Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Seller/Buyer Conundrum

This week we went through two important transactions where we were the seller parties. I sold a Ford pick-up truck that was sitting in our garage for a good part of 5 years. We also signed papers to sell a rental property that we have had for almost 7 years. Again in both instances we all signed on the dotted lines that designated we were the sellers. Since we went through a barrage of documents to sign, in one instance I had automatically signed on the dotted lines intended for the buyer. I initially had paid no mind thinking I just needed to sign again under the dotted lines for the seller. But was summarily stopped by a staff member of the company, graciously informing me that he had to reprint the whole page because of strict company rules. So except for that little glitch, both transactions went quite smoothly. Until a few days later when I started thinking about it.

Why did I instinctively and reflexively sign on the dotted lines for the buyers? What caused that to be so? After much thought and reflection I came up with these observations, and a conclusion.

Because our personal callings in our lives were that of being employed, most of the transactions that we got into in our lives were that as buyer. We bought things and stuff. We bought clothes, houses, cars, etc. In most instances then where documents were presented and required for signature, we typically signed on the dotted lines for buyers. But don’t we sell our services to our employers? True, but we would rather think of our services as being exchanged for money and benefits. Of course, as employees there are instances where we do become sellers, like selling our old houses or cars to buy new ones. But comparatively speaking, we most likely are buyers in transactions. So by default when people like us sign papers, we instinctively go to the dotted lines for buyers.

But entrepreneurs are different. In many instances they are the sellers. They provide goods and services to be sold to third parties or consumers. They are the store owners, the factory operators, the company owners in their nice offices. In short, they are our employers.

In the scheme of things, are the differences quite marked? I am sure there are many similarities and differences, but here I focus on only one aspect of this distinction. The seller creates or produces some things or provides certain services that they hope people will have need for. They design and devise things to give them value and functionality which hopefully the users will be attracted to.

On the other hand, the buyer is in the position of choosing certain things that would be needed in his life. When he looks at a product for example, he is weighing how the product is going to serve his particular needs, and making judgments on how well the product and its features will perform for him.

The role of seller appears exciting and interesting, bringing to the fore our admirable qualities of ingenuity and resourcefulness so that we can bring out products that people can like. While sellers are also buyers since they are also consumers, it does appear enviable to be essentially a seller and secondarily as a buyer. Rather than simply be a buyer all our lives.

The reason being that a seller obviously is a provider, while a buyer is simply a user.

Is it then instinctively so also that at certain points in any one person’s life, there is the innate desire to be an entrepreneur, and thus be a provider, a seller?