I have been pondering these questions: What turns people into customers? How do we get to ask people what they want if we don’t know them in the first place? How do we match our skills, what’s needed in the market and what people want to buy to be considered ‘in business’. Businesses fail often out of a misunderstanding of what customers want and trying to enforce a product or a service that serves no value in your chosen market. So how do we combat this to avoid a business that is only useful to aliens in outer space? Who even knows what an alien wants. The notion is a separatist one, one isolated by differing world views and location. Let this not be me.
I think a good place to start is where you live, your proximity. Your relation to where you are right now to what is required around you. Go outside and take a walk around your community. Venture into the local small businesses like Coffee shops and Superettes, build relationships with the people who own these shops. Ask them about their business. Go to the local library, enquire about information regarding the community. Activities that are taking place that is pinned on the community board. Join the neighbourhood watch and volunteer to serve in local projects. To get business? No, to get plugged in. To use your senses. To look at what is going on around you and to listen to what people are saying. Read the local newspaper. Like that page on Facebook that offers information about your surroundings. Get to know people you wouldn’t normally “hang out” with.
Begin to ask questions. Engage with people on blogs and online forums about the subject of business you are interested in. Begin to gather information and compile a body of research to which you can refer to when needed. Be careful with this, actually use the information gathered to think of a service or product that can serve people and provide real benefit to them. Otherwise, it turns into a self-promoting exercise that only you get enriched by. This is seeking to build in isolation and propping up a footstool on the backs of unsuspecting hardworking people. Learn from them to serve them better and then instead of amassing wealth for yourself, invest back into your community by improving skills of the less fortunate, creating safer environments for families, creating further employment opportunities.
Getting to know your neighbours is the point of this exercise. People do business with people they know and trust, with people they like. Become someone people can get to know and trust. This means becoming a friend. A genuine caring friend. This means having no hidden agendas about profit-making, but a mutually beneficial partnership. Be transparent and honest about intentions. Express a desire to improve yourself and improving your community and enlist ‘helpers’. Yes, an entrepreneur goes into business with the idea of making a profit from a proposed venture. However, I think a different approach is warranted. What if an entrepreneur goes into business not only to make a profit for themselves but with the goal of enriching lives around them too. To build networks of new entrepreneurs who have been inspired and trained up by your work in their community. Providing instant support for businesses through trusted relationships. We build our network by adopting an inclusive mindset. Instead of an exclusive club for the elite, a club that aims to hoard riches and further marginalize those in need.
Who do we sell to? We sell to people we know. We sell to friends and family, people we care about. What’s great about this kind of thinking is that when we sell to people we care about, we care about what we choose to sell to them. Quality service or product. We take their investment in us seriously, we are grateful for it too. We want to keep them happy and have them come back to buy from us repeatedly. They, in turn, are satisfied by the product or service we provide as it makes a notable difference in their lives. They tell other people about us too and how happy we make them. Other people even strangers come to buy from us as a result and we take pride in this process. Now we are ‘in business’.
"The purpose of a business is to create a customer who creates customers" Shiv Singh
We buy from people we like. In your community is there a service provider like this? Someone you like? How do they make you feel as a customer? Why would you go back?
Ways in which we can build a network:
- Get plugged into your surroundings/your community
- Keep your eyes and your ears open/ observe what is around you and listen to what people say and the advice they offer
- Be genuine about reasons for connecting with people
- Don’t be self-serving, but seek to build up your community too
- Get to know people outside of your usual circle
- Make new friends
- Pioneer, facilitate and manage lines of proposed business
" All of your customers are partners in your mission" Shep Hyken
We cannot do business in isolation, every step requires 1 or many to be involved. So let aliens do what they do best, be elusive. As for the real people on earth, do business where other people with a real need for your business exist.
Until tomorrow, dear Diary.
p.s I don’t really believe in aliens 😉