Turning Setbacks Into Opportunities

Standing before his employees, all seated around the rectangular table for their Monday business meeting, 4th grade manager, Malcolm, shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t get it,” he declared. Scratching his cropped hair, he pointed at the graph that his bookkeeper had prepared. “We haven’t sold a single duct tape change purse.”


The employees looked down: Tarik at his fingernails, Daria, at her legal pad, Otis at his untied shoe. This was serious. Style Station, the venture they worked for in their Louisiana MicroSociety had spent $65 Micro dollars and four days in production to get this product line out.  


“What a failure,” 5th grader, Shaylee, sighed. Shuffling through her paperwork, she declared, “If we don’t sell any of these purses, then we are going to be ‘in the red’. We won’t be able to buy the stuff we need to make our wallets.” Again, Malcolm pointed to the chart to illustrate the point he was about to hash.”And those are our best sellers.”


Third grader, Tarik, looked up. “Why don’t we give away the change purses as a free bonus with our wallets? Kinda like how McDonalds gives prizes when you order a Happy Meal. No one would buy those plastic things. But they’re cool when they come with your food.” He was clearly onto something.  Daria, always thinking about the bottom line, was the first to react: “Yeah, but how’s that going to help us get our money back if we just give them away?”


“But we won’t give them away,” Malcolm interjected. “We’ll call it a ‘free’ bonus, and add in their cost when we price the deal. Customers will be happy. And we’ll stay in business. Win-Win.”


Shaylee started crunching the numbers. “Well, each change purse cost us $2 Micro dollars to make. We were trying to sell them for $5 Micro dollars to make profit.”


“That didn’t work,” mumbled Otis.


“So,” Shaylee continued, “What if we add $4 Micro dollars to the current price of $8 for each wallet? We’ll make our money back, plus some. Customers will walk away with two products instead of just one!”


“Makes sense to me,” answered Malcolm. Nods confirmed that all were in agreement. So bundle the new deal they did – much to consumer delight.


The following week, when inventory began to run low, Otis suggested that they try making duct tape roses. “Let’s talk AFTER you do some market research,” Malcolm responded. As his grandmom always said, “Never make the same mistake twice.” And he wouldn’t.  

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