Would Your Customers Lend You $8.4 Million?


Returning home late from a business trip last night, I had little time for the usual catalogues, credit-card solicitations and bills that clog my apartment mailbox. 

But one plain brown envelope, curiously stamped PRIORITAIRE, immediately caught my attention—and my interest.

The contents were even more curious: Vitsœ, maker of the stunning shelving system that graces my office, was asking me for money, so it could build and expand its production capabilities in the U.K.  

Vitsœ isn't looking for a handout, mind you. The company sent me a bond offering—paying attractive interest. The really interesting part, though: It is only offering the bonds to customers and suppliers. Writes Vitsœ Managing Director Mark Adams: 

"You are only reading this because so many of you have kindly said to me over [the] years, 'Just let me know if I could ever do anything to support Vitsœ.' That day has arrived." 

It's become fashionable, even cliché, for consultants to ask entrepreneurs the question, "If your company closed tomorrow, would your customers miss you?"

"Would your customers and suppliers lend you $8.4 million*?" is a far more telling question. In the case of Vitsœ, I'm betting the answer will be, "yes!" 

I may even join in that chorus. Earning 6+ percent to expand the influence of Dieter Rams's "10 principles of good design" sounds more gratifying to me than earning .85 percent at a bank. 

* about how much Vitsœ is seeking in U.S. dollars