Most folks encounter Aesop's fables as young children. The short stories with morals tacked onto the end have been popular teaching tools for generations. Once out of grammar school, though, people tend to forget these little gems until they become parents and teachers themselves. And it's easy to forget there is much wisdom in these ancient tales that entrepreneurs can apply to business today. This is true for ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) and owners of other types of businesses in the payments value chain.
Take The Donkey and his Shadow, for instance. In this story a young man on his way to town on a hot day encounters a donkey and its owner heading in the same direction. He asks if he can hire the donkey. The owner agrees, allowing the young man to ride the donkey while he leads the animal to town. They agree on a price, the young man mounts, and the three proceed down the road.
However, it isn't long before the heat of the day becomes unbearable, so the young man says he must rest. As he dismounts, he orders the donkey's owner to move out of the animal's shadow. He wants the shadow's refuge because there is no other source of shade in the vicinity. The owner refuses, saying he rented the donkey, not the shadow.
A heated argument ensues, and the two men become so wrapped up in who should have the shadow that the donkey breaks away. They have to stumble to town on foot, and the animal's owner never recovers his animal.
The moral provided for this story: in quarreling over the shadow, we often lose the substance. This applies to ISOs and MLSs when they are negotiating contracts. So before you sign an agreement, make sure all parties to the document agree on exactly what the contract specifies. And if disagreements over interpretation of the contract's language occur despite your best efforts, don't get so caught up in arguing over details that you harm your business in the process.
We're no longer dealing with donkeys and shadows, but certain basics remain the same.
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