Tips for Entrepreneurs: The treasure map

There are many gems in your own business and home. Look for them and you will find them.

US dollars 390 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
US dollars 390
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Truth is stranger than fiction, and there are few stranger stories than the famous Jewish tale about Reb Azik Reb Yekeles. In short, the story goes like this: For several nights in a row Azik, a poor Jew, dreamt about a treasure hidden under the bridge in Prague. Attaching significance to the repetition, he trekked on foot to Prague. To his dismay, when he arrived at the spot he had seen in his dream, it was occupied by soldiers who were camped at the foot of the bridge, making digging at that spot totally out of the question.
Azik stood there for a while considering his options and wondering how he could still get to the spot. However, one of the Polish officers noticed the Jew standing there, and thinking he was a spy, challenged him, demanding to know what he was doing. Trying to extricate himself from this new predicament, Azik hesitantly told the officer about his dream.
The officer guffawed loudly and said, “Only a fool can possibly believe in dreams. For weeks already, I’ve been dreaming that in the town of Kazimierz there is hidden treasure under the oven of the home of the poor Jew Azik Jakubowicz. So, I dream! Do you really think I am dumb enough to hike all the way to Krakow and look for the house of this Isaac the son of Yekeles?”
Azik returned home immediately, took his oven apart, found the treasure and became rich. He later built a famous synagogue that stands and in is use today.
After this it was said: ‘There are some things that you can look for the world over only to find them in your own home. Before you realize this, however, you very often have to go on a long journey and search far and wide.”
This story is one of my personal favorites because it is simple with a profound truth. It reminds us that we too often look for the golden treasures we think are found only in other people’s lives and businesses and not in our own.
(Why do people in Israel buy real estate in Bulgaria, and Bulgarians buy real estate someplace else? The same goes for people who know nothing about oil and gas exploration yet risk their own fortunes to invest in it because it sounds exciting.)
Your own business has a tremendous amount of hidden assets that you can tap into. You may not have gold buried under your oven, but new opportunity abounds in your own business and contacts. There is no need to look for gems elsewhere. If you know your industry better than you know another, you should leverage that opportunity.
How to find your treasure map
Begin to draw your treasure map by asking yourself these questions: What other businesses that are not your competitors want your customers? What else do your customers want that you aren’t selling? What customer relationships do you have that you can leverage for new business, repeat business, or for prospective leads?
One you have the answers, create one of the most powerful forms of getting new business: the endorsement letter. Nothing sells to a prospective client like an introduction from someone they know.
Ask a satisfied client to write a letter of introduction to a friend or colleague for you, and then mail that letter, at your expense. Ask them to mention something in the letter that is a common interest to the person they are writing and yourself. Perhaps you both attend the same school or synagogue, or you both have young children, or grew up in the same town, or both love a particular kind of music, sport or entertainment. This common interest helps generate the person’s interest in you before they meet you.
The letter should introduce them to you and your firm and offer them a special deal or opportunity not available to the general public.
Your client will usually do this because they like you and want to be of help – or they will do it in exchange for a commission or discount. The most elegant way to do this is to trade such letters when possible – you mail your clients an introduction about that person, and they do the same for you. Make them that offer at the same time you make the request, and you’re likely to get an excellent letter!
(I’m soon going to be giving a seminar that will be marketed with the leveraging technique of getting past attendees to recommend going to their friends. Being told to go from someone they know and trust will outdo any paid advertising I could otherwise do.)
This is possible because on the social-media side, LinkedIn has simplified this. When you browse someone’s LinkedIn profile and see recommendations they have given to others, it generates interest in your services via endorsement, but in a way that is totally pitch and sale free. It’s the best possible type of non-direct referral because it leaves the prospect totally in control. If they contact you, they are doing it with real interest in doing business with you and not because they’re just “kicking tires.”
There are many gems in your own business and home. Look for them and you will find them.
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Issamar Ginzberg is a rabbi, businessman, public speaker and marketer.