By Lizl Naude, founder of Lilly Loompa
In general, people like to mind their own business…excuse the pun. But I will tell you something about small town people…they love to help! We live in a society where we are trained to be self-sufficient and independent. Although it has merits, is it all that healthy?
As a business owner, I have learned, that it is virtually impossible to do everything on my own. I need a community of experts and people to assist me to go to the next level. Living in Johannesburg in South Africa, a big city, I was a stranger. A stranger to the industry I was operating in. A small fish in a big pond. Going around, driving long distances to get to suppliers and manufacturers, who knew me from nowhere, was sometimes frustrating. I have found that recently returning to my hometown was like a homecoming, a welcoming. Over the last few months I have built up a network of carpenters, suppliers and manufacturers who are always ready to assist. Their businesses are established, and they have all the resources that I do not necessarily have access to. They are my go-to people!
When I need something done, or want to know how to complete a task or product, I ASK! This reminds me of a conversation I had with a good friend of mine a few years ago. When she needed to get things done, she had this ease about asking people to assist her. She told me: “You need to become a Master Asker!”
I have taken her advice and find that contrary to belief…people want to help! Within my town (and I am sure everywhere else), exists a network of people and businesses who do not mind helping. They work together, refer each other, and market each other’s services.
Let’s look at a few tips to get you going:
- Learn to set aside your pride and ask.
- Identify these businesses and people. They will usually show an interest in you and your business. You know you can count on them.
- Do not be afraid of rejection.
- Do not make a nuisance of yourself by making daily requests. In my case I have about 3 carpenters who call on. That means I can rotate my asking!
- Offer your expertise and help. They might be in need for something you can offer.
- Market their services to your network.
It is the strangest thing to get used to if you have not experienced it, but it can prove invaluable to your business. The more your business grows, the more opportunities there will be for you to become a source to other smaller businesses.
Lizl Naude is the founder of Lilly Loompa in South Africa, a company that creates beautiful and usable furniture pieces made with recycled material. Lilly Loompa's “Rubbish Range” is the result of Lizl's craving to deliver pieces that are completely "green". Lizl is a self taught designer and started designing and making furniture because she couldn’t afford to buy new pieces to furnish her home. She started to scout and source for budget material and quickly realised that most people discard of very usable materials. This led to her building and designing beautiful furniture items that she used in her home.
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