The Magic of Entrepreneurship

Demonstrated by the street vendors in Rome

umbrellaWhat entrepreneurs do best is identify an opportunity and respond to it. They observe the market, test customer response, and then deliver what works at the right time and place.

In Rome this week, I noticed that the street vendors had almost all decided that the thousands of meandering tourists were most in need of either bottled water or a selfie-stick. Those were apparently the best-selling impulse items and they were offered everywhere. I did appreciate the water bottles during long tours of the ancient ruins in the hot sun, but was already hating the forest of selfie-sticks that were invading all my carefully composed souvenir photos and did not want to join in the contest of who could get their cell phone out in front of everyone else.

The street vendors' sales strategy was simple and effective. A quick assessment of the passing prospects, a polite query then a quick decision to sell or move on to the next prospect. No time wasted on harassment or an obnoxious sales pitch. Pricing was competitive, one Euro for a bottle of water where the vendor was one of many and had a large stockpile and two Euros if he was alone in a remote corner with limited stock.  The vendors also knew they were competing with free refills from available public drinking fountains, so they all sold branded, sealed bottled water that was ice cold.

But most impressive was their response to an unexpected thunderstorm and downpour chasing all the tourists under cover.  Like magic, suddenly all the street vendors were offering small collapsible umbrellas and cheap plastic rain ponchos!  Quality and price were not an issue, we needed them here and now, so sales were brisk for those that had them.

All good tactics for successful entrepreneurs. Whether you are a street vendor, a technology guru or a small business owner.

Be ready to respond to your market, rain or shine.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

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