Do you really care about customers or do you just want their money?

ourCustomersI’ve been guilty of looking for a quick buck! Let’s be honest for a moment, we all want more customers and we all want their money but do you really care about customers? In times past, I have made the error of wanting customers to solve my problem. I’ve needed their money or I have a product I want to sell quickly. In studying some of the most successful businesses you see that whilst they massed large amounts of money from their customers, their first priority was to solve their customers problems, not their own.

Our value as individuals in the working world is determined not by our degree or professional qualifications, it is by the problems we solve. Getting a new job and winning a new customer are the same, hiring or buying based just on price will always end in tears.

We all worry about getting money, but if that is our reasoning to gain customers, the whole buying process will be tainted by our need/greed and our service will be affected. If you have an idea which can solve a real problem, you can communicate about it well and  you can deliver that service or product in a great way, money will not be a problem.

So do you really love your customers?

4 tools for business owners

Wherever you are in life, if you aspire to grow your business, you have to grow yourself too. A one-man band outlook will not help you when you have staff. In order to grow your business, you have to grow yourself too. There are lots of famous quotes out there, we have all seen them, but the truth is this, if you don’t grow, your capacity as a person won’t grow and so, you limit your own capability.

Human beings are capable of such much, yet we so easily rest on our laurels and don’t like to push our capabilities, stretch ourselves to reach new possibilities. Have you ever read the 4 hour work week by Tim Ferriss? His book is full of radical ideas, but what impresses me about this guy is his eagerness to conquer obstacles such as winning competitions with only a few hours preparation or learning a language in a few days. It shows the potential and ability of the human mind when it is set on a task.

Here are some of the tools I recommend to help you stretch yourself and grow…

1. Google Apps

For years I struggled with managing email, then I discovered Google apps. Mail, Calendar, Tools, Contacts all sync’d with your phone. Not only that, with Google drive you can create all the usual Microsoft office documents and have them stored in your drive for use anywhere anytime.

2. Evernote

I used to come across loads of great articles and inspirational ideas to help me in business. The problem was, how would I remember them all. Well, Evernote is the solution. Using my phone app and desktop tool I can cut and store articles to help me read them and recall them later without any stress.

3. Entrepreneur Magazine

What I really love about this online magazine is that it is incredibly practical. I have learned so much from this site and my Evernote is busting to the seems with useful material to help me learn and re-learn new ideas and remind me of the old ones. Some of my favourite articles are….

The Simple Secret to Making an Instant Connection With Everyone You Meet

Coach Yourself to Success With These 6 Tips

5 Ways for Bootstrapped Startups to Get Through the First Year

4. History

There is nothing new under the sun. Technology may develop but people despite this are pretty much the same. Looking at history and what people have done throughout time can bring you incredible inspiration and insight into how to grow as a person. I find the Bible gives me insight and wisdom. One particular part of the Bible which brings me inspiration is the Book of Proverbs. This book is crammed full of inspirational wisdom on life, business and how to grow as a person. I recommend it as a good read.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another   Proverbs 27:17

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  Proverbs 15:1

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is a slave to the lender.  Proverbs 22:7

 

 

Please don’t call yourself a CEO

I have been tidying up my Linkedin profile recently as it has been neglected for many months. There is a handy little option on Linkedin, well, on most social sites, it is called ‘People you may know’. The tech genius’ at Linkedin have some savvy algorthym which picks up who you might know and gives you a handy list. Coming back to the point, I was strolling through the suggested contacts, some of which were accurate, some of which were not and I spotted a few startup business directors onthere with the title of Chief Executive Officer. Wow, so many Chief Executive Officers were on there I should have been over-the-moon to be mixing in such powerful circles, sadly, it was not so.

In the business world today it seems Managing Director, Director are out and we now have CEO instead. The grumbling I have is that in order to be a Chief Executive, you must by the very nature of the title have other Executive Officers, otherwise, why do you need to have a Chief? If you are a startup business with more than one director and significant investment, then you can call yourself a CEO.

Listen to this one (details changed so I don’t name and shame their company)….

‘Í am the CEO of Joe Bloggs Windows Ltd’

What this guy didn’t say is that this is a one person business. If you are interested in a great job title, God help you. Who cares about your job title? Your customers don’t, in fact if you use a grand title and your are small business, your customers will see through it and believe your are either on a ego trip or very insecure. Customers, for the most part, are not stupid.

CEO implies that your business is significant. You’ll look like an idiot, if you present your business card and then they realiseits just 3 people or 10 people or just you. If you are starting out, here are some great titles to use….

These title suggestions assume you are an ordinary startup business that hasnt secured millions of pounds of startup capital or you don’t intend to hire 50 people in the next 3 weeks.

  • Retail Store – Store Owner / Propreitor
  • Business to Business – Director / Add field infront if there are multiple Directors (e.g. Finance Director, Sales Director etc)
  • Business to Consumer – Customers like to feel they are buying from an established company, so it can be an advantage to not have a grand title.
Not being CEO is good….
Sometimes, it’s good to not look like you are the big cheese in your business, particularly if you are dealing with customers directly. In some circumstances you want that distance so that you can ‘check with whether we can do that for you’ .Its a negotiating tactic that can help in the early days.  If you are a new business it can be hard for an owner operator in negotiations because you are keen to win as much business as you can and long to make every customer happy. Being the organ grinder in negotiating makes it harder to create wiggle room and more tricky to resolvesitautions where a customer isdisatisfied. Sometimes, not being a CEO can help.

Just a thought….