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5 Precious Business Lessons Learned From a Lemonade Vendor in Sylhet

It was mid-March, and I was driving up to Jaflong from Sylhet on a milky white Toyota Ruckus with three other friends.

I had just finished revisiting the Tamabil Indo-Bangladesh border, where I hung out for an hour or so with a flood of childhood memories. I was exhausted and my mouth was horrifically dry, two common side-effects of sightseeing in a humid country.

Fortunately, we drove up to Jaflong and spotted a lemonade vendor. As I approached the small, brightly covered stand, I was greeted by a Bengali man that looked to be in his late thirties.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I would learn more about the right way to run a business from this lemonade vendor than I ever had in college.

Twenty minutes later, after consuming massive amounts of lemonade, I left for a swim, fully hydrated and my brain bursting with valuable business insight. Here is what I learned:

Sell Less and Start Sharing Your Passion

Lemonade Bob was more passionate about lemonade than most football fans are about their clubs. He knew every single fact, statistic and use a lemon could provide. He drank lemonades and studied lemons.

He even taught his kids how to use them as a conditioner and body lotion. I mean this guy’s entire life revolved around lemons. I didn’t feel like he was selling lemonade to me. I felt as though he was allowing me the privilege to share in his passion.

Get Rich or Die Trying

Lemonade Bob’s most important thing in the world was his lemonade business. He works tirelessly seven days a week, for 16 hours and there’s no room for excuses. He’s right up for it every day.

He told me that he woke up at 5 every morning to pluck lemons from his garden. That way, he could be at work by 7 a.m. This guy did not stop hustling. He was willing to grind like a maniac to get what he wanted, and that was to make money doing what he loved.

Do What You Do Best

I hate coming across businesses and being told about the dozens of services they offer. I hate to burst your bubble but if your business is offering more than five services and calling yourselves experts on all of them, no sane human being is going to believe you.

Lemonade Bob kept his business model simple. He sold lemonades, and that was it. He didn’t attempt to sell food or tobacco. He sold lemonades. Why? Because that was what he did best.

The Location Makes or Breaks Your Business

Lemonade Bob parked his tiny table next to a hot hilly tourist attraction. He knew that when people walked up and down the hill, they got really thirsty due to the hot sun and humidity.

Sure, he could have probably set up a shop in Sylhet where there are a greater number of pedestrians. But he was smart. He went where there was less competition and where there was an obvious specific need. He sold hydration to thirsty tired people.

Treat Every Customer with Respect and Fondness

I bought a glass of lemonade from Bob, and when I finished with it, he refilled it for free. He taught me how you can use lemons to protect your skin against the sun and how it wasn’t toxic like sunscreen.

He asked me about my family, where I was from, what I did and what my dreams were. He didn’t treat me like a customer, he treated me like I was a friend.

The next day I brought back seven people who were vacationing with me because I was so impressed with the level of service he provided.

Businesses have this mentality that their customers are just dollar signs. They forget that money is supposed to be evenly exchanged with the value that is offered. It is really pretty simple.

Remember, each one of your customers is the most important person in the world. Treat them as such.

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