What Can We Learn from a Hot Dog Vendor?
I've been talking with several people from around the country about the business environment these days. Some are doing great. Some are struggling. Everyone agrees these are challenging times. A few folks have confided they are a bit depressed and scared about these uncertain economic times. I understand that. We are living through an interesting season.
A discussion about fear brings to mind a classic story of timely relevance. It is about a hot dog vendor who could have made it big. He almost did, but then he lost his nerve. This man, let's call him Fred, suffered from poor eyesight, so he didn't watch television or read the newspapers. He was also hard of hearing, so he didn't listen to the radio either. But he made good hot dogs.
Every morning, at the crack of dawn, Fred visited the market where he stocked up with the best-quality sausages and the freshest rolls available. And before office commuters hit the streets on their way to work, he took up his position at a busy intersection. "Lovely morning, Sir, don't you want to buy a hot dog?" he would say when a man passed by. "You look especially lovely today, Madam, don't you want to buy a hot dog?" he would call out to passing females. And because his stall looked clean and inviting and the smells that emanated from his sausage cooker were seductive, few passers-by could not resist.
Business was brisk, but Fred wanted more. He had a banner made that advertised his hot dogs and put it up between two street poles every morning. This meant that he had to get out of bed even earlier each day, but he didn't mind because it drove sales upwards.
Incredible as it may sound, Fred made enough money from his hot dog stand that he could put his son through university followed by an MBA. When the boy had completed his studies, father and son set down to discuss the future. "You know, son," Fred said, "I have never told anyone this but it has always been my dream to set up a chain of hot dog stands across the city, and perhaps even in cities and towns around the country. There could even be teams of part-timers to cover sporting events.
"Everyone loves good hot dogs, so I know that there is a market out there but I have never acted on my dream because, truth be told, I don't think that I have the skills needed to manage a real big business. With you on my side, it would be a different ballgame, so what do you say?"
"You must be out of your mind, dad!" said the youngster. "Don't you know that there is a recession going on? People are losing their jobs, businesses are closing down everywhere and everyone who has a chance to leave the country does so. And in this climate do you want to expand?"
Fred was shocked to the core. He had spent his time selling hot dogs and business had been brisk as usual. He was so busy that he hadn't even noticed that there was a recession brewing. But he reasoned that as his son had gone to university, was watching television, reading newspapers and listening to the radio, he must know what's going on in the world.
This realization depressed Fred. He no longer bothered to put up his banner, and he stopped greeting people and inviting them to buy a hot dog. "What's the use?" he reasoned, "There is a recession, so people won't buy anyway!" And quite soon, people stopped buying. The pile of sausages and bread rolls left over at the end of each day grew bigger; at first, Fred would give the leftovers away for free, but he soon started to keep them for the next day.
Eventually, Fred decided that it was no longer worth his while to run the hot dog stand. "My son was absolutely right" he said to himself, "There really is a recession; I might as well cut my losses and pack up before I lose everything!"
Was the father totally misled by his well-educated, but fearful son? Are we letting ourselves be misled?
Recently, I was at a lunch meeting with some of the colleagues from the company I am affiliated with. After the meeting, one our account executives asked for some ideas to present to a very significant account. I was impressed by the creative suggestions that came out of this brainstorming session. I knew this account executive would be presenting ideas that the average seller of "stuff" would never come up with. Having this type of resource available clearly provided a huge competitive advantage. It also was encouraging to see that people in my company have some great business opportunities.
If you are on your own and don't have access to creative or business resources to pull from, I would encourage you to find them. We have two great industry events coming up in January. The ASI Show in Orlando is a great show and features a Bill O'Reilly/James Carville debate. That ought to be interesting! In Las Vegas we have the PPAI Expo. These events on both sides of the country offer a variety of education and business relationship opportunities that will enable you to be better prepared to navigate today's challenging economic waters.
Get excited about 2012 ... make some money and go support a hot dog vendor! Buy a hot dog...or the food of your choice, donate some money or time to a worthy cause and enjoy the opportunities you have been blessed with.
Jeff Solomon, MAS is affiliated with a Top-10 distributor company. The FreePromoTips.com website and e-newsletters he publishes are packed with beneficial information and exclusive FREE offers from a few forward-thinking supplier companies. Don't miss out on what's happening! Opt-in to receive their
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