30 Things I Learned from Running A Business for 11 Years

  1. I’m really good at it customer service. And I hate it.Girl Thinking
  2. Excellent customer service can be a foundation of a profitable business.
  3. The definition of excellent customer service is not cut in stone.
  4. “Cunt” can be a deal breaker. But sometimes it can be a deal maker.
  5. Customers are not your friends.
  6. People don’t always know what they want. Even when they think and act like they do.
  7. People can be very convincing about things they are sure of. Even when it turns out they are clueless.
  8. Most customers have no idea how much you know, assume you know everything, and are happy to lord it over you when they find out you don’t.
  9. Taking the blame and apologizing doesn’t mean people will forgive you. And it has nothing to do with whether they’ll stop reminding you about how you fucked up. Even if you only took the blame to calm them down.
  10. People can lie while they look unblinking into your eyes.
  11. Sometimes people don’t know they are lying.
  12. People are most comfortable lying when you do it for them.
  13. For some, saving pennies is most important about a transaction. Often these are the financially wealthiest. Which may explain a lot.
  14. Whiskey is of great value in calming anxious customers.
  15. People love free things. Magnets, pens, mugs, bottles of maple syrup. Most will resist paying even 10 percent more for your service as they pocket that free thing.
  16. It’s a rare customer who gives a monetary tip when tipping is not an industry standard. Not one of our customers ever tipped more than ten percent.
  17. When you offer someone the chance to pay you what they want instead of the regular price, be prepared to be screwed.
  18. Time is money. And most people don’t value your time as much as they value theirs.
  19. Family members are among the most demanding customers. They will expect 24/7 access to you. And will feel entitled to ask many many questions.
  20. Some family members are happy to pay. If you have the sense to charge them.
  21. Don’t do business with family. Even if you love them it is more trouble than it’s worth.
  22. If you own your own business, most customers assume you are rich.
  23. Only use 100% recycled paper and other ecologically-conscious products for your own reasons. Not as a selling point. Most customers could not care less.
  24. Learn how to turn off a bad mood. Or use it to your advantage.
  25. Parking difficulties with neighboring businesses can ruin a perfectly good day.
  26. Find vendors and business support people you love. Do what you can to support them.
  27. Generosity with vendors and business support people usually pays off. Not with customers.
  28. I’ll do a lot to avoid conflict. Sometimes to my detriment.
  29. Don’t avoid conflict if it’s to your detriment.
  30. You can only avoid the truth for so long. And then it will bite you. The longer you avoid it, the harder it will bite.

Until Recently I Thought

Until recently, I thought I was the only person who ever did a, “Mom’s Got A New HairDoo Freakout.”

Thing is, I didn’t recognize her.

Beehive - 1

Not that I wouldn’t have recognized my own mom.

I mean, it wasn’t her, it’s not just that I didn’t recognize her.

It’s that with the change in her hair, all pushed up onto the top of her head, she had slipped into a part of her self that was simply unfamiliar to me; a part I’d never met. I remember she was wearing a light-colored, patterned, sleeveless sundress hemmed just below the knee. It must have been early summer as she looked light and breezy. It didn’t matter how summery and sweet she may have looked, though. This wasn’t my mom and she wasn’t fooling anyone with her costume and fashionable hair.

Had I been introduced to her independently of her being my mother, I might have thought her stunning in her new hairstyle; it was in the vicinity of 1965 and beehives were “in.” But as she was my mother, and she was in a non-mother get-up, I deemed her “stranger,” and, thus, ugly.

Change has always been tough for me.

If, as Buddhist nun Pema Chodron’s has said, our root fears are pain, abandonment, and death, where does the fear of change fit in? Or does it fit into all three? The anticipated, possible pain of the unfamiliar or new, the abandonment of what was counted on, and the death of what was known. All three root fears are found in the fear of change.

It’s that the new hair treatment endued her with another of her potential personalities, one of her other Selves.

We all have them, potential personalities, other Selves.

Some of our Selves we may never get, or take, the chance to try on and walk around in.

Some, we may live most of our life inside of.

Some, we may have the good fortune to let go of after experimenting with them.

And some, we may live through miserably, unable or unwilling to peel off and discard.

When I saw her in her beehive hair-doo Self, I burst into tears. Afraid and stunned, frozen; I didn’t understand. I was five, or two, or seven, and I didn’t understand.

I had gone to school that morning only to come home to this very different person. My mother had gone; had left me. My familiar mother had escaped into, or been inhabited by this “other,” mother, a person I no longer knew.

I sobbed. And the shell of my mother, with her bare, brown arms and teased and piled hair, bent down to comfort me, and it was fake. My skin burned with her touch, my ears rejected the comforting cooing noises she made.

And now it was she who did not understand, did not realize, just as she had slid into one of her other Selves, so I had vanished as well.