The heel of my shoe had come loose – the shoes I just had fixed a couple of weeks earlier. I hand them in to the same shoemaker. As soon as I collect my shoes I go and buy a flower, which I give to the shoemaker. Is this normal behaviour?
Do you recognise it? This is nothing new for me. I bought a bun for my hairdresser the first time he cut my hair. Many years have passed and yes, he still cuts my hair. But what is it that gives me such great pleasure and compels me to thank, give to, acknowledge these business people. Well, this is the naked truth. These people are entrepreneurs and by that I mean real entrepreneurs. They genuinely love what they do and every waking hour is spent in challenging and improving every aspect of their own profession. They are completely immersed in their calling, their aim to deliver quality in every little detail and to ensure that as a customer I am fully satisfied with what they deliver.
The incident with the heel happened about a year ago. The heels of the same old shoes had now started to make noises as if something was loose inside and a week ago I was back at my shoemaker again. The door was locked. He had changed his working hours and now opened later in the day. I, who in the past could come here before work, now had to come back at 10 o’clock. I was short of time as usual before an impending London trip so I was somewhat irritated when I stepped through the door, and of course my first question was about the new opening hours. My shoemaker smiled at me and explained that he had asked all his customers, and most of them would rather he stay open in the evenings. Now he is open until 8.00pm as there are many who are stressed, have long working days and find it difficult to organise the different aspects of their lives, so naturally he would alter his routines to suit. Our subsequent conversation was about customer experiences and how he now even sent out an SMS when shoes were ready for collection.
It is a great pleasure to meet a passionate entrepreneur. Suddenly you are drawn into a private room filled with years of skills and know-how. I got goose bumps when I heard about the new rubber compound, which gives heels a longer lifespan and offers better shock absorption for the skeleton. I get goose bumps when I hear someone explaining enthusiastically how you know when you have good hairdressing scissors, or when as a customer I am aware of the very minute differences one feels when somebody really cares about my hair and how it must be cut so that it is just right for me.
Nerdy you might think, but it’s all in the detail. It takes years to be skilful within your profession. I feel the word passionate is overused. It is easy just to say. I meet many who use the term as if just being passionate is enough. No, it certainly is not. The most beautiful word I know is courage. There are few of us who are courageous. Have courage to choose their path when the masses are pulling in another direction, courage to resist the money and obvious advantages in the short term in order to follow their personal calling and the path they believe to be right. This journey is called determination. What makes an entrepreneur challenge himself day in day out, test and develop himself and not give up at the first hurdle? How can a taped seam be important? What is important about a certain type of rubber compound? Metal construction? Architectural drawing? Design experience? How food tastes? Why is it that we care so much that we want to create and offer top quality in everything we do? There are many business people, but real entrepreneurs are few and far between. For qualifications read passion, determination and courage. These nerds bring the fun into my life. When I meet such an entrepreneur – I am compelled to run off and buy a bun.
Ditte Hammarström has a background as an art director at advertising agencies both in Sweden and UK. She is passionate about user-driven design and to help entrepreneurs succeed online. Ditte is one of the founders of Snowfire design community, where agencies and developers collaborate on the Snowfire platform to help businesses grow.