Someone was venting to me the other day about how tired they were of negotiating their price with potential clients. He has a small business that offers a variety of services. He was just over the fact that no matter how affordable his prices are, his peers, especially, are always trying to negotiate for a price reduction.
It had me thinking, why do we exploit SMEs when all these business owners are trying to do is make a living for themselves? We encourage each other to start businesses, yet no one wants to pay up because everyone is thinking only of themselves and how they can save a quick buck.
Small businesses suffer and sometimes don’t survive because of our exploitative tendencies. We take advantage, especially when it’s someone we know but we walk into the bigger businesses, owned by strangers and buy without negotiation, spending more than we’re willing to on SMEs.
What makes them so undeserving of your dollar when they need it more than the bigger businesses do? We should be the first in line to support the endeavours of our friends and family but instead, we are the ones always asking for a discount and aren’t willing to pay what the product/service is worth, expecting a family discount.
It is a different issue if the product or service is clearly inferior, but to get something on par with the market or even better for lower than the market price and still want to negotiate it, is just shameful.
Often, customers will even go as far as comparing your price to that of another business, which makes no sense. There’s a reason you go to a specific someone or a business for service because you want what they have to offer. What shop A can offer is not necessarily what you’ll get from shop B. The quality of the product or service may vary. So, how do you even begin to compare one business to the other?
Blatant disregard from customers is one of many reasons why a lot of small businesses don’t grow; you do not respect their hustle nor the business.
We need to change our attitude towards supporting SMEs. We need to support our own, especially because we know better than most where they are coming from, what it took to get these businesses off the ground, and what it takes to keep them in operation.
We are losing the most important fundamental of Africanism - Ubuntu (I am because you are). My support can catapult your business to succeed but if I am dragging you down every time I walk into your establishment, how will you ever grow?
Whether you know the owner or not, if you can’t afford it, don’t ask for a discount. We must realise that the success of their business depends on all the support they can get – and for most small businesses, all we have is each other.
So, remember next time you ask for that N$100 discount, that may be the amount of profit they’re making after giving you a discounted price already.
• Paula Christoph’s column concentrates on positive and inspirational write-ups every second Friday in the New Era newspaper.