Both my husband and I are self-employed and have endured super slow cycles in our businesses as well as having almost more business than we can handle. One thing is certain for a successful business of any kind: you have to be OPEN FOR BUSINESS to get any business.
Whether you have a retail establishment, offer a professional service or run a nonprofit your mentality needs to be “open for business.” You can sell more, work more, or serve more with a goal of growth. On the contrary, if you really feel like you can’t take on any more customers, clients or constituents, you or your organization will eventually become closed for business. That mentality becomes unfriendly, unwelcoming, and self-defeating.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised. Sometimes executives become so fatigued they feel their only option is to stop the flow. Likely, it is time to grow and a strategy needs to be developed to accommodate that growth. A common expression in this household is, “Gotta make hay while the sun is shining!” Be grateful for what comes your way when it does and seize the good fortune.
Recently my family and I were in Seattle, Washington. We were visiting the craft vendors in Pike’s Place Farmer’s Market. My daughters and I love to look at the crafts. And by “look,” I mean touch, browse, feel, ask questions, come up with our own ways to make the same thing, or appreciatively buy that which is beyond our skill set. There was one booth with some stunning scarves pinned up on a board. She incorporated satin ribbon, tassels, some sort of a silky yarn and something sparkly. I zeroed-in on a specimen of deep garnet that I thought was the prettiest and walked right up to it and touched it. Was it knitted or crocheted? She had it pinned already folded to show how it would look on your neck so I wondered what shape it was—was it a rectangle, a triangle? Where did she attach the tassels?
Before I could discover any of those answers, the vendor shot around from her side of the table and asked me in a stern voice, “Where do I need to put that sign so you’d read it?”
Was this the vendor yelling at me? My eyes quickly searched the display board until I saw her handwritten note: NO TOUCHING. I reluctantly apologized. She suggested I use the back of my hand if I wanted to know how it feels. Say what? I explained that I was curious to figure out what the shape was. “They’re all different,” she snapped, glaring at me. It was uncomfortable and I looked away from her only to notice another sign that said, “Touching only allowed with permission.” I guess she wasn’t going to grant me that permission, well, not for my fingertips anyway.
This woman was not open for business. She didn’t offer to take it off the board and show me the shape and the size. She gave me no spiel of benefits like, “you can wear it many different ways with many different things.” She did not explain the materials and talk about her experience making them (assuming that she made them herself). She didn’t offer to put it on me. It was absurd. This woman had curated her collection and indeed now felt she was showcasing a gallery.
Unfortunately, this same irrational, counter-intuitive thinking happens too frequently. People forget their business purpose. They become bothered by customers asking for things they don’t offer instead of considering to give the customers what they want. They make the wrong assumptions about their potential customers. They don’t want to bend their ways to accommodate today’s market and miss out on huge opportunities. It’s unfortunate.
What about you? Are you OPEN FOR BUSINESS? Resolve to be open and available and dissolve any habits or policies that obstruct your success. It’s easier than you think.
Hi, Leslie. I agree with your notion of needing to be open for business, and have known, over the years, times when I wasn’t. When I got to the point where I wasn’t, more than I was, I quit doing craft faires.
But there is another side to this story. I think the clue is your statement that you like to “touch, browse, feel, ask questions, come up with our own ways . . . buy that which is beyond our skill set.” The reason I no longer do craft faires, nor do most of my friends, is because of people touching, feeling, asking questions and trying to figure out how they can make, or improve on, our wares. We’re there to sell, not to provide samples or lessons. At most high end sales, the management might post signs to not touch without permission. Usually, though, it’s up to the vendor to try to keep their scarves, or other items, from looking shop worn by the end of the day. Not to mention the wear on your psyche from listening to people dissect the item, ask tons of questions and then walk off. It’s just courteous to ask first before touching. Most vendors will be glad to show you their items if you ask.
In this case, it sounds like it was clearly posted that the vendor didn’t want others touching without permission. Just a bit of respect for the fragility of textiles and respect for her work is all she’s asking.
Point taken. However, I’ve been on both sides of craft fairs and have witnessed customers whisper to each other about how they can make my product at home. I recognize that those aren’t my customers-they’re lookey-loos, but they don’t diminish the worth of my product or my creativity. They have no obligation to buy from me and I can’t sell my product without letting people see it. I might have bought a scarf if it was a fair price, but she never offered that information. Snippy attitudes are condescending and never sell a product regardless if it’s fragile.