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The Green Sheet Online Edition

December 26, 2022 • Issue 22:12:02

The very point of sale: Pain is a powerful currency

By Dale S. Laszig
DSL Direct LLC

Pain is a powerful currency. Lessons purchased with pain stay with you. Like most currencies, there are varying degrees and denominations. My curated business booklist on LinkedIn that disappeared one morning looks like small change compared to my years-long relationship with a bank that kicked my small business account to the curb.

In both cases, I’d been an exemplary customer with active accounts and upwardly trending followers and revenue, respectively. But in the end, I was a fraction of a percentage to these mega brands, not even a human being.

Small change

In my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve had to rely on others whose introductions and positive references helped me win that first byline or close that first major account. Their support inspired me to pay it forward to other startups by celebrating their unique ideas and brand differentiators in feature articles, breaking news and here, in this opinion column.

Along the way, I’ve also had to rely on technology platforms that promised to give me a thriving ecosystem or community forum where I could grow, learn and interact with other payments professionals. The experience of building my business on platforms that are far beyond my control showed me the flip side of interoperability, namely interdependence.

Big learning

As most merchant level salespeople (MLSs) would agree, payments is a relationship business. Communication skills and adaptability are as important as intelligence and technical prowess. Hopefully these examples, culled from my hard-earned lessons, will save you some grief.

  • Back up your data: Backing up data is a must. If I had backed up the business book reviews I had shared on LinkedIn, most of which were from post-graduate studies, I’d still have a list of favorite textbooks to reference in my research and business writing. When I emailed LinkedIn customer service, I was told the booklist was a trial feature that had been scrapped.
  • Trust but verify: Listening to your gut can be helpful when negotiating, hiring and vetting partners and service providers but it doesn’t hurt to run a credit check, read online reviews and look beyond provided referrals, which will obviously have nothing but positive things to say. Interview associates and former employees before entering into a formal agreement.
  • Do a trial run: Test driving a relationship instead of jumping in and hoping things work out, can save time, money and the pain of realizing your partnership will never live up to its promises. A bit of pro bono can go a long way to showing how your work will be received and how your prospective partner will show up. A trial client recently hired me for a project, then skipped out without paying. I walked away, grateful to have avoided a long-term commitment.
  • Chase your own dreams: Supporting others’ visions is commendable as long as you don’t sacrifice your own. I interviewed a company, invested in process improvement, that had my heart. Relating to every value the organization embodied, I wanted to do more than write about it. Unfortunately, my overreach cost me the relationship.

Embrace the suck

In her LinkedIn Live series, Gab with Garima, Biller Genie President Garima Shah presented “Embrace the Suck” on Nov. 17, 2022, pointing out we all learn firsthand about the pitfalls of growing a business. All kinds of bad things can and will happen, Shah explained to her enthusiastic audience, and she decided early on in her career to just roll with it. It gets better, she said, especially when you apply hard-earned learnings to your business practice.

It takes resolve, agility and agency to compete in a world of real-time payments and instant credit decisioning. Some big brands may challenge this assumption, but most MLSs would agree it’s difficult, if not impossible, for one individual or company to be all things to all people. Indeed, most of us have found it necessary to share capabilities, expertise and technology platforms as our industry becomes more open, transparent and interoperable.

Here’s to a happy holiday season and our continued success in 2023. end of article

Dale S. Laszig, senior staff writer at The Green Sheet and managing director at DSL Direct LLC, is a payments industry journalist and content strategist. Connect via email dale@dsldirectllc.com, LinkedIn and Twitter @DSLdirect.

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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