When you started your business, did you do it to feed your ego or to use your passion? Before you answer that question, let me tell you a story about one business owner who incorrectly thought he knew the answer.
In the restoration business, we live on the road and I find myself more often than ever stopping off at coffee shops during the day to get work done. Last week, I found myself in a shop I’d never been to when the owner asked me what I did for work.
When he heard about my background in marketing, he started to ask me some questions he’d had about his brand. He had made a decision to sell the same dark roast year round despite the growing “Third Wave” trend in coffee where newer brands are more focused on lighter roasts and pulling out different tasting notes like citrus, berries, and chocolate instead of the bitter coffee taste that most of us associate with coffee.The owner shared with me that he didn’t want to be a part of Third Wave Coffee. He wanted his coffee to taste like coffee and nothing else. The coffee tasted exactly like he intended. There was just one problem:His coffee shop was empty (except for me).I’ve worked with and consulted hundreds of business owners and see this story all the time: a man will start a business for the same reason that a middle aged man may buy a fast convertible or a big truck: they want recognition. That comes with a cost (sometimes fewer customers) but it oftentimes pays the reward they were looking for (Ego). He had a coffee shop he was proud of (which fed his ego and gave him self worth) even though he hadn’t made a lot of money doing it.The alternative to an Ego Business is a Passion Business. These businesses aspire to create something revolutionary with a servant’s heart and try to give their customers something incredible. These fail all the time when their vision is too singular to catch on with others. They can also grow exponentially and become iconic.While it’s beyond cliche at this point to admire brands like Apple, it’s easy to forget the years they were on the brink of failure. We forgive the Apple Newton and celebrate the iPhone.Steve Jobs was known as a revolutionary who preached:
Developing this kind of passion and proximity to your customers is not easy, but in my experience, that’s what fills coffee shops and makes the Restoration Owner’s phone ring.
Today, I want to close this post by posing three questions to brainstorm with your staff (or your one man army if you’re doing it alone):
- Who are your customers, really?
- How can you get closer to them?
- What are their expressed and unexpressed needs?
Whether you have are Ego driven or Passion driven, mastering your business by understanding your clients will only serve to make them happier and you clearer in your objectives.