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Entrepreneurs and Beggars

beale-street_memphisWe recently took a vacation. Memphis was our milestone for the trip back. We wanted to enjoy Beale Street.

We weren’t there long but we had a great time. We had a nice dinner at the Blues City Café. Then we went out on the street to see where we to settle in for some great live music.



Larry the tour guide?

That’s when we met Larry the beggar.

Larry had a great personality. We were feeling pretty laid back so we engaged with him.


Mary-Lynn FosterLarry said that he was a tour guide. He wanted to show us this “new thing”. I said, “We’re on Beale Street. We’re here for the blues, not some new thing.”



George KruegerHe said, “Oh, you gotta see it. Come with me.” So we followed him. We weren’t sure where he was taking us. We came to the corner of Beale Street and Rufus Thomas Drive. I said to Larry, “Who’s Rufus Thomas?”


He didn’t have an answer. (When we visited Sun Studio the next day, we learned that Rufus Thomas had been one of their artists.)

So the local “tour guide” couldn’t tell us anything about the person after whom one of the streets was named.

We asked Larry what he did before he became a tour guide. He said he was a forklift operator. We asked where. He didn’t tell us about the company he worked for; he just said, “Kalamazoo”.

We kept walking with Larry. He was leading us past the area the police had barricaded off so you could walk on the streets. We saw few people ahead of us. So we told Larry we were turning around.

Before long, we were approaching some cops. Larry seemed to get a little nervous.

Now, of course, we knew Larry wasn’t a legitimate tour guide. We don’t usually do this – and we may never do it again – but we gave Larry $10. Then he asked for $5 more!

Larry was great at asking for money. Unfortunately, he wasn’t good at delivering any value for it. Unfortunately, some entrepreneurs are the same way. 


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Are customers people or dollar signs?

He knows he has to be aggressive. He has to walk up to complete strangers with a way to ask for money.

There’s nothing wrong with being assertive. But who among us really likes to deal with an aggressive person, however you may define that?

Yet many business people today are aggressive. Many business people act like Larry the beggar!

Larry doesn’t see people; he sees dollars. Many business people today behave the same way.

It seems especially egregious in the online world. Many “internet marketers” are among the worst.

Somehow, since they aren’t dealing with you in person, the dynamic changes. But it shouldn’t … there’s still a person behind the computer.

You can’t have customers without a product

Larry doesn’t care about his product. Of course, he really doesn’t have one. But he could. Some entrepreneurs don’t really care about their product either. It doesn’t matter what they offer; they just want to make money. 

But a business has to sell a product or service that meets the needs of its customers. Otherwise, it’s not sustainable in the long term. And that’s true for ALL businesses.

You have to create value for the customer first
Larry the beggar could be a genuine business person. Without question, he has the personality for sales. And he’s not afraid to ask for money, which holds a lot of people back.

Like Larry, some entrepreneurs find it easier to ask for money than to do the hard work. It’s hard to create value for others. It’s hard to put the needs of others first.

We didn’t help Larry by giving him money. You don’t help an aggressive business person by giving in to them either.

Entrepreneurs know that they must deliver value to their customers first to create value for their business. That’s what leads to BIGG success!

… the rest of the story

By the way, we did find a great little blues joint, Mr. Handy’s Blues Hall – named after W.C. Handy, the original developer of Beale Street. We even got a shout out for Champaign, Illlinois from Dr. Feelgood Potts, the leader of the band that regularly plays there. 

As Dr. Feelgood says, “The smaller the joint, the bigger the party!”


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(Image in today's post by mdcarpe01)