9 Business and Life Lessons from 2 People I Least Expected

As someone who writes so much, I know how it feels when boredom strikes.  Zero inspiration does suck. Writers’ block are haunting when you just need to write and publish something for all the world to read. But leaving your desk for a while is really a cure to that absence of ideas. There’s in fact an endless supply of stories, lessons, and anything you can write about life and people.

Let me tell you I didn’t plan to write another blog post today, but I do think I have to after an insightful encounter with 2 people. The first was a thirty-something taxi driver and the latter an old tailor. I had the taxi driver drive me to Slipi, and the tailor customize my working outfits. The first is  a novice and the latter shows his in-depth understanding of what he does. Here are 9 business and life lessons I learned from them.

Mediocrity is excusable so long as you’re nice

I had not had a very impressive experience with the driver. This man was clueless about the route. So was I. And this turned out a calamity for both of us. We were finally lost. I was late and things felt so screwed up I wanted to scream at him. As a taxi driver, he is not that competent. The first sentence after I mentioned the destination was: “Where is it exactly, sir? Please let me know the route.” But I should say he aplogized quite often because of his lack of knowledge. He admitted that he is a new driver and needs lots of guidance from the senior drivers (I’d seen him asking for directions with some other taxi drivers and ojek drivers). He was desperate, and I held my disappointment because I knew I couldn’t vent. It wouldn’t solve the problem anyway. At the end of the ride, he bombarded me with a series of apologetic statements and gave me a discount. Not bad at all.

Never promise something you can’t fulfill for sure but exceed the expectation

Once you give your words, you have no other options but deliver it. That’s why Pak Risky, the tailor, refrain from promising what he cannot do.

Provide advice, never dictate

Once you think you know better and are smarter than your customers, there is less chance for you to have another business with them. The tailor advised me only some basic things, the rest is up to me. I can decide whatever I want. You can give alternatives and options but never judge customers’ taste or make them adopt your ideas without their consent.

Talk the details through

Because talking through details is not only about sweating small things. Sometimes you have to sweat small things because small things determine your level of dedication to your job. It’s true.

Be open-minded and outspoken

Being straightforward always does you good when it comes to dealing with customers or clients or whatever you have to socialize with. People are more likely to talk more and come back later if you treat them like family who you can talk with comfortably. You don’t have to smile all the time but talking about what you do to match their expectation is such a great pitch to lurk them into your business.

Devise your own method

The tailor creatively devised his own errorproof method. He refused to apply the common way of storing the fabrics and other materials needed in the clothes making. “Other tailors cut a tiny piece of fabrics and clip it on to the notebook where they jot down all the measurement results and give receipts but I don’t do the same way,” Pak Risky elaborated. He uses special chalk instead to write customers’ initials on materials or fabrics. This way, he is less likely to mistakenly pick the wrong stuff, which can lead to a huge and costly disaster to his ultra small business.

Promote your fellows

As I knocked on the fron door of Pak Risky’s small two-storey kiosk, he greeted me and knew instantly what I was about to say. Of course, I wanted my fabrics sewn. But then he politely said he had to be struggling with lots of orders these days, and unexpectedly enough, he mentioned some of the fellow tailors nearby. That said, I knew I should never give up so easily. This 65-year-old man must have something that attracts. I said to him it is totally ok to wait for like a week or whenever he is done with all the orders he is currently working hard on.

Take a rest for a while

Running a small business needs ultimate great deal of hard work and perseverance, especially when you are dependent upon the profits you make from it. Yet there’re times when you should just give it a rest. This old man practically lives alone. His wife stays in Pemalang. She prefers living in the hometown as osteoporosis is weakening her spine. Fractures were spotted from the x-ray and the condition worsened right after his wife fell down in the bathroom.

Pak Risky said he once lost his consciousness in the restroom as well. “Many people looking perfectly healthy around here are finally dead all of a sudden,” he stated. Died of heart attack or stroke? That could be the cause. He fell down and fainted, and because he lives on his own, the neighbors around him were helping him. He said, “I ate regularly, and drank milk and of course worked hard till late at night so how could this happen to me? Perhaps God wanted me to rest for a while.”

Show gratitude to The Almighty

At last but not least, I can say this is the classic punch line. However, that’s how someone usually leads a life, moving closer to a greater cause bigger than s/he is. And if you happen to be a spiritual or religious person by upbringing or later after reaching adulthood, the final destination would be God.

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