Listed here are some of the more creative business tactics I’ve seen in my day. These stories are all true. Hopefully they will stimulate your brain enough to come up with your own cool business techniques to make or save money.
I once worked with a guy who sold 30 second commercials to be played before movies at mom-and-pop operated movie theaters. All he would do is glance at some local businesses, take digital photos of their establishments, then he’d make a very cool and flashy 15-second advertisement for them using Powerpoint-like software.
The next day he’d simply walk in to the business, say “Look at this”, and open his laptop and play the ad for them. Businesses signed up right on the spot. He didn’t have to “sell” at all.
A toy company licensed their toys to other firms in Asia and South America for a 7% royalty. The company didn’t trust many of these foreign firms to accurately report sales and thus get paid their 7%. So they stipulated that one tiny but hard to manufacture part within each toy must be purchased from them. The number of monthly purchases from the foreign firms for that part was far more representational of what was going on than any sales report.
But what if the foreign firms started manufacturing the part themselves? No problem. The clever toy company purposely put a small defect into every part they sold, and once a year the CEO would actually purchase the toy retail from these foreign firms, and smash open the toy with a hammer to verify the internal part was indeed theirs. If it wasn’t, they’d immediately cancel the contract.
A 10 year-old kid wanted to make money during Halloween. So he went dressed up as a walking billboard. He went around to local businesses, selling a spot on his billboard for cash, promising he’d visit a lot of houses and many people would see him. Which, of course, he would have done anyway! He wanted candy!
He filled his billboard with ads, got his candy, and make a pile of cash. He actually ended up donating it all to charity. What a nice little boy.
Screw The Bad Guys
This one is so evil, it’s fantastic. A CFO once discovered one of the VP’s had set up a false vendor company and was embezzling funds, to the tune of $45,000. The VP was as clever as he was unethical. His shell company did actually ship product in order to look real, but only occasionally, and invoices were padded to the max.
Acquiring proof of the deception, the CFO reported his findings to the CEO, then said, “We’ve got this guy red-handed. I’ll call the police right now.” The CEO stopped him and said, “Wait. Not yet. I want my $45,000 back first.” The company then placed a $45,000 order with the false vendor stipulating net terms. The product arrived on the loading dock, and the company tore up the invoice and never paid. The VP went to prison, and the company got all their money back.
A young entrepreneur went to a cookie factory and offered to sweep up all the excess cookie crumbs for 30% less than the current janitorial service they were using. The cookie factory was delighted at the savings and hired him on the spot. The entrepreneur simply swept up the cookie crumbs once a week, packaged them in fancy bags, then drove across town and sold the crumbs to a large farming operation to feed their chickens for big bucks.
Screw The Bad Guys Redux
I’ve saved my favorite for last. This is just awesome. The owner of a home electronics retailer in Chicago was ticked off at how expensive garbage collection was becoming in the downtown area. So no problem. He simply started having all of his employees dump their trash into a huge box that was used for an expensive flat screen TV. Once a week, they’d seal up the box very nicely like it had just come from the factory. Then they’d place the box outside on a well-lit street corner or alley.
Without fail, every time they checked the box the next morning, it had been stolen. Thieves make great garbage men. I can only imagine the look on those thieves’ faces when they cracked open that TV box to see what was really inside.
Business creativity isn’t that tough. You just need to think calmly and outside the box. Give it a shot.