Capitalizing on Your Assets

As COVID has transformed our world, you may be considering how to go into business for yourself. Yet, many of us may feel fearful, wondering with meager resources how can we possibly succeed? Martha Matilda Harper provides both inspiration and offers practical steps. If a poor immigrant woman can change her life of servitude , any of us can do something concrete to change our lives.

The key is capitalizing on your assets. For Martha, bound out from the time she was seven, she seized her ten assets . Note none of her assets included money, great formal education or complicated plans.

  1. Expertise in pleasing. After 25 years of servitude, she was really good at pleasing folks. She turned that expertise into delighting the customer with her invention of the world’s first reclining shampoo chair. Since she was opening a new business concept, women’s beauty shops, he understood she had to assure her customers did not get soap in their eyes or water over their precious clothes. To solve that need, she created a simple chair that went backwards. It didn’t stop there, Martha had the sink cut out for the neck, so it was more comfortable. When she started her franchises, each franchise had to have the Harper “bowl” (the cutout sink) and reclining shampoo chair.
  2. Her long hair. Martha had beautiful hair and she cleverly used a photo of herself with her floor-length tresses to attract customers. She strategically place that photo on the exterior of of her shop door, intriguing folks to come in and discover her shop.
  3. Chairs. To introduce Rochester, NY to her new concept of women’s haircare, Martha cleverly invited the mothers bringing their children for music lessons next door to “rest their weary feet in her shop while they waited.” She offered them the chance to wait in her chairs, which gave Martha an opportunity to introduce her services to them. Did it work!
  4. Commitment. Bertha Palmer wanted Martha to open a shop in Chicago in times for the World’s Fair. Martha insisted Bertha get in writing signatures of 25 of her best friends to pledge to patronize the shop. No market research was needed. Martha had her clientele assured.
  5. Loyalty. As Martha was thinking through how she would expand her Harper shops, she decided to provide franchise opportunities only to poor women like herself. This was both a socially-conscious move, but also a brilliant move that assured that her methods and policies would be adhered to. Here franchisees were so grateful to Martha that she could send them, as she did, around the world and they would promote her Harper Shops to the letter. In a time of no computers, faxes, cellphones, that strategy was brilliant!
  6. Network. Rochester, NY, provided Martha with key connections to Susan B. Anthony and other suffrage supporters who delighted in Harper’s economic success as a path blazing woman. It also provided her with the Christian Science network who spread the word of her success. and her commitment to organic products.
  7. Determination. Martha knew all about hard work and she applied it to her stick-to-itness to cultivate the Harper Method franchise system. She was willing to work long hours.
  8. Focus. Unlike others, Martha did not stray from her commitment to a belief that health was beauty and her entire product line and patron approach was built around that principle. Organic products, healthy facials and hair stimulation all brought the inner beauty out of each patron.
  9. Savvy. Having served wealthy people as a servant, Martha understood those folks and where they liked to shop. Her ability to choose sites for the Harper shop was impeccable.
  10. Seize Opportunity. When Martha was bequeathed the hair formula for the tonic that made her hair so breathtakingly long, she seized that gift. She took a ferry across Lake Ontario and entered the United States ready to change her life. Indeed, she did. She continued to seize opportunities never hesitating to move forward with opportunities to build her business and succeed.

Good luck as each of you go forward, seizing opportunity , identifying and capitalizing on your assets, and transforming your life and the lives of others!


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