attitude Entrepreneurs Small Business

Our terrible economy

Creative Commons License photo credit: chefranden

Recently, a friend posted a simple exercise to help her clients see that no matter where they live, there are lots of people who need what they do even “in our terrible economy”.

In summary, her suggestion was: “Next Friday or Saturday, go to the most expensive restaurant in town and get a table (if you can get in). The room is probably full of people enjoying themselves and spending $100-150 or more during their meal.

She invited their comments. I wasn’t surprised by them, but I was a bit disappointed.

If they were down on their luck, homeless, unemployed or starving, perhaps (just perhaps though), I might have more easily understood their negative view of what they saw.

But her clients aren’t down on their luck, unemployed, starving or homeless. They are highly-paid professionals with advanced degrees. They seem to have more going for them than most.

Yet their views of the exercise didn’t reflect that.


Some viewed it as an illustration of the state of the restaurant business and that the lesson was to buy a restaurant or pursue restaurant owners as clients.

Some argued that their neighborhood has no expensive, fancy restaurants and that most/all of those kinds of restaurants have closed due to the economy.

Some said this fancy expensive restaurant full of people only exists in limited quantities, and in someone else’s town – not theirs.

Some used their perceived limitations of their chosen niche as an excuse to say that the restaurant exercise proved nothing because people only need their help in limited situations and even then, only briefly.

Some discussed the 1%, 47%, 99% or whatever percent. Yet this is not about a percentage group that you were “assigned to” with the Sorting Hat.

It’s about their attitude they’ve chosen and how it colors how they view their surroundings and opportunities.

Vision is more than what you see, it’s also how you see

A simple exercise produced many different reactions from people with at least seven years of college education. The reactions came from practicing attorneys.

Despite professional success at some level, most either saw the negative or made excuses why the exercise meant nothing.

Long ago, my mentor said “A bad lawyer will tell you all the reasons why you can’t do something. A good lawyer will find a way to do it.

This isn’t an indictment of lawyers. It’s an indictment of attitude.

“But I’m just a…”

“But I’m just a waitress”, you might say. How’s the service at that restaurant? Would you prefer the tips from a $30 or $150-200 tab?

Some might prefer to wait on ‘regular people instead of snobs’ (irony anyone?), while others would invest some time to learn more about wines or whatever their local high-end restaurants specialize in so that they’d have something to (pardon the pun) “bring to the table” when applying for a wait staff job.

“But I’m just a … ” says more about your mindset than about what you do for a living.

This isn’t some “think about what you want and it’ll magically come to you” thing. It’s about how you see and think about what crosses your path.


What do you do with proof when it’s right in front of you? Use or ignore it?

Somewhere close by, there’s proof that someone in your town is capable of being your customer. Through their actions, habits and so on, they repeatedly demonstrate that they can be your customer. Some need what you do. Some own, manage or work at a business with those needs.

During prime time at that fancy restaurant, there’s a room full of people who are someone’s customers for what you do.

Even if you don’t own a restaurant, why aren’t they your customers?

Do you deserve their business? Really truly deserve it? Have you asked for it. Is everything about your business well-attended to?

Is your place the kind of business where “those kind of people” (whatever that means) do business?

Your business is what you want it to be. It’s what you make of it. It’s what you do and what you leave undone.

It’s what you see and how you see it.

PS: In mid-January, @ManageWP marked their first year in business. They have 45,000 clients in “our terrible economy.”

One reply on “Our terrible economy”

Hi Mark,
I really liked this post. I hear those sorts of comments and attitudes from time to time and it strikes me that a run of good years and education has built in many people a lack of gratitude and a lot of entitlement. Neither of which are helpful in business, especially now.

Thanks for writing this,


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