started my business on a whim as I was working (unhappily) two jobs, putting in 16 hour days, 6 days a week. My main driving force wasn’t so much working for myself, it was more to look like a professional. It’s no exaggeration when I say I barely knew anything about business strategy. Believe it or not, they don’t teach you so much of those specifics when you study business in college. I really had no intention of owning a company. Simply, I was deeply passionate about creating, and decided I may as well make a small profit in the process. Business was a learning curve I didn’t see coming. I learned the art of it by falling on my face and picking myself back up again – over, and over again. The journey of business is usually far less glamorous than we anticipate. It’s small steps forward and certainly some backward.
If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it’s this: Business is the art of treating people well.
This was true a hundred years ago and is truer than ever today. Why?
When somebody distills business to “pull this lever and follow that marketing tactic”, we lose its human element. A business strategy for success rests on deeply understanding the people they serve, specifically the target client. When this key part is glossed over (it often is), a disconnect forms between a brand and their target market. We must care so deeply about the people we serve that we understand them often better than they even understand themselves. We can’t fulfill the unspoken desires and needs of a customer we don’t fully know.
The heart of a strong business is rooted in making a difference versus simply being different. Standing apart from the competition used to mean boasting qualities that made us better, faster, stronger, or more unique. But with so many competing brands selling great products today, “uniqueness” has lost its sustainability. Great products may catch a customer’s eye, but it takes something more to engage their attention and build a relationship. Solely being different no longer works. Instead, people are looking to experience something that will make a difference in their lives; something they truly care about and want to be a part of.
We have all heard over and over that communication is critical for happy relationships. The same goes for a business. Communication in the right way, at the right time, using the right words creates clarity. It should be easy to understand, engaging, and have an undertone of empathy. Most importantly, good communication connects with people on a personal level.
People are complicated – all of us. The more we are able to read between the lines and discern what a person needs, the more we will receive love and respect. What is their deep down fear or need? People rarely make a buying decision based on the actual product. Instead, they look at how it makes them feel and the brand promise that comes with the purchase. Kind of like how we will pay triple the cost and wait in line for a Starbucks coffee when we could go through the McDonalds drive thru and essentially get the same product – coffee. One feels so different than the other, right?
The world around us is changing so fast. It’s both exciting and a challenge! A business must be always aware of what the world around them does and needs. We have to adapt and be willing to let go of what worked so well yesterday to remain innovative and relevant today, tomorrow, and next year. It starts by getting out of our daily details and observing the big, beautiful world around us.
Maya Angelou once said this timeless quote, speaking so much truth about success:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
In conclusion, always remember: “People do not buy services, they buy relations, stories, and magic.”
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