Attention Entrepreneurs: The customers are your boss

At 16, I worked in retail for a gentleman who helped greatly shape my views on customer service.  My first day at work he said to me “Details, details details, pay attention to details”.  He then wanted me to fully understand that he was not my boss, but that every customer that walked through the door, whether or not they purchased was my boss, and that my paycheck came directly from them.

That’s something I have never forgotten.  As entrepreneurs, its important for us to remember this and more importantly to act accordingly.  At the end of the day we are providing a product or service for which we expect to receive financial compensation.  Do that well and you will attract customers.  Treat such customers as if they’re your boss, listen to them and they’ll pay you, again and again and again.

I repeat “the customers are your boss…”.  What’s the oldest lesson in business that you’ve had stuck with you ?

8 Steps to Apologizing to your customers

“I sipped my tea, hit send, and walked away…”

 

We have a notification service that alerts users based upon a preset criteria.  I woke up at my usual 5am and quickly noticed my company sent out an email to a subset of users notifying them of a situation they were in that was false.  If this was a few years ago, I would probably have freaked out and focused on how could this happen and dwell on the fact that I made a mistake.  Thanks to my many bumps and bruises over the years, I handled the situation a bit differently this time.  Below are the steps that I took:

 

  1. Remained Calm -  The only thing worse than making a mistake is compounding it by making another due to not thinking clearly.  It also helps that I tell myself it could be worse (Snapchat hacked).
  2. Assessed the situation – Checked the logs to see what caused the problem, and how many of our users were affected.
  3. Stopped the bleeding – Discovered the root of the problem and patched it up.
  4. Draft a public apology – I personalized it, took responsibility, made no excuses, told them the issue was resolved and reminded them of our how important they are (not their business) is to us.
  5. Stepped away – a reinforcement of step # 1.  Find something relaxing to do before sending out the apology.  I made myself some tea.
  6. Send – I pressed send.
  7. Point your finger – Not at the team, or yourself, but at the problem and discuss strategies and steps to avoid this happening in the future.
  8. Celebrate – Mistakes happen, and you’re running a business.  This means it will probably happen again.  What differentiates successful entrepreneurs is how we respond to the problem versus reacting to it.

Have you ever had to apologize to your customers ?  How did you handle it ?

 

“The most valuable skill of a successful entrepreneur …”

I saw this on tumblr and decided to share:

“The most valuable skill of a successful entrepreneur … isn’t “vision” or “passion” or a steadfast insistence on destroying every barrier between yourself and some prize you’re obsessed with. Rather, it’s the ability to adopt an unconventional approach to learning: an improvisational flexibility not merely about which route to take towards some predetermined objective, but also a willingness to change the destination itself. This is a flexibility that might be squelched by rigid focus on any one goal.”

 

– Unknown to me

Giving your baby the name it wants

Proper company names can be extremely powerful as they have the ability to instantly convey a message of what your company does on their own.  A client of mine submitted on a piece of napkin potential names for their startup, and all included the spelling of his last name.  I gave him the task of coming up with a few other options that perhaps could represent or symbolize what the company does.

The point of the exercise wasn’t to suggest you can’t be successful using your name, ie Donald Trump, or the name has to represent what you do i.e. Apple.  It was instead to get him to think about the fact that as an entrepreneur, its not about you, it’s about your users.

Whether it be the name, product or service, the decisions you make in your business should reflect what your audience value and how you are satisfying their needs.  It’s much easier to get someone to pay you if you’re giving them what they want vs having to first convince them.

Coming up with names for my businesses was a long process, and I won’t even get started on domain names.  What was your naming experience like ?

Start, the best advice for a budding entrepreneur

As a kid I was always taking things apart curious to see how they work.  I saw the world in solutions as oppose to problems and quickly knew I wanted to fix things.  I come from a family of entrepreneurs and the best piece of advice I ever got was simply the word “START”.  It wasn’t until my 20′s that I truly understood what my father meant.

As a developer, I meet individuals everyday that say to me “Oh you’re an app developer, I have an idea”.  When asked what have they done with the idea so far, 9 out of 10 times, the answer is nothing.  If you have an idea or something you want done, no matter what it is just START.  To START means that everyday you make sure you’re a bit farther than you were the day before.  It could be one step or it could be twenty, the distance is not so important at this point.  Write the idea down, ask a friend what they think, ask a stranger, the point is do something with it.  Take it to that next level.

So what’s your idea ?