“Dad, I want a balloon?” my 6-year old, Ravi, begs.
“Sure… if you can find ’em,” I respond. Fat chance you’ll find balloons here. All the vendors are stuck outside the park. Funny how kids always want what ain’t there.
“There!” Ravi says, pointing to the balloon lady.
Sure enough, there she is. I swear she wasn’t there only a minute ago. And I thought I was pretty observant. Hmm. And how did she get in?
We’re visiting my folks in southern India and are enjoying our Sunday at the local park. The park is lovely, to say the least. A veritable tropical paradise, beautifully landscaped with green lawns set amongst tall decorative palms, painted gazebos, fountains, art sculptures and other tropical flora and fauna. The contrast of bright greens against the red dirt is what gets me. There is a large pond in the middle of the park and an unpaved walkway that goes around the perimeter frequented by walkers.
Enterpreneurship comes in many forms
The balloon lady looks like a poor Indian villager that just made it to the city only yesterday in order to eke out a living, toting a couple of soiled and tattered bags that house her entire life belongings.
Presently, her operation consists of a stick perched against the wooden bench, to the top end of which is attached a bunch of long rubber strings. There’s a bag full of balloon supplies by her feet and a hand pump that she’s working feverishly. She’s not alone. There’s a man by her side, equally shabby looking, most likely her husband.
I ask my kid to go over and find out what she wants for a balloon. He comes back and chimes, “ten rupees.” Kind of steep for a silly balloon by Indian standards, but ridiculously cheap by western standards. Converting dollars to rupees, it comes to about 20 cents. Back in the US, I’d happily fork over several dollars for this balloon to make my kid happy.
Ravi is the first kid to buy a balloon from the balloon couple. But within a matter of minutes, they are surrounded by tens of kids and parents. So these enterprising village bumpkins have gone from “open for business” to “thriving” in less than 10 minutes. How many of us can say that about our online business ventures?
Forget balloons, save for the park-managed cafe, there are no other vendors inside the park. All the other vendors are stuck outside the park. Question is how did this one get in?
Oh, I know how. She’s not towing a large and conspicuous cart like all those other vendors. With a bag tucked under one arm and a walking stick in the other, she and her man paid the park entrance fee like everyone else and got in. At the ticket booth these two probably looked like a poor couple wanting some quality time at the park.
How to thrive when everyone else fails
What can this enterprising balloon lady at the park teach you about business skills? Several things. Let’s run down the list:
1. Always give people what THEY want.
Your online business cannot prosper if people don’t want what you’ve got. It’s not enough to be an entrepreneur; you must know what people want. The balloon lady could be selling something else in this park, like books. But she’s not. The park is full of kids. What do kids want? Balloons.
You’ve started your online business and blogging is a great way to promote it. But it’s not enough to blog; you must write about what people really want to read. Do you know what people are hungry for? For that, you must…
2. Do your market research.
Even if this village simpleton does not use a fancy term like “market research,” that’s precisely what she’s done. Chances are, she tried her hand at other things—and failed. But she sure got it right with the balloons.
Study the market before you jump in. (Even if you jumped in without sufficient research, it’s never too late to study your market.) Use your head. It’s much cheaper to fail in your head than in reality. Before you jump into any online business, look around you. What do people around you want in life as you know it? Keep your eyes open for business opportunities. People are always hungry for stuff. Then ask yourself…
3. Is it my cup of tea?
The Indian lady is not here trying to sell magazines or newspapers, even if there are buyers for it. Chances are she’s never read a book or a paper. Why pitch something you yourself are not into? She likes to work with her hands more than her brain. She likes to put things together. She likes kids. It’s a perfect match.
Assuming you know what people want, does it get you excited? So excited you can’t stop thinking about it? If not, look for another opportunity. You don’t need to be a great writer to be a successful blogger; you just need to have absolute passion for whatever it is you’re pitching.
4. Don’t take no for an answer.
While most vendors are stuck outside the park, thanks to park regulations, this balloon lady found a way to go where the action is—inside the park.
I’m not asking you to break the law, but most of us hear “no” and we walk away. Most will, but you don’t have to. If you take no for an answer, you have an employee mindset, not an entrepreneur-mindset.
Being an online entrepreneur is not easy. The competition is stiff; there are limitations galore and hurdles everywhere. Entrepreneurs will never take no for an answer. They’ll look for workarounds and loopholes to get around the “no.” They will break down obstacles… without breaking the law.
5. Show up
Turns out, the balloon lady is here every weekend. Sure, she doesn’t need to motivate herself to show up. The money is inspiration enough. People recognize her. They know what they’re getting. They can count on her. Chances are, she didn’t strike gold on her very first shot at entrepreneurship in the city. But she did something many don’t: she continued to show up.
You’re pumped about your new business opportunity. But can you deliver? Do you have what it takes? If a few frustrations early on in the game are enough to wash away your initial enthusiasm, you don’t have what it takes. The hardest part about going into business for yourself is “showing up”—even when the chips are down. If you can show up, rain or shine, and deliver consistently, luck will always be on your side.
Here’s to your online (and offline) success!
Image Source: duiops-net