In addition to being a doctor, my little sister likes to try her hand at a bit of business whenever an opportunity presents itself. This year, she invested in a men's grooming spa on the Spintex road, called Myna.
I went there for the first time the same week I moved to Accra, and had, quite literally, the best haircut of my life. Since then, I have made the journey every weekend to sit in the barber's seat for a quick touch-up.
And it’s not a small journey either, from where I live to Spintex, but, in spite of the fact that there are several talented barbers in my area, I'm still happy to make the trip every Sunday. I do it to support my sister. Her business depends on repeat customers in order to succeed, and so if I have money to spend on a haircut every weekend, then I'll spend that money on a haircut from my sister's spa.
The other day, I went to the workshop of a designer friend of mine. When I walked in, she was on the phone with someone, and it appeared the person wanted to buy one of her 100 cedi products, but was asking for a discount, claiming she could only afford 20 Ghana cedis. I listened with a smile, as my friend patiently explained to the person on the phone that she couldn't go round giving 80% discounts on all her products, otherwise she would go bankrupt in a week. The person on the phone, thanked her and said she would call again when prices were reduced.
This conversation was very familiar to me. Since I started this job, a few of my friends and acquaintances have asked me to host events for them, and whenever I've brought up the payment issue, they have suddenly changed the subject, and, invariably, their event ends up being hosted by someone else.
My people, I think most of us know what it takes to start a business; time, effort, courage, and a great deal of money. I know it cost my little sister all of these things to get her pace up and running, so in acknowledgement of that, and in support of her efforts, I always pay in full for any service or product I get from her. In fact, if she'd let me, I'd pay extra, just because I want to support her and her business to succeed. If I go there for free haircuts every week, using up her resources without adding to her revenue, her business will eventually suffer because of me. Now why would I do that to someone I care about?
In this world, we all like a freebie, or a fantastic bargain. This is why we get excited when we hear that a friend or family member has opened a business, because we expect to enjoy full access to whatever they are selling, either for free, or at a hefty discount. After all, what are friends for? And is blood not thicker than water?
Today, I want us to remember what we already know: that relationships work two ways. Our loved ones who are trying to make a living, need us far more than we need them. They need our support, they need our patronage, they need our patience, and our understanding. They need us. They are not our meal ticket, they are not our free lunch. If anything, we should be buying them lunch whenever we can.
In Ghana, seventy-five percent of startup businesses fail in the first three years . Don't be the reason why your loved one's dreams are shattered.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and life is about give and take. We've taken. Now let's give.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!