Monday, February 25, 2013

Ginger Jar Lamp Economy.

I remember 30 years ago a pair of ginger jar lamps that I bought when I could barely afford food. I was making $1,400 / month, bringing home $1,000 and paying $800 in rent in downtown Calgary. I paid $60.00 for the lamps from the Bay. It took me 5 months to save for the lamps at $12.00 per month. I still have those lamps. I have tried to retire them, I could not bear to do it. They are simply too valuable to me. 

When I first entered the world of entrepreneurship two years ago, a question was asked in a discussion group on Linked In:  Should we give products and services for free. If so, why?  If not, why not. 

My answer was emphatically "NO" for these reasons: 

1.  Something of no value is not valuable, too anyone. If something is of no value, what value is it to perpetuate? If one is going to give it away for free, one may as well decist immediately in the practice of their "business" for that will be the eventual outcome sooner than later. 

2.  I also believed, and still do, that to give time and money away is to rob the other person of receiving the true value of what they have received.  

3.  My third reason is very pragmatic: I can't pay my bills with air, since that is not yet a valid currency. Nobody's business or life can exist that way, which takes me to point number 4. 

4. Expecting something for free is well . . . disrespectful.  Sorry. I said it.  That's what it is when something is taken or even given for which there is no remuneration. Someone recently made the point that when you get something for free, you have to be aware that someone else is paying for it somehow. 

5. I do not have the heart of a trader. Yes, I love a good sale. Who doesn't. But I do not barter well on price.  In Mexico, I will be the only person paying $25.00 for a handmade cotton purse for which someone else will would pay $5.00.  I actually feel guilty about taking a product or service for "free" from someone, because I know how it feels to save $60.00 over five months. 

I recently had a conversation with a fellow entrepreneur on this topic who summed it up eloquently.  "In the beginning, I traded, but then I found people don't come through on the trade because they have nothing to gain from it." 

Trading is a business model in itself that some people manage very well. I think to be a "trader", one has to be passionately mercenarial in the trade relationship. 

That's just not me. I am a consumer. I like to participate in the buying economy. I love my car, my clothes, and my house. I like to help other businesses be successful by paying for their products and services.  If I don't get paid, I can't do that. That's just makes sense in business and Ginger Jars Lamps.

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