New “Business Models”: Entrepreneurial Lessons from Preachers, Prostitutes, and Cockroaches

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Whether you’re actually starting up a business or not, everyone can and should take a more entrepreneurial approach as to how business is conducted nowadays. And you can take entrepreneurial cues from creatures that have managed to survive, prosper, and multiply for centuries under incredibly difficult circumstances. There are some lessons to be learned from cockroaches too, ha, ha.

The Entrepreneurial Prostitute. Members of the oldest profession have mastered the art of supply and demand, know the importance of “location, location, location,” and are well aware that it’s easier to upsell existing customers than it is to attract new customers.

The Entrepreneurial Preacher. This WSJ story suggests the wisdom of business owners doing a better job of meeting and getting to know customers and prospective customers (or congregation, as it were). A personal touch, like handing out gift baskets to local businesses, also helps you spread the word—and bring in new members (or customers, as it were). And above all, the pastor business model should be followed for its creativity and efficiency in the real business at hand, i.e., getting money out of people:

New churches often use innovative ways to encourage congregants to donate. Rather than relying on the collection plate, most preachers set up a website for online giving by credit card. Some try to make in-church giving easier, too, by putting a bucket in the lobby instead of asking people to toss cash into the plate—which makes people feel a lot less self-conscious about making small donations. It also helps the church seem less focused on money.

Small businesses could implement these sorts of ideas in a number of ways. The secular retailer who knows his customers well might feel comfortable providing layaway plans, flexible no-interest credit and discounts for cash payments. The key is to play off the personal relationship that a small business has with its customers—something a big business, like a chain store, might not have.

The Entrepreneurial Cockroach. According to this Planting Dollars post, cockroaches would make excellent entrepreneurs for three reasons: They’re quick, they don’t die easily, and they’re adaptable.

So, for that matter, are the preachers and hookers — at least the ones who are really good at what they do.

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