The best business advice I’ve ever received was never actually given to me and wasn’t about business in any way. Where it did arrive from was a family members mild eccentricities and love for bicycles.
My step father is a doctor and as such we grew up thoroughly middle class. We certainly never once lacked for anything but at the same time we didn’t have everything our hearts desired. This was particularly tough when going to a private school where the student parking looked like a BMW and Audi dealership. I remember 17 year old me feeling awkward with my mother’s ancient Mercedes and my step father’s Hyundai; I didn’t understand why they bought cars cash when you could just buy a car for a few grand a month and pay it off over five years and have the same prestige and status as all the other parents in the school. If I could step back in time I would probably have words with my 17-year old self.
Fast forward twelve years to a discussion I was recently having with a friend explaining about my family. We eventually got onto the topic of my step father and I explained: “He drives a 2004 Corolla that he never bothers servicing yet he owns five bicycles, each of which probably cost more than his car”. I said this jokingly to explain the kind of quirky man he is and until I verbalised it I didn’t realise the brilliance of the lesson my step father had accidentally given me.
Cars are irrelevant to my step father; they get him from point A to point B and he couldn’t care less about what people think about his car. At the same time bicycles are his passion. Let it be said that owning five bikes is overkill but who cares, they make him happy.
Cycling is his passion, cars are not. Cars are a waste of money while a bicycle helps you get fit and lose weight.
The same should apply to business; it’s not about image but about what makes you happy and promotes passion.
It’s easy to get caught up in the glitz of impressing clients, staff or suppliers. You rent fancy and expensive offices, you send expensive gifts to clients to woo them and you only arrive at meetings in expensive German cars with sleek “made in California” laptops. Unless that’s actually helping you to be more passionate about your product or service then it’s irrelevant.
Doing something in your business (and in your life) is ridiculous if you’re doing it to prove you’re “someone” to the rest of the world. You’re no longer doing it for yourself.
The number one selling tool: passion. If you care about what you do then other people will as well. In the same way that if you love cycling more than cars you then spend your money on bicycles.
In his book “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It“, Kamal Ravikant points out that people in love seem to have a “non-stop smile”, a “glow” and are “full of life”. Love your business and you’ll come across a thousand times more desirable.
Stop plowing money into impressing the kind of people you probably don’t want to work with anyway.
Get on your metaphorical bicycle, find your passion and don’t waste your time on what you think everyone else wants.