Testimonial letter from Henry Scadding (1883) (Photo credit: Toronto Public Library Special Collections)
One of the factors of any entrepreneur starting a business is getting testimonials, those comments from customers that tell others of the value of your work.
What most budding entrepreneurs do not understand is that the relationship between both business and their customer and vendors is essential, and missing this vital aspect of building a business becomes missed opportunities for future business and growth.
Too often budding entrepreneurs act like sponges, willing to take as much free stuff as possible with little to give back or share. One of the simplest acts to get noticed for your business is….
A few years ago I found a comment by a millionaire that at first I thought was a great idea, how do you define what a CEO is and does?
Not a bad question, right? Especially when it comes to being a startup.
Normally the CEO moniker, Chief Executive Officer, used in big Fortune 500 companies and even some startups that want the same prestige might work, but as a startup, it just doesn’t quite fit, do you see the same thing?
I have a friend that has a startup and she uses the CEO title on her business card and her web site. She’s a startup. But seeing it on her card it just sounds so old fashion and stuffy, as if “bestowed” by oneself for others to see how you want to project your image. But is that the true focus of a business? To make yourself look good?
Not so accurate.
So, here’s my attempt in our current business climate to get to the heart of what a business CEO title is about.
I can’t make this up, but it’s gold to entrepreneurs. A quick way to test out an idea from an objective source over coffee.
Snooty Monkey’s The $20 Starbucks Test.
I loved the idea.
What do you think?
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As with any startup entrepreneur you start out with lots of hopes and dreams. And along the way, you expect both good and bad with the hope that there is more good than bad.
The guiding principle for any startup entrepreneur is to spend as little money as possible while accomplishing your goals. It’s about being a good steward of your financial and other resources.It’s about making sure that you’re making money first instead of just spending it.
Here is my short list of both.
I recently had my BEST enchantment encounter with none other than the man himself, Guy Kawasaki. It all started with a story he wrote in MacUser magazine in the 1990s. Fast forward to a few years ago as I began writing my book and the story so kept with me that I wrote the story that Guy wrote about in my book. Here is what I put in my book on page 239:
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Having worked for many organizations and have now become a startup entrepreneur, today’s business mantra is that all organizations need to change, and more importantly, that change needs to accelerate.
If you don’t speed up, you’ll be “run over” by those that were behind you that are moving faster than you are or you’ll get left in the dust of those that you were following.
If you don’t speed up, you’re basically “done for.”
However, all speed and no direction is cause for concern, so there’s a problem with this need for speed when you hit the sound barrier.
When most people think of the sound barrier, they are reminded of Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier in the X-1 aircraft on October 14, 1947. But I’m referring to different sound barrier, especially when it comes to business, the barrier I’m referring to is the barrier of sound judgment.
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When it comes to startup entrepreneurs, one of the key factors of getting started is the key word: Focus. What should they focus on to get them going?
Have you heard of the comment, “What you focus on is what you get!” It’s true. The same thing goes for seeing a glass half empty or half full. If all you see is obstacles and not your vision of accomplishing something it is demotivating. But even if you focus on the positive, what do you focus on?
I once was working a job at a small retail company and the Regional Director was visiting and “motivating” us by stating, “Focus, focus, focus!” But of course, most of the people took that and ran “fast” with what they saw, but each in their own direction with activities that, while helpful to the business, were actually NOT the right priorities for the business. Her leadership skills were fear based and while they were “detailed,” her motivation did not embrace what the priority of the organization’s goals were. It was a scattered view of “getting it all done and fast,” it intentionally “blurred” everyone’s focus costing the company time, money and resources.
So, as any startup entrepreneur, here’s a short list of what to focus on:
- Product – putting in all of the features necessary and getting the product out the door.
- Competition – seeing what your competition is doing and not letting them out of your sight and ensuring you’re better than they are.
- Ideal Customer – what are your customer’s needs and wants.
So, what do you think a startup should focus on?
Here’s the wrong answers:
- Product – focusing solely on your product and building the most complete and perfect Swiss Army knife for your ideal customer takes time and resources, and maybe no one will want it. Therefore, you’ve wasted your resources and reduces your profit potential.
- Competition – if you focus on what your competition is doing even THEY can miss the boat of what a customer wants and needs. If they’re heading down the wrong path, they just get there sooner than you do. Don’t chase your competition’s bunny trial which may lead to a dead end.
These are the correct answers in the correct order of priority:
- Focus on your ideal customer’s needs and wants, it is here that you spend your time and effort so that they are willing to give you their money for your solutions.
- Product – when you focus on your ideal customer and their needs and wants your product becomes the result of that time and effort.
- Competition – while focusing on your customer’s needs and wants you’ll then focus on your product and services, but you need to keep your competition in your peripheral vision, not completely out of sight, but still in view and not your main focus.
A focused priority will keep you moving ahead in the right direction.
You know, setting expectations with customers is your first order of business as a startup entrepreneur. But often, things get out of whack that are either in or out of your control. From the customer’s standpoint, many don’t care and may leave. Others may understand, but only if you show that you’re human and willing to make amends.
Here is at the blog site Open Forum an article How to Apologize to Customers and Have Them Love You More offers great advice to help mend fences with a customer.
Most important for any startup entrepreneur: To learn what went wrong and where and remember it and figure out how to prevent it in the future. Prevention of a problem is FAR cheaper than fixing one.