Business Strategies of a Wandering Balloon Seller

The chaos of Lahore is overwhelming. People ooze through the crowded streets in a never ending flow of human. I was fortunate to get a birds eye view of the mayhem from the safety of a mosque's minaret.

I found the economic disparity between east and west depressing. The people below were trying so hard to earn enough money to simply exist.

One person caught my eye, an older man who was wandering through the streets with a huge bunch of balloons. I observed him for about 5 minutes as he aimlessly ambled down the busy street, trying unsuccessfully to sell his balloons.

I got to thinking, how could he optimise his Balloon sales? Here are some of my ideas:

1. Increasing visibility in the market. Rather than walking through the street, would he actually be visible to more traffic if he picked a busy corner and stayed stationary? How could he increase his probability of being seen by a potential customer.Maybe having really long strings for some of the balloons so that they could be seen 5 or 10 meters above his head! Increasing his visibility in the market would increase his sales.

2. Creating a reputation would increase sales. If he sold from one place consistently, he would become known as a destination so that people would travel to find him there when they wanted to buy balloons.

3. Differentiating product to increase desirability. Could he make his balloons different or special in some way? Maybe drawing faces on them, maybe buying balloons that come in funny shapes, would having an unusual product increase his sales?

4. Targeting a different market. He is selling balloons to consumers. Might it actually be better for him to sell to businesses. Finding a nursery that might like to buy balloons on a Friday, or a cinema looking to do a promotion and selling his entire bunch of balloons to one corporate client at a discount?

I wonder how teaching foundational business concepts into a society could help it improve? If there was some kind of entrepreneurial education available would he build a balloon empire? Would his quality of life increase as a result of the education?

This man didn't lack the drive, the motivation to go out into the streets and sell. He lacked the education to be more successful at it, and that is heart breaking. I deeply believe that enterprise can and should be the foundation for a healthy, prosperous society. Enterprise needs to be taught better, education is key to progression.

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