If you have an existing business, you’ll eventually want to grow it. After all, when you grow your business, you can make more profit. But people often confuse that mindset.
About a year ago, we received a call at our family business from someone who owns a laundry company. My family business supplies professional laundry equipment, and the person who called us needed a spare part.
My father said, “I’m visiting one of our clients tomorrow who’s close to you. I can’t make any promises, but I can stop by and see whether I can help.”
When he hung up the phone, my father said he knew exactly what the problem was, and that he was going to solve the problem for the person who called.
The following day, my dad stops by the person’s shop, looks at the machine, and says, “I’ll be right back.” He goes to his car, grabs a small electrical component, and hands it to the laundry owner.
“Here you go. This should solve your problem.”
The person is surprised, and says, “Wow, that’s amazing. What do I owe you?”
“Consider this as a service. We’re in business to help our customers, and in return, our customers buy all of their machinery and parts from us.”
Business is transactional and relational
This is an important lesson in business and persuasion. My father knew that the component was about 25 bucks when he talked to the laundry owner. He’s happy to give that away for free to demonstrate the value he can offer.
He also stresses that this is not really a gift. If you want to do business with us, we will do everything to solve your problems, and in return, you buy your products from us.
There’s no point in giving away free things for the sake of giving things away. That’s charity, which is obviously necessary in the world. But when it comes to business, there should be an expectation that we’re making transactions.
And also promise that we will keep making transactions as long as the service and products are great. That’s the relational aspect of a business. We do favors for each other.
I think this is the secret of business success and growth.
Ignore the tactics
Whether you’re a solopreneur, business owner, salesperson, or marketer, your primary job is to help your customer.
Your most important goal is not to increase traffic, boost conversions, run campaigns, make cold calls, send email blasts, redesign your website, or write catchy copy.
Those things are important, but without a customer, those things are useless. If you’re in business, your goal is to attract a customer, and then, keep the customer.
If you build your company like that, you will ensure you stay in business. This is the most important thing. Once you have a solid customer base who value your product/service and keep coming back, you can do everything else you want.
Some people have the ambition to grow their revenue and build a big team. If you have a customer base, go for it.
You often see companies that grow fast but are like a leaking bucket. They keep adding new customers and making new sales, but they are also losing existing customers. On a net basis, they might add more customers than they lose, but it’s a stressful way of operating a business.
That type of business is driven by growth at all costs. “We don’t care if people don’t like our products, just sell!!”
Doing business is very straightforward
When my dad and I started our business in 2011, I just got out of grad school. I was book-smart. I learned everything from books and case studies in the safe confines of a classroom. I had no idea how businesses operated in real life.
I can tell you from personal experience that real business is not like what you learn in business school.
In business school, we made SWOT analyses, used Porter’s 5 Forces, talked about the 6 P’s, did customer surveys analyzed with SPSS, and so forth. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, you’re not missing out on anything.
In my 12 years as an entrepreneur, building businesses that generate 7 figures of revenue, I haven’t used any of those techniques. Not once. No strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis, nothing.
Your customer certainly doesn’t.
- A business is simple: You have a product or service.
- There’s a customer who has a problem that you can solve.
- You find the customer and say, “Hey, here’s a solution.”
- You do business.
Of course, it’s not that simple. But that’s the idea. The most important thing is that you have a real product/service that solves a real problem. There are many fake problems in the world.
Fake problems are the problems no one wants to pay for. So you need to have something people are willing to pay for. Now, that’s something you can learn.
You can be smart about how you build a business. But you certainly don’t need a degree. You just need to have a roadmap.
And a customer, of course.