Sure, I am as guilty as anyone of jumping on the Next Big Thing bandwagon – just look at my posts here and you will notice I have already written plenty about strategies for growing your business in this new world of business we find ourselves in. And yes, it is important that we look ahead because business is changing rapidly in this interconnected, 24/7 e-world. We have to stay up with the times.
But even as we do, let’s not forget what got us here in the first place: A dream, and taking care of business. Because when it comes right down to it, those are the sorts of things that form the foundation of any great business – e-biz or otherwise.
Many years ago, an old friend of mine wanted to start his own consulting business. Not knowing anything at all about business, he went and saw a SCORE counselor. (If you don’t know of SCORE, you should. It is a sort of a Peace Corps of executives and entrepreneurs who volunteer their time and expertise. You can get free, confidential SCORE counseling on almost any given area of business, either online or in person.)
Anyway, the SCORE counselor gave my pal a great piece of advice: “Ask them what they want, then give them what they want.” Everything else beyond that, the counselor advised, is frosting.
My friend found it to be sound advice indeed, and ran his business on that one principle for many years. He consistently polled his clients about his business, learning what they liked about his services, and what they didn’t like. He changed his practice accordingly. In fact, pleasing them became his vision. His word of mouth advertising, not surprisingly, was through the roof. Sure it was a pain in the neck sometimes, and yes, it cost him money too, but in the end he created a very successful business around this very simple principle.
Potential customers choose a business for a variety of reasons – price, convenience, capabilities – you name it. But potential customers usually become long-term, loyal customers for other reasons. They stick around because they like you, believe in you, and like your business (and yes, they like your prices and products too.)
If you want to be in the game for the long haul, yes, you need to adapt and adopt new strategies, but don’t forget to keep your eye on the ball. Remember why you started your business in the first place and consider just what it is that people want and expect from you.
Give them what they want.