Recently a friend of mine, who runs a small business, asked me what are the most important actions that one should take at the beginning of his journey as an entrepreneur.
He had no company, web site or office, but he believed that these are the must-do things in the beginning, because without them “you don’t have a business”. I had another opinion on that matter.
I told him, that in my view the most important thing for any business, whether it is at the beginning or already running and making money is to create a customer. If you have a customer, you have a business. If you don’t have a customer – you don’t have a business.
Business cards, office and web site don’t help that much in finding customers. If you don’t believe it, you better ask somebody who had recently established his own business with office and business cards, but has difficulties finding clients. And there are a lot of examples.
That’s why the main focus should be on something else.
When do you have a customer?
One of the greatest business thinkers Peter Drucker says, the business has only two purposes:
- To create a customer
- To keep it
Only these two things. Nothing else!
And a customer is the one who:
- Deliberately buys from you and chooses to buy from you over other options
- Believe and trust you
- Is eager to buy your new products when you launch them
- Recommends you to his friends
A customer is not someone you’ve just sell something to. Because somebody may just pass by your café and buy a coffee. Then he may never come back again. This person doesn’t associate you with someone that he has a connection with and will buy repeatedly from. You’ve just been in the right place at the right time to make a sale.
If you ask that person why he has bought from you, you will probably get the answer “I just wanted some coffee, when I passed by your café, so I bought one.” It’s likely that he doesn’t even remember the name of your café. If this person comes back someday, it will be a matter of chance. Deffinetely not because he deliberately wants to buy again from you.
It’s the same when you sell on eBay or another platform. People, who buy from you, usually don’t choose to buy because of you, but because they’ve just came across your listing. They buy and never come back. I can bet that most of them don’t even notice the name of your store. And when asked whom they bought from they will answer that they bought from eBay, Amazon and so on.
Of course, any business can make that kind of accidental sales, it’s part of the game. Moreover, there are many ways to transform accidental sales into customers. But this is not the topic of today’s article, so I’ll not go into it.
What you have to remember about the accidental sales is that they cannot be the main focus of your business, because then the business is doomed to failure in long run.
The main focus of your business should be to make a customer based that knows you and deliberately buys from you. This may be costly at first but it is the only long-term strategy that will pay off.
Why the business cards, web site and office are not so important
Now you know that a customer is someone, who deliberately buys from you.
Now let me ask you a question. Do you think that someone will buy from you just because your business cards are very good looking, your office is cozy and your web site is colorful?
If the answer is not “no”, it’s at least “unlikely”, because these things are not able to build the relationship that you need to create a customer. These things can help you to improve an existing connection. A customer may like your office if it is well decorated but you can’t create a customer solely on that basis.
The good side of this is that to create a customer is not that expensive, not that difficult and it could even be free. I will tell you more about it in the next article.
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All the best!