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The ability to persevere in the face of adversity is what separates an ordinary man from a great man. The journey to entrepreneurship is filled with rocky beginnings and uncertain futures. Entrepreneurship requires a great deal of hard work, time and risk. But entrepreneurs can learn a lot from unexpected sources — even from a kid who delivers the morning paper.
Here are nine key lessons an entrepreneur can learn from a newspaper-delivery boy.
1. Never be afraid of obstacles
A newspaper boy confronts a variety of obstacles: Inclement weather or even just fatigue. However, it doesn’t deter the newspaper boy from getting up and overcoming those challenges. As an entrepreneur, you must be brave enough to take the first step. You’ll never reach the other side if you don’t muster the courage and effort to try.
Entrepreneurs must stop complaining about the obstacles before them. Like that newspaper boy, wake up, get out and show up!
2. Always show up on time
A newspaper boy’s primary responsibility is to deliver on time. The newspaper is delivered consistently and in good condition. Not showing up on time results in a lack of trust from customers, potentially leading to loss of income. Time is money, a valuable resource, and every entrepreneur must recognize this to succeed.
Entrepreneurs must never be late for their meetings, as that could hurt business. At all times, the focus should be on growth and success. To achieve that, entrepreneurs must develop the habit of being disciplined and punctual. Time management is essential to your success as an entrepreneur, as it shows your client and fellow entrepreneurs that you are accountable and reliable.
3. Be willing to sacrifice small pleasures
Sometimes, a newspaper boy might be deprived of the pleasure of hanging out with friends or miss a morning gathering because of delivery, so it’s important to know that you might not be able to do everything you’d like to do.
Entrepreneurs must learn the importance of sacrificing short-term pleasures for the greater good. Business is a give-and-take process, and entrepreneurs must recognize this. The more an entrepreneur invests in a business and is willing to part with short-term pleasures, the higher the rewards. To achieve success, sacrifices must be made, and small joys found in the moment must be let go.
4. Always be honest
Honesty is the best policy. It defines your integrity and value. Like a newspaper boy, an entrepreneur needs to bear in mind that there is a high rate of failure and disappointment associated with starting a business, and sometimes, things don’t go as planned or projected. So, entrepreneurs must practice being honest with their clients, as everything is not in their control and a genuine relationship can go a long way.
Entrepreneurs must be honest with themselves about everything that’s happening with their companies. Judging every aspect of the business is highly essential – from finances to product development to customer relationships. Sometimes, things spiral out of control, but examining the situation honestly can help you get back on track.
5. Know your priorities
The primary duty of a newspaper boy is daily newspaper delivery to customers. A newspaper boy’s top priorities could range from ensuring positive customer experiences to having a product that the customers want.
As an entrepreneur, one of your top priorities should be finding potential customers who give you important feedback beyond the product because you need to understand the ecosystem you’re selling within. Entrepreneurs should stay incredibly focused and stick to their top priorities, which, in turn, sets them up for success.
Related: 5 Priorities for Young Entrepreneurs
6. Network and maintain a good relationship with fellow entrepreneurs
Make friends, not enemies; at times, it can even serve as a backup. Sometimes, a newspaper boy might not make it on time, and good relationships with other delivery boys help in such situations. For instance, a newspaper delivery boy might have taken on too many delivery orders and decide to give his route to another delivery person to avoid disappointing his customers. This is only possible if a good relationship has been maintained.
Networking is also essential to your survival as an entrepreneur, as it opens doors of opportunity.
7. Customer relationships are key
A newspaper boy maintains a good relationship with clients to keep them and also for referral purposes. Customers are paying for a newspaper to be delivered where and when they want it delivered. Never underestimate the value and reach of a loyal, repeat customer. Keep customers coming back for more. Several new clients could come from a happy, satisfied customer.
Entrepreneurs should prioritize customer-relationship management, as this is key to staying afloat in a competitive market. Don’t ignore customer feedback. Don’t belittle customer requests, as these nuggets are precisely the areas you can learn from to refine your service.
As an entrepreneur, always endeavour to make your customers happy to build a long-term relationship. As the saying goes, a happy customer is a loyal customer.
8. Always be on the lookout for new customers
A newspaper boy is relentless in his vigilance, enthusiastically keeping a watch out to see if there’s a possible newspaper reader out there.
An entrepreneur should always be on the lookout for new customers and ideas. They should constantly reinvent themselves, think of better ways to run a business and sharpen the techniques that can be used to draw more customers.
9. Don’t hesitate to explore new opportunities
You might have seen a newspaper boy become a newspaperman. Not to say this is a bad thing, but you don’t necessarily have to do the same thing your entire life unless you like it and are comfortable with what you do. You can always explore, learn and get better, just like a newspaper-delivery boy can become the newspaper agent, add more delivery boys and the list goes on. Always be open to learning.
Oh, and by the way, that newspaper boy was me. I even ended up working as a correspondent for the same newspapers I delivered. Life is full of surprises and unexpected endings. Don’t be afraid of where you start. You can defy all odds and rise to the top from a humble background.