The general believe is that the best way to be a good player in the game of making money is to study those who have made it real big in life. How true and how false! As much as we can learn from the billionaires of this world, we can learn much more from everyday people; people we generally tend to overlook.
And, it so amazing to see how these ordinary people constantly sharpen and refine their survival strategies to meet new challenges every time. Without a doubt, these ordinary smart ones are better proponents of ‘change’. Perhaps, to say they are changing ahead of change may be grossly inadequate.
Now, let’s take a look at this everyday beggar.
Haven’t you noticed now that beggars are fast dumping the traditional way of begging for more sophisticated ways? Today, they have “strategic partnership begging,” “praise singing begging,” “emotional begging,” “bonanza begging,” “religious begging,” and many more. And, by the time some smart ones get a hold on you, you won’t realize what hit you until you’ve ‘dropped’ some ‘rabba’ (money). You are just momentarily swept away by their art.
Some year back, boarding a bus from CMS to FESTAC, a little event unfolded. A slim middle-age haggard looking woman appeared and sat directly in front of me just as the bus was about taking off.
Some few minutes into the journey, she started a praise and worship session. Her next item were prayers, and of course many passengers joined her, answering “Amen” in chorus to her fire-brand prayers.
After the prayers, she went further by delivering a short sermon. This was followed by a brief introduction of herself. And, just when we all thought she was done, her real presentation started. She spoke about her family problems and appealed for help. Trust me, by now I was getting more interested in her presentation to see where she was headed.
Noticing that passengers were not paying much attention to her anymore, she suddenly burst into tears. No be small thing Oo. She wailed and cried profusely. Her mouth was wide opened, forcing the veins on her neck to bulge to almost breaking point, begging for help.
The strategy worked! She instantly succeeded in commanding everyone’s attention as all eyes fell on her once again. The tears from her eyes cascaded down her face in torrent like the Ikogosi waterfall. And, as she wept, she intermittently changed gear; from low to medium, then high pitch before hitting crescendo. Haaaaaa, HUUUUUU, HOOOOO! This is then trailed by soft sobs before the pattern starts all over again.
Maybe out of curiosity to see the next chapter, I opened my wallet and gave her a N100 note. And to my bewilderment, I saw N500, N200, N100, N50 and N20 notes coming from different directions in the bus to the crying woman. Making a quick mental calculation, I realize she must have made between N2, 500 – N3, 500. Wow! Just from one trip.
I also realized that when the conductor was collecting his fares from passengers, this woman had somehow managed to persuade another passenger to pay for hers. Talk about ingenuity.
As the bus got to Orile bus-stop, muttering a quick ‘thank you’ to her donors, she alighted from the bus with the speed of lightening. I looked back to behold her crossing the highway to the other side of Orile where she boarded another bus heading maybe to somewhere on the Island or Oyingbo. Just imagine her jumping on buses all around Lagos, replaying her crying drama, carting away about N3, 000 per trip and smiling to the bank on a regular basis. Someone tell me, won’t the National Assembly members with their jumbo pay be envious of her monthly income?
This woman, the crying beggar, probably used to be one of the numerous roadside beggars constantly being overlooked or ignored by passers-by. She must have sat by the roadside endlessly with outstretched hands or her collection bowl appealing to commuters to ‘drop’ some money, without achieving meaningful results. To some commuters, she may just be one of those lazy buffs not willing to work to earn a living. After all, she’s not physically handicapped in anyway.
Realizing she was losing out; she changed strategy. Going back to the drawing board to perfect a new tactics, she took the game to prospective customers right in commercial buses rather than sit and beg endlessly by the roadside waiting for them to come to her.
All businesses, even the most successful, run out of room to grow, at some point in time. Faced with this unpleasant reality, they must compel themselves to reinvent periodically. The ability to pull off this difficult feat is what will eventually separate high performers from the mediocre.
Entrepreneurs must learn to change the direction of their business and chart a new path especially when they reach a point where they realize that their original product or solution is no longer going to be a best fit, or the niche market they were targeting is too narrow. They must pivot to a new position, pursue a new market, or adjust their product to better deliver what customers really want to buy.
Creating inflexible fixed plan can harm a business than boost it. Change is a dynamic process. As business people or entrepreneurs, we must all learn from the crying beggar to always reinvent our businesses, if we must achieve significant and lasting successes.
By Tayo Faloye