't mean that they will stay the same.
This type of life that I have been describing sounds kind of bleak, doesn't it? It would appear that everything we have been talking about pertains to money. Money is necessary: to live on; money to keep the business flourishing despite the downturns in the economy; or, money to invest in new equipment. To own your own business does not mean you are going to be walking on easy street. As well, owning your own business often means feeling that you have very little personal time or resources to squander. Even though you may be sitting in the evening watching a television show or a movie with the intent to relax, business issues seem to creep back into your conscious level.
Is Money The Issue?
Part of any business owner's life, however, is the necessity not to always be driven by money. Money is a tool not and end in itself. Money provides for some aspects of life, that is a given. But, money does make a life. Money is only one result of your work. So, what are the other results, you may be asking?
Moving Beyond Money
Let me attempt to explain moving beyond money by relating a story about two shop owners. These shop owners needed to augment their pension income. I'm sure at one time or another, whether that be right now or in the near future, you may find yourself in need of additional income.
In this case, the owner's good fortune was to come across an opportunity to start a seasonal craft business in a small but busy tourist area with the ocean attraction right at their door step. They came across this location quite by accident as the story goes. But, the decision to start a new business selling local artists' works wasn't difficult.
And, even though the decision to start a new business at this beautiful location wasn't difficult the first tasks for these small business owners wasn't without its' own unique challenges. First of all, they had to be able to pay the owner of the small building they wanted to rent. The sum required couldn't be paid for in installments but had to be paid in one lump sum. The rent amounted to several thousands of dollars and the first problem was where to find the money. Bear in mind, in this particular case, that the small building was in terrible shape without character and in need of a makeover. Plus, the new owners needed to be able to stock their business with suitable and quality products, plus office supplies, bags, etc. and the money needed for a debit machine and telephone line.
You probably have heard before that it takes money to make money. Well, that's true; there is no way around it. You have to invest before you can earn. The issue for almost everyone starting a small business isn't the desire to start, it is more what are you willing to do to put your desire into motion and to carry through in completing part of the end goal. Or, in other words, sometimes starting a business isn't the biggest issue; it's more about maintaining step by step growth that propels you toward your goal of running and managing a viable and sustainable business.
Giving and Receiving
Now, let's move forward with the story. These small business owners had to borrow money to start their business. Part of the borrowed money was to pay the entire seasonal rent upfront; part was used to start renovate the building so it was more attractive and welcoming; and part was used to buy the necessary supplies, rent a debit machine and to connect a phone line for the debit machine.
As I mentioned earlier, this small seasonal store focused on selling local crafts and not imported products. Part of the marketing strategy was to become known as a destination for purchasing all locally made products that differed from the other small businesses in the area. And, with each passing month, their reputation evolved without one penny spent on advertising. How did they do it?
There were several factors that help propel these small business owners forward toward their goal but the propulsion mechanism wasn't simply more and more earnings without a special ingredient that played prominently in their business. This mechanism was comprised of three main features. The first feature was their dedication to their customers. It was a demonstration of not only great customer service but was more focused on relationship building. It didn't matter to them if they realized that they would never see the customer again given that the customer lived in another province, or state or country. The focus was on people not on sales.
Were the owners only focused on developing relationships with those who bought? No. It didn't matter. There is a lot more involved in running a successful business than just sales. The continuing demonstration of concern and caring about anyone who walked into their store highlighted the contact, not a sale. Many, many times, those store visitors (the non-buying ones) were the ones who not only came back and purchased an item, but also either brought family or friends with them, or recommended their store to others they met.
And, another factor that propelled them forward was their demonstrated caring and compassion for those people who weren't interested in buying anything. In fact, some of these people never came back again, nor did they recommend the store to others. So, what was the dividend for the owners? What was the factor that propelled them forward despite a non-sale visitor? Why did the visitor come in the first place?
These visitors walked into the store carrying hurts and pains, or family issues, or challenges in their jobs. The owners went beyond a warm greeting; they took time to engage these people in a loving, caring and compassionate way; through only listening, in some cases; to listening and exploring possible solutions, in other cases; and, providing spiritual guidance and reinforcement in other cases.
The third factor is one that will strike most business owners as both odd and ridiculous. This factor, however, led to warm relationships, an appreciative parent, or the revival of knowing that not everyone is focused on the dollar. This factor, this mechanism, wasn't about a unique marketing plan either. This mechanism, this action was a genuine expression of warmth, of caring and friendship. It had no strings attached; no expectation of a reward. Have you guessed what it was?
The mechanism, the factor was the action of giving away a product. That's right, you read correctly. These owners would give products away to various visitors and customers. This act wasn't driven by selfishness nor by some unique and different marketing strategy to gain buying customers.
Most of the recipients of these product gifts were flabbergasted; they said they had never received anything free in any store they had ever visited. Many who received such a gift thought they were then obligated to buy something; but they weren't and, in fact, they were discouraged from doing so. The gift was a gift; a no strings attached gift.
What was the reason for giving away products? Maybe it is as simple as receiving a reward but not of money - a simple thank you and a smile was reward enough.
It's not all about the bottom line!
Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
"Our work aims to serve others, and contributes to increasing the health, wealth, comfort and insight of other beings in an honest and supportive way." Michael Hetherington
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Winston Churchill
"But make no mistake, what I've described here is what makes great salespeople great. The best ones honestly care about the people they're selling to, they thrive on meeting new people and hearing new stories, and they're certain they're giving as much as they're getting in return." Joe Procopio
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