Each day, we learn lessons from life who is the greatest teacher. Life teaches us from the experience, character and observation of others as well as those of our personal experiences. And if we have wisdom which is the principal thing, we are able to use these experiences and observation to our own advantage and that of generations to come.
Today, I am telling a story of two bread sellers. They have most things in common; they are both older women, they are females; they speak the same language though from two different parts of the country and different tribes, they are both traders working from home. They both have grey hairs and both live in the same area, although they do not know themselves nor have they met once. They are both hardworking and enterprising. For the purpose of this article, let me call old lady A as Ruth and B as Hannah since they are both Christians too and attend Churches regularly both in the week and on Sundays. What I do know is that Hannah’s age will not be too much more than Ruth with 2 years.
I happen to market these two women in my bread baking business. When I was looking for customers to distribute my product, I ran into two of them desperately and wanted them at all cost to sell my bread line. First, I tried as much as possible to sell them the benefit of what my bread can do over others in terms of ingredients I use. And honestly, marketing them was not hard in terms of accepting my bread which was just oven fresh and the aroma as well as the attractive colour was sparkling and attracting them. They wanted to sell. Though they had other types of bread in their counter, I was able to ask them to add mine to what they have as consumers will have choices in patronizing them. Good enough it worked out. I am very grateful to both Ruth and Hannah for striking to work with me. I was elated.
Now to business. Once I supplied Lady Ruth, from the instant, she just told me how much was my supply and never hesitated to pay as she is supplied. I gave her my goods and she started selling. She was happy and I was also able to get another distributing customer who came to buy some fast food condiments from Lady Ruth. Each time I supplied lady Ruth, she pay cash. And in order to extend my customer relations, I asked her one day if she will be ready to take more goods so I give her a credit line and when next I supply her again, she will pay. She was very hesitant about it. She vehemently refused.
I had to talk her into this deal after weeks and we started that way. I give her more goods of over 500% than she use to take and she will pay once I bring the next supply. One striking thing happened. I had not come for supply of bread from few days and when I came again, she was hysterical, angry and showed her displeasure over why she has not seen me. I pleaded with her. She told me blankly that the reason she did not want to take credit is the reason for her displeasure and not because I did not come for supply. She told me that her Christian faith and conscience does not allow her to owe people especially ones who supply her goods.
She said she has been very afraid so she will not mess up with my money. And I asked her where the money was. She brought out her purse and inside the purse, she was to bring out a nylon tied separated inside an envelope written the amount and VIP which is my bread name. The exact amount she was to pay me was inside kept for days just for me. She said she has taken her profit and do not have the conscience of eating what does not belong to him as I needed money to run my business. She said she will have sleepless nights if she owed someone to the tune of even cents. Today, I supply her goods much more than what she wants. In fact I just supplied her goods that can last her for more than one week today. That is life. She is humane and though an illiterate in terms of scholastic education, but she has a PHd in Enlightened Wealth. Enlightened wealth according to Mark Victor Hansen in his classic book Cracking the Millionaire Code is a human and godly wealth that knows no competition, but focused on the human kind of wealth. Wealth that brings good and peace to the world in general and then to you. That is what Lady Ruth exhibits.
Flip it to the other side of the coin. Lady Hannah lives in the same environment, a Christian as I have said earlier. Few weeks after I met Lady Ruth, I was to market Lady Hannah. She was selling other types of bread brands. This location looks nice I exclaimed to myself when I first saw her variety shop. I will be able to give out enough bread to make good profit here. First, the wonderful thing about her was that she accepted my product, said all good things about the packaging and wanted to test it first before selling. I gave the test as that is what I am used to. As she ate, she nodding her head in affirmation and kept saying in his native language that the product was good and that she will sell well.
But right from that moment, the experiment I am writing about started. Lady Hanna told me outright that she will want the product but only on credit basis. In desperation, I wanted to test her and then I supplied her. Once I came the next time, she paid and then I supplied her again. Wonderful woman I said, this is the type of clients I am looking for, I reasoned inside of me. And the cat was let out of the bag in my next supply. She told me I will have to give her the goods and come back in the evening to take my money. Elderly lady! I exclaimed. I will not be able to come back. Why don’t you just pay now so I supply you again. That was our agreement. I am running this business part time mama. I am a writer and publisher. I go to office after supplying you my bread. She said if I do not want to come back in the evening, I should forget it. I pleaded with Lady Hannah but she will not understand. Mama! Please understand me. She will not bulge. I was becoming vulnerable, but I just calmed down as I felt there was no need. I will wait till evening.
Once I completed my supply, I went to the office for my writing business and then came back in the evening for Mama. How are you ma? How was your day, hope it went well? A volcano came out of her. Stop asking me how I am as you already know the country is in shamble and there is no money and even market. Things are not moving well. You need to come back tomorrow for your money. He voice was shaking and the house help was shivering as she spoke for no reason that I am in the know. You cant do that to me Mama as you asked me to come. “If you like you come, if you like don’t” was the next thing she uttered. I kept my patience till the following day and when I came in the morning, she was offering me 20% of what she has sold. I asked her why she is paying me 20% of my total money instead of all as she has already sold the goods. She walked away. Today, I have stopped giving her my product.
This is how we can be different in terms of what we do even at every age. In your business endeavor, personal relationship and even marketing, you will encounter different types of people from different background. What is important is first for you to know that the fact that they are of same age and religion does not mean you will have the same great character from them. Lady Ruth by nature, upbringing and life experiences is cultured, respectful and humane and apply same principles to her business and personal relationship. But Lady Hannah places money much more than any other issues of life. She is temperamental, inconsiderate and does not see business as being from God.
Another lesson from here also is that as a business person, always know that you will encounter people who would be mad at you or want to bring you down even when you do not deserve it. The best way to threat them is to shut your ears against their negative thinking and personality and look for good people to align with. I have always remained calm each time I went to Lady Hannah’s place. I am able to achieve this with one thing at the back of my mind. I just say inside me “O’boy, I think she is having a bad day and so you do not need to kind her” . But for my business, I had to take a decision to stop supplying Lady Hannah and concentrated on Lady Ruth. Who are you? Are you Lady Ruth or Lady Hannah. Chose this day who you will be. And remember that you were born on earth to change it for good.