CanadaOne Twitter CanadaOne Linkedin CanadaOne Facebook CanadaONe RSS


Inventor, Innovator And Entrepreneur Success Secret #2: It's All About 'Them'

By James Laughren |

That's right, it's about "them", "they", "those", and "the others". It's never about "you" or "yours". Therein lies the difference between being in business and being successful in business. Who you're focused on is an almost certain predictor of how well you will do.

I speak with inventors and innovators every day who can't understand why their new product isn't a roaring success. They're convinced that it's the greatest development in the XYZ industry since a) sliced bread, b) rubber tires or c) folding wallets - take your pick. Although they never once surveyed the market before launching their product, they were smart, and just KNEW that everyone would want one.

Just think of all that "me, me, me" attitude you run into every day, in companies of all shapes and sizes, and how that attitude almost always weakens the organization displaying it. It doesn't matter if it's a webmaster who designs a site the way he or she likes it - without regard to the interests or intuition of visitors; or a network marketing company whose payout structure heavily favors the established upline - why worry about the longevity of the downline as long as the founders get rich; or an inventor who spends too much time and money on a product that no one wants. Be it ignorance, arrogance or greed, the result of focusing on yourself instead of on your customer is ultimately the same... a slow decline to failure.

My wife and I recently went to a local restaurant for dinner. We arrived a bit late, about 10:15 p.m., but were assured by the hostess that the restaurant always stayed open until at least 11:30. Everything started just fine. The menu was interesting, our salads were crisp and fresh, the house dressing delicious and the service prompt and friendly. We ordered a good bottle of wine and then within minutes our entrees arrived. Delicious! This would certainly be a place we would return to - and recommend to friends.

As I poured us each a second glass of wine, three men emerged from the kitchen and began stacking chairs onto tables on the far side of the dining room. We didn't think too much of this at first, but they continued until half the room was cleared. There were three other couples still in the restaurant and at that point it wasn't even 10:45.

The three continued, moving closer to us and making a great deal of noise. Then one of the men went back to the far side of the restaurant and began rolling the carpet up. Within minutes the ambiance of the room was completely destroyed. We had gone from having a lovely dinner in a relaxed and comfortable restaurant to eating in a noisy work area surrounded by stacked tables and chairs.

I called to one of the men and asked what was going on. "We've got carpet layers coming in as soon as we close."

"That's fine," I said, "but you don't close for 45 minutes. How are we supposed to enjoy our dinner in this mess?"

"I don't know, but we have to get this done," he replied.

This guy wasn't getting the point so I asked to speak to the manager.

"Manager? I'm the owner," he said.

"Well then, what are you doing? We came in here for a nice meal. Don't you care what kind of dining experience people have here? How are we supposed to enjoy our food while you're tearing the place apart around us?"

"This is ridiculous," said a woman at one of the other tables. "I feel like I'm eating in a warehouse."

"Look," said the owner, "I want everything ready for the carpet people as soon as we close. Otherwise I have to pay these guys overtime for staying late to move the tables."

Everyone in the dining room was incredulous. Here was a business owner totally focused on "ME". He was so unconscious that it was actually comical. I even made a half-hearted attempt to explain to him that he was about to lose almost a dozen customers, probably forever, so he could save paying a half hour of overtime to two busboys.

He was adamant. He was an idiot. He was only interested in what was convenient or beneficial to himself. He had no true concern for his customers whatsoever. He didn't even understand what business he was in.

Needless to say, all of us left. We paid for our meals (he wasn't smart enough to comp our dinners), took our food home in doggie bags, and overall, had a horrible dining experience. Since then, we've made a point of telling our friends what a rotten place that restaurant with the new carpet really is.

Unfortunately, experiences like this are all too common. There's nothing unusual about interacting with a business that's more concerned with their own arbitrary policies or procedures than they are with providing value to their customers. And the amazing thing is that it's often so easy to do things the right way - the way that creates positive synergy between client and company - the way that builds long term loyalty and generates all-important word of mouth referrals.

If you're looking for business success, whatever your business, find out first what your customers want. Don't impose what you mistakenly think is in your best interest on them; don't suppose that you know what they want without asking them. It's really very simple. Just ask. They'll be happy to tell you what they're looking for, whether it's a service you provide or a product that you're designing.

And if you are an inventor, and would like to develop a product that the market will receive with enthusiasm rather than indifference, be sure to design your product for them, and not for yourself. So many rookie inventors completely overlook the importance of good market research. In fact, you should query your market long before you finalize your product design. There's no point in trying to sell a one-handled wheelbarrow - just because you think it's a great idea - when the market would gladly tell you that they need one with two handles, if only you had asked.

Survey your intended market. Ask for opinions on your preliminary plans. Question the people who count - your future customers - and find out what they think. After all, it's THEIR dollars you're after. If you want to get those dollars you'll have to provide a product or service that THEY think has value. This is one place where, if you're really smart, you'll realize that your opinion just doesn't matter.

Canadian, Eh!

For over 15 years CanadaOne has helped Canadian businesses start-up and grow. All of the content on our site is created to help busineses get Canadian answers!

Featured Member

MemberZone. Get in the zone! Join Today!

CanadaOne Recommends

Bullies in the Boardroom: Covering the Legal Bases

Should I Start My Own Company?

Conversations with Entrepreneurs: Billy Blanks

Avoiding Legal Perils: Critical Insights into Canadian Franchise Law

Starting a Business: Choosing a Year-End


Article Tags