Τρίτη, 28 Ιουνίου 2011

Imitation is the best form of flattery




A couple of years after I had my language school up and running,inspired by Michael Gerber's classic book on small business development,The E-Myth (which he sent to me for FREE all the way to Greece,as part of a special promotion offer) I decided it was time to take my business to the next level.

So I embarked on the grand mission of designing an operations manual for a new,improved version of my school,LEXIS,fashioned after the ideal language school of my dreams.This model,in turn,would provide the basis for a future franchise model.Meaning that the manual would act as a mold for as many identical clones of LEXIS as I could envisage (I've always been a big dreamer).

With the zeal comparable only to that of a just-converted -from -atheism-reborn Christian I set out to write the business model of my dreams.But first I knew I had to study the best language schools I could find.I knew I had to pick other entrepreneurs' brains,so I came up with a plan.For six months I embarked on a mystery shopping tour of all the best franchised language schools in Thessaloniki and Athens.I was interested in their adult students programmes.I visited more private schools I could care to remember,I talked to countless director of studies and secretaries.

And I wrote down everything: location,classroom layout,colours,level of service( it sucked,mostly),prices,curriculum,structure,teachers,brochures,you name it.The most productive part,though,was talking to the actual owners,the franchisors.I managed to do that by expressing interest in becoming a franchisor to their business.In order for them to persuade me to join their franchise they spent many,priceless hours explaining to me the benefits of their business models.In other words they were educating me for free on how their success came about!

All this resulted in a 4-month language course programme specifically targeting adult students that wanted results(and a certificate) fast.When we first launched this,it met with resistance and doubt because all 'normal' language courses for adult students lasted between one to 2 years.''It cannot be done''.''You are imposters''.''Your advertising is misleading'' etc.

Eight years(and many hundreds of certificates for our students) later a lot of language schools in my town have incorporated the four month language program in their courses as well.When I found out about this at first I was half angry,half amused.How dare they?It was the product of my hard work!But then I noticed a weird thing happening: the more schools or teachers imitated our four-month program,the more students kept pouring in and enrolling to our classes!It was no coincidence,I've kept track of it!

How could this be?Oughtn't there to be less students with more competition?

Actually no.Here's how it works:

-The more people spread the message of it,the more potential students were informed of the benefits of that particular program and so the more demand there was for the lessons.An idea,any idea,that circulates,attracts more and more supporters as time goes by.So the initiator of this idea reaps the most benefits,because she's at the top of the pyramid.Others reap benefit too,but not as many as the initiator.When prospective students come to the school now,they do not need to be educated about the actual value of our program,they do not need to be won over.They are actually pre-informed and ready to enrol,no effort to convince them on our part!

You see there is an absolutely irrefutable law in our universe,the Law of Reciprocation.That is,the more you give away of anything,the more (tenfold or sometimes even more) the universe has to give you back in return!    

Our program helped other school owners to find more students,so the more students they had because of us,the more the amount of students that enrolled with us multiplied!When I realised this I actually started handing out freely the whole construction of our program,to be taken and imitated by anyone that wished so.In fact there was a school that actually copied our information leaflet almost verbatim!

Just for the record,the school that copied our programs verbatim closed down within a year;if imitation is just copying,no incorporation of something creatively new and no credit given to the original,the copy is short-lived.Because the universe wants growth and expansion and cannot tolerate sterile copy-and-paste).To avoid the trap of ingratitude,I always inform to whoever might want to know where and how I found my inspiration regarding our 4-month program.And I still send out of town prospective students to the schools I found my initial inspiration from.

So do imitate and do let others imitate you,your ideas,your insights,dresscode,inventions,aha moments,writings,inspirations,works of art,furniture arrangement,special techniques,designs,business models,pc hacking codes,flirting methods,food recipes,flowerbed arrangements,perfected method of anything.

Do it freely,joyously and generously.

Do it because you like helping others help themselves help you.This is the true circle of life.What goes around,comes around multiplied.

Go read Steve Pavlina's excellent article on why he released all copyrights to his writings to see how this works in action by a master of its kind.And whenever you find yourself tempted to keep a particularly clever or helpful finding or ivention of yours just for yourself,say out loud:''Everything I give away,I receive back with interest.The more I give,the more interest I receive''.

Be a giver,be a receiver,be both with love and joy and gratitude.Because giving and receiving,as you are well aware of,are the two sides of the same precious coin of Life!




photos from here




                                           Love,peace and life exchange

                                                          Eirini


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