By: Eric Wagner
Many aspiring entrepreneurs I cross have it wrong. They believe building a wildly successful business will just happen with a snap of the fingers. As if out of nowhere, a good genie in the sky will appear to bless their idea and suddenly fill their bank account with billions.
Time to wake up.
After playing this game for over 30 years, I can say one thing: building a successful business in theory is very simple, as I will show below.
However, execution falls into a whole other dimension. Call it the ‘eye-popping, hair-pulling, I can’t believe how hard this is’ state of reality.
But, if you can do the following 5 things well, I’d place a bet on your bank account:
Wait–before we begin, let’s get clear on where you need to focus during this entire lifetime of entrepreneurship. And please, don’t ever let anyone steer you differently. Fixate those eyes squarely on your customer. Period.
Okay, so now that we’re on the same page, listen carefully–
You must start with a deep passion to serve them. It’s your purpose. And it burns from within because you care about them. I mean really care. Not just some brush off statement, but a deep empathy. Not just in it for the bucks, but in it to serve a calling.
Those entrepreneurs who truly care for who they serve usually win the long-game. Seth Goldman at Honest Tea. Blake Mycoskie at TOMS Shoes. Tony Hsieh (pronounced “shay”) at Zappos. Each cares deeply about, wait for it–their customer. And it shows in the success of their businesses.
So fall in love with your customer.
Since you now have a deep passion for who you serve, next up calls for you to get out of your chair, walk through the front door of your work space, and get out in the streets to have real dialogue with them. Amazes me still how many struggling entrepreneurs have never made an effort to truly connect with their customer. And they wonder why they struggle…
Bottom line? Get to know them. Ask them about their deepest fears, and their most vivid aspirations. And then listen to their answers. Hear them. Feel them.
Believe me–inside the soul of the person we call our customer hangs the key to our success. It’s right there on the hook. All you have to do is care enough to connect with them and go get it.
“But wait?”, you may ask, “When do we talk about the products and services I have to offer?”
Let me share a story with you. It’s about a woman who just spent her life savings building an online software product. Took her 3 years. Afterwhich, she launched it to the world. Only nobody cared. Nobody wants it.
Sadly, many entrepreneurs I meet madly build products, messaging, and services to attempt to wow customers they’ve never actually met. Never connected with.
Notice where we stick the ‘create’ verb in this process? Yes–only after you connect with them are you allowed to build anything. And even then, do it lean. Think minimally. And for goodness sake, involve your customers in the process. Ask them for input along the way. Adjust accordingly until you have something they can’t live without. Don’t worry about being perfect along the way. Your customers will help you make it perfect–to fit them and their needs.
And this applies not only to your products, but the way in which you communicate the value of those products. Your messaging. Your story. Your value.
By now, if you’re engaged in dialogue with your potential customers, and you’re creating remarkable products, value propositions, and messaging which match their needs, then it should be fairly easy to move to the next step. Yes–convincing them to simply buy from you.
In fact, this reminds me of a quote by Robert Stephens, founder of the Geek Squad, which pretty much wraps this notion up in a tidy little bow. He said:
“Marketing is the price you pay for being unremarkable.”
Ouch. Time to make sure we care, connect, and create the right stuff (remarkable) so it makes the convincing easier…
Finally, the day has arrived to blow them out of the water with your service. Some call it ‘the wow factor.’ I call it coddling.
But no matter how you spell it, the fact remains–you must work your tail off to keep your customer happy. You know it. I know it. Look outside your window to see a fast paced, ever changing, ‘grass is greener on the other side of the fence’, world. One where a competitor will think of nothing but how to swipe your fickle customer away.
So coddle. Exceed expectations. Go beyond the call of duty to turn your customer into your loyal friend. Your evangelist. For life.
So is this the end? Of course not. As you can see in the image below, head back up to the beginning. Start with care and go through it again. You see, when you do this, you continue to innovate. You continue to focus on what matters, and you’re constantly reminded of why you do what you do.
Call it the circle of success. Round and round you go. But as I said in the beginning, I am betting on your bank account when you follow these 5 simple strategies. See you at the teller window.
Eric. Lifelong entrepreneur, author of Walk Through Fire, and Founder of Mighty Wise–empowering entrepreneurs to build great companies.