There once lived a pair of twin brothers, they did everything together. They grew up together, played together, went to school together, graduated and went to the same university together. Eventually they started a business together and became very successful. They were alike in almost every way, in every way but one, one brother always wore slip-on shoes, the other always wore lace-up ones.
It was this one quirk that had always allowed their friends and family and lecturers to tell them apart. No one really ever questioned it or found it odd, it was just one little difference between them. The brothers shared an estate and one day as they were preparing to depart on a business trip that would move their company up into the next level of success, the slightly younger brother, the one that always wore lace-up shoes called to his sibling asking if he had any spare laces as one of his had just broken.
The older brother laughed out loud at this, and replied:
“You know I always wear slip-ons, why would I have spare laces they have no purpose for me! Why don’t you just come here and borrow a pair of my shoes?”
The younger brother thought about this, looking at himself in his brown suit, he knew his brother was wearing a grey suit for this meeting, he would certainly have a pair of shoes that would match his brown suit that he wouldn’t be using. But he was bothered that he couldn’t find laces, he always wore lace-up shoes, that was part of who he was. Not wanting to be late for the meeting in the end he went and borrowed his brother’s shoes, but on the way home that night stopped and bought replacement laces for his own.
If you are wearing slip-on shoes, you don’t really find any value in a pair of laces, but if you have lace-up shoes (with either no laces or a broken lace), then that pair of laces is highly valuable to you. It’s all about how your circumstances and your perceptions define the value of something.
In our businesses we’ll often see a product or an idea that we think would be perfect for us to sell, but we have to take our own personal perception out of the equation and apply our niche and market base to it. Will our customers find the same value that we do? Or will that product just be a pair of laces to customers with slip-ons?