Do what you love: Part 3 – Products and niches

Raise your hand if you have too much stuff in your house. Did you raise yours? I raised mine. Twice!

Most of us in America are very fortunate souls, even if we don’t always feel like it. But do we ever care where these products that we buy come from? Rarely. Only if we later find out that it was, for example, made in China and contains lead paint.

Outsourcing is a hot buzzword. Every day I get an article from someone about how to outsource and why I should do it. Let me tell you, it’s a thought that scares me. But that’s just between you and me, okay?

Come closer and I’ll tell you why. I don’t want to be overheard.

First, we start by outsourcing products to be made by someone else. Then we start outsourcing services. Have you ever heard of a company outsourcing their tech support to another country? Have you ever called for help and gotten someone in India? Never happened, right? Unfortunately, these will never go away. As I stated in the first post, sometimes we need to let someone else handle things so we can invest in our own time. It’s not always bad, but consider this:

What happens to the people left behind after a company outsources it’s products and services? Those people no longer have jobs. If they don’t have a job, they don’t have the money to buy products and services. The people in the countries where the jobs have been outsourced to now have the money.

Do you see why this scares me?

Every time a company outsources because it’s cheaper, it hurts the economy. We’re digging our own hole and we haven’t stopped.

Too serious for you? Come jump down the rabbit hole further with me. I’m just getting warmed up.

I’m not the only one who’s seen this trend but their response scares me even more. The typical reply is that as a country America is moving away from being a product-making and service-providing economy. Those “left-brained” tasks can be done by other countries more cheaply. So we are becoming a “right-brained” society and it’s our job to find niche markets and ideas for others to make.

First, like people in other countries can’t have ideas? Please! Not to mention that ideas have no value until they can be realized. Aren’t you glad that some of your dreams are just dreams and didn’t become reality while you were having them?

Second, I don’t want my plumber coming over and only working on my kitchen sink because that’s his niche. Or an electrician that will only work on outlets that service lamps. Do you see what niches carried to the extreme become? That’s not to say that niches can’t be a good thing. Through Dan Miller, I’ve heard of a physical therapist who only works with people from the knee down. He provides necessary help to people.

Artists are people who also need to find a niche. Surprised to hear me say that?

It’s not that surprising I hope.

Artists are the gauge by which society is viewed and recorded. Would we have any idea what ancient Egyptian society was like if it were not for the artists of that time period?

Artists are the voice for what’s good and bad in our world. The May 2009 cover of Art in America had several little Oriental girls sleeping underneath a bright pink comforter. It’s a beautiful picture, until you see the automatic riffles on top of the comforter. This photograph isn’t something I want hanging in my living room, but it carried such a voice that I’ve been unable to forget about it. It’s a thought provoking piece that is meant to make the viewer stop and reassess.

Back in Part 1, I mentioned the guy changing my car battery. He provided me with a product (the battery) and a service (installing the battery). Art is like that too and artists need to realize this. Not only is the artwork a product, but we’re providing a service as well – whether it be shipping a piece and the time involved to make sure it gets to the destination safely, to taking abstract thoughts and putting them into our craft, to hanging our works for shows, right down to actually making it. 80% of the population wants to write a book. Those that do (which is a much smaller percentage) are providing a service to the reader. Without the written book, there would be no product.

Well that’s just labor, you might say.

A tax preparer delivers a tax return. Do you think they think of the work that goes into preparing the tax return as labor? No, they realize they are providing a service to their client. Labor is what you do when you work at something. Service is what you do when you put your knowledge and expertise into a product. Hopefully, you enjoy making that product, otherwise, why have you become good at something you don’t love?

An artist should start painting from the heart, whatever they desire to paint. A potter should start making whatever the clay wants to be. A writer should just write that first draft to get it out. But eventually, there comes a time when craft has to come in. The painter should gain more control over what’s being painted. A potter should be able to shape the clay at will. A writer has to learn to edit the words and make the story better. This is the knowledge and expertise.

Our economy won’t improve until we start realizing that products come with service as well and we need to pay for that sometimes build-in service. We can’t just be looking around for the cheapest price anymore. We have to see what others are putting in. Like the service I get from the office supply store I mentioned in the last post. If a store isn’t treating you as you’d like to be treated, why are you still shopping there? Yes, the store might be more expensive down the street, but if they are treating you better, isn’t that worth it? Why tolerate to save a couple bucks?

Would you want someone else buying another painting, or buying another vase, or buying another book not because they like the other product better but because it’s cheaper?!!! No, you wouldn’t.

Find the service in the product you provide and you’ll start seeing more of their worth.

Find people who love what they do to help you with things outside your knowledge base and you’ll help the world.

Find the value in the products and services you buy and you’ll open yourself up to the abundance of the universe.

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4 Responses to Do what you love: Part 3 – Products and niches

  1. Liz Crain says:

    Hi Dawn,
    I have enjoyed this series of posts quite a bit. You have given me a few new ways to think about what I am doing with my work out there in the world!

    • dawnblair says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, Liz, and that you found benefit from it. I had a lot of fun writing it. I hope to get more articles like this posted in the future.

  2. Dawn: This series is wonderful. You definitely provoke thought. I’m wanting others to hear your words, really hear them, and hopefully you have started a dialog. I’m passing a link on to as many people as I can. Great work. Keep it up. And thank you.

    • dawnblair says:

      Thanks, Jackie! I’ve found several people in agreement with me – but I wonder how many practice it. Sometimes that’s the hardest part.

      I do have an amusing little story that I’ll add here. Last week I couldn’t find my stapler for putting together my booklets. They were all printed, sorted, and ready to go. I went to the office supply store and found a stapler that would do what I needed it to. It was 3 times as expensive as the stapler I was missing. That irritated me a bit, but what else could I do. Well, I discovered option 3: let the store staple the books for me.

      The gal and I chatted as she stapled my books. She took a lot of care doing it. I felt bad because I’m so use to doing everything myself and so it was hard to just stand there and talk with her. She was enjoying herself because it gave her something to do on a night that had been otherwise calm.

      I left with my 35 copies stapled and paid less than $4.50, versus buying the stapler and doing it myself for $35.00. The lesson I needed to learn: getting a service isn’t always the more expensive option.

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