As an entrepreneur, you quickly learn the art of small talk. You constantly remind yourself that the person standing in line with you at the bank or grocery store could be a potential client or business partner. Yet, for some strange reason, we subconsciously gravitate to those individuals that “look” like they could be a potential client or business partner. For example, if you own a business that sells women’s shoes and the person in line at the bank or grocery store is a 68 year old woman, you strike up a conversation with her, but you don’t tell her about your business. Now, if that same person was a 24 year old recent college graduate, you’d quickly tell her about your shoe business…you’d probably go so far as to give her a business card and tell her about your store’s on-line sale.
Why do we do this? Why do we subconsciously create an image of our potential clients and business partners? Simply put…we’re not thinking completely outside the box! In order to think outside the box, you have to be willing to rip the box to shreds and throw the shreds in the trash!
Approximately 3 years ago, www.seniorjournal.com published an article that discussed a study conducted that revealed that grandparents spend $27.5 billion annually on their grandchildren, and three-fourths of those grandparents wish that they were able to spend more! Many of you reading this are saying to yourselves “Yeah Salima, but that only applies to young grandchildren”…to you I say, think very hard about how much your grandparents do for you…a lot of you have been fortunate enough to start your businesses because your grandparents have financially supported your efforts and dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.
As entrepreneurs, no matter what product we’re selling or service we’re offering, we must not overlook this customer. We tend to think less of this customer because we are aware that they are not as Internet savvy as our younger clients. Instead of overlooking them, let’s incorporate them into our business plan. Let’s invest in them, let’s include them, let’s network with them, and most of all, let’s teach them how to network with us…and the rest of the world. You’ll be amazed to learn how much they want to be connected to modern technology. They want to be able to connect with us. They don’t want to be left out.
Too often, product/service campaigns serve as segregators and do not include this customer, unless it’s a product/service specifically designed for them (ex: the Life Alert bracelet). It seems as though the world is leaving out the very group of people who have taught, nurtured, and supported us so that we are in positions of success, the very same group of people that spend $27.5 billion each year…on us. We need to show them that their investment in us has paid off!
Show them how to find you on the Internet, offer them a discount, and ask them to tell their families and friends about your business. As the matriarchs and patriarchs of their families, they tend to have influence on which businesses their families support (even if a younger person decides they want to check you out to make sure you’re not trying to pull one over on grandma!).
So the next time you’re in line at the store and you see someone who doesn’t fit your mental picture of what your next client or business partner looks like, challenge yourself to make the investment in that person, by simply bridging the gap ;-)!
Note: For anyone wondering why I included this picture with this blog, here’s my reasoning: 1. I’m a huge Nas fan! 2. The title matches. 3. This collaboration between Nas and his father is a perfect example of Nas paying homage to his father (Olu Dara), who taught, nurtured, and supported him and his love of music. 4. The picture speaks a million words…Nas in the foreground of the pictures shows exactly my point…it’s up to us to Bridge the Gap!