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How to Be a Good Person and a Great Business Owner

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How to Be a Good Person and a Great Business Owner

Every Sunday night, for the last few months, we’ve had a box with the ingredients for a weeks’ worth of dinners delivered to our doorstep.

When it hadn’t arrived by Monday morning, I started to get worried. I’d already planned out my week, and grocery shopping wasn’t in that plan. Plus, it’s a significant amount of money and being self-employed with, at times, an unpredictable income, we’re on a strict budget. Finally, around 8am, I got a text to say it had been delivered, but out on my front porch, there was no box. The text also contained a drop-off picture; that was my box but that wasn’t my house.

The company I was dealing with were great and with map tracking, they were able to tell us where our box was delivered and as luck would have it, it was only sixty meters away. Within ten minutes we had located our food, but the people at the house had already taken the boxes inside, and our knocks went unanswered. With no cars in the driveway, we could only assume they’d left for work for the day. An hour later, as I was leaving for a meeting, I decided to drive past again. This time there was a car in the driveway, and the occupants were home. But they were claiming the company had told them to keep the box, so they had already unpacked it and given some of the food away.

So, who is right and who’s at fault?

I was mad. More than mad. Our address was displayed on the box, and as I said above, we lived sixty meters away. No effort was made to get in touch with us. But at the same time, I tried to see it from their perspective. A box of fresh food landed on their doorstep first thing in the morning. Not their fault or their problem. And if their claims are correct, the company told them to keep it.

It took some time to work out, but we are being reimbursed. So the money is coming back to us, but we still lost time trying to find the lost delivery. We made around ten phone calls to various people and places. Trekked up and down our neighbourhood looking for the house. And now I have to find some time to do an unplanned grocery shop as well.

Someone always loses.

So what has this got to do with me as a Small Business owner you might be asking? Well, I’ve seen similar scenarios play out more than once in business, and at different times we’ve been in each position.

I’ve seen business owners receive stock they didn’t order or get invoiced for and chalk that up to a win. I’ve chased down actual owners of things we received in error. And I’ve been the owner who’s made the mistake of sending out the wrong stock and agonised about how we were going to afford to replace it.

So, here’s the thing: If you’re gaining something for no apparent reason, no obvious effort. If it’s very clearly an error, that is not a cause to celebrate. There is someone else on the other end in a world of stress, who is more than likely losing out.

Empathy, compassion and a willingness to live fairly is what makes a good person. And a good person makes a great business owner.

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