Tuition Business Lesson #8: Split The Pie VS Grow The Pie

I was tasked by Steve to develop an innovative product for the business. We both poured a lot of time and effort into it. We were optimistic about the product’s market potential.

A few months into the project, I was getting upset about why I was not compensated at all for creating a new curriculum. Every partner who taught classes were paid an hourly wage. But any admin work, finance work, marketing work, curriculum creation work we do for the business, we can paid nothing. While I was feeling unfairly treated, I made the mistake of self-aggrandizement. Or just simply taking myself too seriously. I failed to see how other partners were also contributing in their own ways into various functions of the business.

I had to admit that I was influenced by others, when they told me that I was being ripped off by the team. What kind of business am I getting myself into, they said, when I invested money, did not get a single cent out of it, and had to burn midnight oil to create new products. What were other team members doing?

When I started listening to this kind of comments, it stirred up feelings of unfairness and bitterness in me. The more I worked on the new product, the more exploited I felt. I failed to see other team members’ contribution to the business in other aspects. All I could think of was how I should get paid for my effort. I even came up with an elaborated proposal to form a new subsidiary with Steve to create curriculum, and sell it back to our centre. Luckily or unluckily, it did not materialize.

Learning Point:

In the end, a friend DC reminded me that when I was calculative about my effort, I was “behaving like an employee”. What he meant, I think, was not to have short-term thinking. Business builders focus on growing the pie, not splitting it. One day the pie would grow so big that we would all get a big slice.

The people we surround ourselves with is very important. Had I not listened to my wise friend DC, I would have continued to feel bitter about putting in my work.

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