As an entrepreneur, you are told to know your purpose. This thinking is not new, it’s been around for a very long time. In Jim Collin’s Good to Great, he makes you think about what you are most passionate about, what you could be the best at, and then about how to go about making money. While in his Entrepreneurship class at Stanford, he handed each of us a printed 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper which had the phrase “Know Your Purpose” printed in the center in large font. We were told to hang it in front of us in our desks at home, as a reminder. I think the more people pick this up as a habit, the better things can get, in all of life’s facets.
Depending on what you embark on in a life of purpose, you will have interactions with others. It may be with many, or with very few, depending on where in the public vs. ascetic spectrum your pursuits will land you. Regardless, I think the best you can do is always try to learn the most about each person you are directing your attention to, especially if you want their attention back. This is easier the lower the amount of people you interact with. If you serve a small community, this increase in the understanding by every member of it of the needs, wants, personalities, fears and aspirations of the others is what provides the glue that bonds them together. It happens within families, at the most elemental level. It grows into societies outwards from there.
If your purpose is to provide value as an entrepreneur with a product or a service to a large clientele, how do you get to know them? If you wish to grow this clientele even larger, or massively, does the impossibility to get to know each one of your clients negate the need to learn the most about them?
If bonding is the desired outcome of learning about each other, and if you have met people through your life that you really did not bond with, or want to bond with, especially after learning more about them, to what extent should you bond with your clients – who you may never meet personally?
The replacement tail light which I just bought on eBay and came accompanied with a handwritten note from the seller personally thanking me, created a better bond than receiving a used book I ordered before, that came without one. I will spend hours immersed in the book and will probably forget where I bought it once it hits my shelves. It took me 20 minutes to replace the tail light in the van, but it will be years if I ever forget that the seller sent me a personalized handwritten note scribbled with a thick black magic marker pen. In a recent Inc. Magazine article, founder Ryan Cohen explains how they adopted sending their customers holiday cards, and flowers when their animals passed away.
Find a market that is under served. Think outside the box. Think, for example, that being unappreciated is a way of being under served. Build a company with the purpose of serving this under served market that needs you, because you are the best for the task. Use all means available to get to know your customer as precisely as current technology and connectivity allows. Treat the company and protect it, and your customers, like you would your family. The value that you build will be lasting and a share of it will accrue to you.