Many of us pay a BOMB to get admission into MBA Colleges – to learn the nuances of management. But many a times it is at totally unexpected places we acquire the business knowledge. I do have a sweet tooth and every weekend it is MUST for me to cave into the cravings. During one such visit to our local candy store I had conversation with one of the best Management Guru – the candy store owner!! The article illustrates 5 business lessons I learnt that day.
MANTRA 1: MOVE FIRST TO WIN FIRST!!
There is no advantage like a first mover advantage – if you are an entrepreneur, search for new avenues for growth – seeks out ideas which no one has yet tried. The logic is that you are not going to get it right the first time but because you are the only one there customers are less harsh on you.
The store I frequent was the first one opening up in our locality. I do remember initially it was just a small average candy store but it was the only one so was able to establish itself very quickly.
Imagine you had opened an online panel company 10-15 years ago – the competition was non-existent, you don’t have to go dirt cheap and more importantly there was so much market to be captured.
All the online panel players who started early are the ones who today have the maximum market share. Any new player in the business today would face an uphill task in terms of establishing themselves.
Now that many online panel players have opened up and you don’t have the first mover advantage – what to do?
I would suggest starting something within this domain which not many have started yet for e.g. a healthcare panel – I know many claims to have one but there are very few genuine pure panel players out there. You can probably build panels in a country where not many players are there – my bet is Philippines! – It has an English speaking population with a good internet penetration.
The idea is to start early so that you have enough time to experiment with. Success is an outcome of lots of trials & errors and starting early provides a cushion for the failures you are going to face.
MANTRA 2: BE REMARKABLE OR BE REPLACEABLE!!
Ask yourself – is your business REMARKABLE i.e. to be remarked about. If the answer is no – close your shutters. I have strongly believed that if you are not the top 5 players in any business – don’t do it!!
The candy store owner told me “if the customers are not talking about what good stuff is in my store – I am cooking a recipe for disaster because someone out there is definitely working hard to get my customers”.
We all talk about customer satisfaction but do we really care?? Deep down most of us want to earn quick bucks for ourselves. We are not doing much to be talked about, to be remarked about. The question is why your business needs to be REMARKABLE – one word – APPLE!!
Apple’s BIGGEST brand ambassadors are its product users – it has enabled the company to pile up USD 100 Billion dollars in cash. If you are happy with few bucks – good for you!
The next logical question which pops up is – How to be REMARKABLE??
It is in fact quiet simple – add value to your customers without obvious monetary benefits desired. Customers are going to REMARK about you only when you have done something selflessly for them. Imagine you visiting an automobile company and apart from the usual marketing stuffs you provide a valuable in-house research report on automotive industry – the positive impact of the gesture would be deep down.
MANTRA 3: BE DIFFERENT FROM THE CROWD!!
Recently many candy stores have opened up in our locality seeing the immense business potential. The candy store owner or the Guru I was seeking advice from taught me a very important business lesson – BE UNIQUE.
Apart from the usual factory made candies he has his own small unit making homemade candy bars which are customizable to the customer’s taste.
No other candy store does that!!
If you are offering the same types of online panels which 100 other players are – you would never ever have a loyal customer. The business coming to you would be depending upon factors not under your direct control – not a good scenario for your business!!
Being unique is not all that difficult on the contrary it is easy. If your total focus is just to make money (like all the other candy stores) you would end up providing services which is presumed to make you money – just like what the factory made candy sellers think.
But if you want to add value to your customers and bring smile on their faces – you would make homemade candies – which are more personal and tailor made.
The underlying issue is – are you in value business or money making business!!
MANTRA 4: LISTEN TO THE SILENCE!!
The candy store owner told me that the kids are the most difficult customers as they are not sure what exactly they want. But it is easy to identify their needs – just watch them closely. If they like a particular candy section they inadvertently are hovering around it. They may be asking for a completely different candy bar standing at a completely different section.
The trick is to look at their movements – the more a place they visit the more likely they want something from that section. To be able to do this the candy store owner has to carefully listen to the subtle signals emanating from his little customers.
In real business world we are so engrossed in telling about our products & services that we completely ignore what our clients are actually looking for. This is a fatal business mistake which most of the panel companies are doing.
Today when I look at LinkedIn groups I see many people literally SPAMMING about their service suite. I have yet to find an online panel company asking for “what your research needs are??”
MANTRA 5: YOU ARE IN THE SMILE BUSINESS!!
The most important lesson that I learnt from the candy store owner is that we are in the business of making life easier and happier for our customers. We may be selling candies or selling a car – the product is irrelevant – the important thing is that are we helping our customers??
Now you have a choice. You can comment, share, or implement. I prefer if you implement, but I’ll appreciate all three – Akshay Kanyal