BY MARY-ELIZABETH HARMON
Founding Mother, Chard & Stripes
My first swipe at this story amounted to propaganda:
It was years ago, and I’d started by rehashing the idea that money is a return on providing value.
The thinking isn’t fully wrong, but it’s used by some folks to push the myth that people who make little money do nothing of merit.
Oh. Yeah. Right.
Just tell that to slaves who built up this nation.
Or to poorly-paid teachers shaping kids into leaders.
Or to caregivers whose unpaid contributions tending to adult family members totaled $470 BILLION in 2017 alone, according to an AARP estimate.
But like I said, the idea that money is a return on value isn’t fully wrong.
But it is incomplete:
Money is a return on providing value to certain people.
“Certain” people with money who pay fairly for the value they get.
The kind of people who seem to be missing from many corporations, especially ones that rely on workers not protected by U.S. labor laws.
A Bangladeshi seamstress earning less than a living wage provides huge value despite her pay:
Her work helps to fuel an apparel market that accounts for hundreds of billions in annual trade in the U.S. alone. But she’s easy to replace and her labor doesn’t work in her favor: she’s one of many feeding a few instead of a few feeding many, like big brands that sell to global shoppers. In other words, …
Making mad money is about providing value to mad numbers of people who pay for what they get, even if just a bit.
Keep in mind that value to Suzie might mean junk to Sally.
And junk can be costly, like cheapy clothes that require hurting workers and the environment to hit stores at prices that get shoppers hooked and coming back for more.
But there’s good news in all this:
Shoppers are dropping shady goods and services, and…
Value is as diverse as people, so chances are high that you can provide some for others. And you can start by setting a goal and scratching your own itch.
Years ago, I had a goal to make millions of bucks a year as an entrepreneur.
Then I got wise: I chose to let how I wanted to feel drive what I was willing to do.
If I could make millions while feeling joyful and close to my man, great. If not, that would be great too—I could change lives and live well on much less than seven figures.
At this point, I’d be thrilled to make modest money through Chard & Stripes. Though I hadn’t planned to share this today, I’m playing with an idea for a club, or something, for us to set money goals that we meet doing work that light us up.
I’m talking successive, stick-with-able goals that might sound paltry by some standards. For example, my first goal might be to make $100 bucks within 10 days by providing value—the shirt I mentioned last week—to chicks with small breasts and big fibroids.
I still wear A-cup bras but don’t have fibroids anymore, post hysterectomy. But when I did have seven pounds of fibroids, it was hard to find tops I liked that fit right. Maybe that’s TMI, but my point is that I would have paid a nice sum for a roomy-ish, worker-friendly shirt with a plunging neckline. And I still would if I weren’t planning on making it for myself.
What I’m saying is that we don’t need special powers to provide value. Solving ONE of your current or past problems for someone else is a perfect place to start making more money.
Or making mad money if that’s your desire.
Either way, what value might you provide and for whom?
Dr. Mary-Elizabeth Harmon is a scientist turned storyteller and Founding Mother of Chard & Stripes, a “school” of prosperity making and word-of-mouth marketing platform for businesses in food, fashion and more. Subscribe to her weekly newsletter here.