There’s a little shop that I love, full of jewelry, cosmetics, stationery, books, toys, teacups, and antiques, all charmingly displayed so that going there feels like a real experience. I have been aware from the beginning that there aren’t many perfect stores like this, so I try to purchase something, even if it is small, whenever I give myself the pleasure of going in. I recommend the shop to other people. I’m loyal and I want to make sure it stays around.
Since starting my business two years ago, I find such awareness has become more and more acute. Owning a business has made me understand so much more about both the costs of business and how businesses survive. Therefore, my behavior has changed in the following ways:
This is probably the most obvious and it’s hard for me; I can be a little tight-fisted. I do find it easier to open the wallet when I know it helps someone out, and of course, there are plenty of things that I need to spend money on, such as gifts. My cousin makes diaper cakes, for example, so we often buy from her when going to a baby shower. Don’t get me wrong; I buy myself things, too.
I recently discovered a cute little tea shop that is a little bit out of the way. Not only did we take tea there, but we bought some gift certificates on our way out for people that I thought would genuinely enjoy it and should discover it. If they in turn do the same, how much better the chances that our tea shop will stay in business.
When I see something I like, I pin it to Pinterest, I stumble it in Stumbleupon, etc. On my own blog, I link to any businesses that I mention. It brings me traffic from them and vice versa. It’s a beautiful arrangement, and I enjoy honoring and promoting businesses that I love in that way. When I participate in promotions such as the Great Cloth Diaper Hunt, I suggest to other small businesses I know that they join, too, and I promote the hunt on my page. This is mutually beneficial for all that are involved.
I Share Information and Opportunities
When my husband and neighbor both started Etsy shops, I did my best to tell them the inside tips that have been helpful for me. I’ve pursued various venues for selling my own wares only to find they were better suited to someone else. Rather than let my effort go to waste, I’ve passed the information on.
I Understand What I am Paying For
I used to be that obnoxious person who looked at something and said, “I could make that for a fraction of the cost.” I didn’t say it to the person selling it, but I thought it. Now I understand that not only does the cost reflect promotion, booth fees, licenses, business cards, packaging, travel, and countless other expenses that I wouldn’t have if I made it for myself, but that time, above all, is what I am paying for. When I make things myself, I pay the time directly. When I buy it, I pay someone else for that time. Now that I am running a business, I value time, mine and theirs, so much more. I also value things such as business cards; I don’t take them just to take them, and if I don’t need them anymore, I leave them in a public place for others to see.
Has owning a business helped you become a better customer? In what ways have you changed?