Innovate Durban is a non-profit company aimed at stimulating innovation within the Durban region. Its focus is to support and promote innovation by creating platforms that will build and develop the innovation ecosystem in Durban.
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Innovate DurbanBlog What’s in it for me?

What’s in it for me?

There is a human nature which I simultaneously understand and feel repulsed by. This is the notion of “What’s in for me.” This is a value proposition that one reflexively asks regardless of which side of the supply chain one sits,  whether supplier or consumer. As a supplier, one may feel that supplying the service or goods will provide fame, fortune, promotion or respect. A customer, on the other hand may purchase a service out of a need, greed, benevolence or persuasion. The customer in return expects make fair value. As an entrepreneur you should assume that the customer demands fair value.

Consider the price of petrol – would anybody in their right mind feel that the price of petrol is fair? This is the reality a petrol station finds itself in. How then does a petrol vendor provide this service to a motorist in a manner that will mediate this grudge payment? Is it possible?

In your life, you will alternate between being a customer and a supplier. Your experiences as a customer should inform even shape your behaviour as a supplier. Sometimes your cost might just make you appear to be the petrol vendor!

We all know the story of the motor mechanic who is never too busy to take on another job! Mechanics operates on the premise of last-in-first-out (LIFO). This survival instinct which while admirable is not very good for the perception of your reliability. On-time delivery is equally important, and we shall discuss this topic on another day.

By the way, Microsoft was also apparently famous with this notion in the 80’s. Every feature one asked Microsoft for, even ones they did not think of, was in “development” and “coming soon.” Folk in industry people then coined the term “Vapourware” as products that you hear of but never quite see. Don’t be guilty of this.

As an entrepreneur you may be innovative. However, while innovation is an important consideration, one must remember that today’s innovation is actually tomorrow’s standard feature. This means that product or service innovation while desirable is not the silver bullet to fortune. The budding entrepreneur should therefore seek an innovative differentiator.

South Africa (SA) has a very forgiving consumer market. This means  that we consumers are very loyal.  It does not mean that we like the service that we receive. Ask around if your friends or family ever changed from their initial bank. Yet in the UK people move their bank account at least 4 times in their lives. Losing a customer to a competitor in the same vertical is called churn.  The SA consumer is however becoming more demanding. If you are tardy in your service, you may be punished in the marketspace through customer withdrawal, churn or negative word-of-mouth.

The acclaimed television series, “The Office” had a scene where an office worker was quaintly reminded


“Accept in life that sometimes you are the pigeon and at other times you are the statue.”


When you supply a good of service think of the customer as the pigeon. How do you prevent that stuff falling on you.

My doctor’s receptionist routinely calls me after every consult. She asks how I am feeling. The self-same happens with my motor vehicle when I take the car for a service. I appreciate this. Can you replicate this follow-up? Check this out.

When I meet staff who demure “This is not my job.” I usually point to the example of a janitor (caretaker) who worked at NASA. The American President on a tour of the facility asked of the janitor “What do you do here?” The janitor responded “I am sending a rocket to the moon, Sir!” If you achieve this unity of purpose, you achieve cohesions within your organisational hierarchy.

In dealing with your sales base, do ask yourself. Who is my customer? What moves their cheese? Check this out Business-Client Relationship method.

What is the minimum expectation of you and how do you satisfy this expectation efficiently. What and how does your competitor satisfy the expectation? How can you be different?

What’s in it for you? Respect, admiration, a person who delivers on their promises is what. The fame and happiness become automatic.  And fortune? That, I am afraid no one can guarantee.


Watch this “What’s in it for me video


Author: Dr Surendra Thakur