Several marketing and start-up experts, from Seth Godin to the team at Startup Weekend recommend putting your product or service to the test and refining it before you get into a situation where you've lost money on it.
After this, as I've calculated, the additional financial output wouldn't be that high, and the business would continue to enjoy a very high profitability with a low overhead.
Not to mention, as Seth Godin would say, for us to offer free consultations as a means both to educate our customers and ourselves (sound familiar?), we are being generous. We are giving away our art, we are gifting them. This does come back, in this new era of small businesses.
I always go to this small optometrist office, despite it not being close to anything else I need, despite its mediocre yelp reviews, for one reason. I remember them from when I was little, and I remember them fondly. When I was about 11, my mother dragged me here when she had to shop for glasses. Now, my mother is particular and specific as all hell. Let's just say we were there for a really long time.
The salesperson helping us was Yolanda. One million years later, and I still remember her name and her face. Why? Because she talked to me while helping my mom. She said she liked my nail polish, which was a funky metallic green, as I was experimenting in goth fashion.
When we came to pick up my mom's glasses, Yolanda had bought me a really nice bottle of dark, shimmery purple nail polish.
Yes! Just out of the goodness of her heart. That's not even the main story here, but it is important. It's why I came back and had yet another surprise gift from Yolanda and her team.
She's still there! She didn't totally remember me, but I'm sure I made an impression. I showed up on Saturday just after 2pm. Silly me, didn't check to see that their hours on Saturdays close at 2. But they let me in, and insisted it was alright. They never once made me feel sheepish about my mistake, and went about business as usual.
Yolanda did not rush me or anything as I tried on different frames. She complimented my hair and my handbag, totally genuinely, but I realized she was also taking notes of my style and personality in order to find me the best frames. She only had to show me 3 frames before I made my choice. She listened to my needs, and even threw in a couple treatments to my lenses for free because she felt it would make my day to day wear with them more comfortable. Seriously!
When I came in to pick them up, I noticed that a new Mexican cafe had opened up across the alley from them. I asked if they liked it, since several cafes have come and gone in this space. Yolanda let me know they were excellent, and handed me a gift card to the cafe.
Another memorable gesture of kindness, and (very importantly) proof to me that this optometrist office kept close to nearby small businesses and supported them, as well.
Lessons, people. They're out there if you pay attention.