Don’t Lose Sight of The Customer — Or Yourself

At the first, second, and third look, a business is in it to make money.
If it’s not making money,  then it’s an exercise in frustration and a money-sucking black hole at worst, and an expensive ‘hobby’ at best. A business provides services or products to consumers in return for money. Electronic commerce (e-commerce) is the business of selling goods and providing services using an online platform, i.e the internet. That’s why you’re here.

So yes, you got into this wanting to make money . And somehow you are making money.  After keeping good records and getting updated licenses and permits and whatnot, how do you do? Do you lie awake at night worrying about how to make your mailing list grow? Do you wake up worried about making your bottom-line? Is your free time occupied with scribbling out plans with words like leverage, maximize, sales funnel, and  optimize?

When this kind of financial pressure makes you micro-focus on the numbers, you lose sight of several important things in the whole equation.
Yes, you do need to keep good records and updated permits and licenses and whatnot.
Yes, you do need to work on growing your mailing list. That’s all just good accounting and legal practice, and business sense.
But focusing on the bottom-line frames your business solely in terms of numbers. In doing so, that sort of gently moves out of focus the prime movers in the business.  And who are those? You, for one, and your customers, for another. Lose sight of either, you  can go off track.

Focusing solely on the point to get the money is missing the other points.

Where are you?
Look at it this way: If you want to talk about money-making strategies, you have to think of the time-frame you’re considering. Are we talking short-term, medium-term, or long-term? You define your time-line.

You line up some ideas. You come up with ways and means, strategies and tactics in a reasonable pattern, you set up tests — and then what?

Follow through for the logical  conclusion: For example, how do you get more money? Offering one-off deals are usually scaled tactics — maybe hold massive one-time sales, maybe present seasonal ones, or hold deals depending on membership ‘anniversaries’. What about repeating customers? Which is better in the long run?

Well, what are your goals for the long and the short run? One-offs, sales, discounts, bundles… all of them have their place and time — but go back to the last question and tweak it: What is better in the long run?

This shift the focus onto you. What is better in the long run for you? What do you want of the business aside from the money? (Yes, we’re moving that a little off to one side now.)

Entrepreneurs go into enterprises. They work at a business for themselves. Sure, you can work eight times harder for yourself than when you were an employee, but you started a business, made a business, grew a business, because why?
Freedom and control.
Carrying over an employee mentality to entrepreneurial practice will cause dissonance. “I have a job, I go in, do the work, I get paid.” But that can’t be all that an entrepreneur focuses on.

Business planning is a necessary skill to possess and refine. Good plans are logical and reasonable; they help clear the vision and can point you towards your goals using the most reliable methods, ways that work together in alignment with your values and your goals. Tests can show you what doesn’t work out. But ultimately all your attempts, projects and tests, successful or not, must contribute to bringing you and your business forward.

That is where the “building something of value” starts and ends — the things you choose to do must bring you forward, and focusing solely on money reduces the business to one line — leaving you and the customer out of it. If a business focuses solely on the money, what do you think happens?

Go ahead. Think of the scandals that broke out and the tainted reputations that resulted when companies put money above everything else. A money-focused business culture in any enterprise has a way of revealing itself, one way or another, in reputation and effect, inside and outside the business. And then what? And all to what ends?

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Would you want to rely on a fly-by-night op, a money-grubbing opportunist, or a trustworthy, reputable business?

Monetization is important. You go into business to make an income from what you want to do, so being profitable is important.  Putting too much emphasis on tracking income, to the detriment of other important factors in the business, can make for a mismatch in that your one-track mind can get you somewhere, but is it the direction you want for yourself and your business?

Scarcity effect – “How can I make money today?”
Generosity mindset -“How can I help my customers today and tomorrow?”

Backtracking to responsiveness: responsiveness comes from actions taken to get responses. While you are building up your income stream by doing certain things like building your email list, publishing blog posts, working on your products, dealing with customer service, those actions are also laying foundations for the relationship you’re building with the people in your market.

You focus too much on the money, it narrows down your vision. You focus on the relationship, you get  to the money too, only it’s not as harsh and  unforgiving a tally as how many dollars and cents you didn’t make today.

You focus on your customers, you work on getting them solid results with your products, you roll that momentum over to better prospects in the future. Focusing on the not-as-urgent and important — maintaining a good relationship with your customers– doesn’t take away from the focus on making money (urgent and important) to keep your business running.

Where are your customers?
See, you can’t sell anything to people who aren’t there. You have to find your market. You need to find your audience, the people who are  not only willing to listen to what you have to say, but eager for and need the information you have to help them help themselves.  And, they’re willing to buy what you have to sell. Without that, you got nothing.

“How can I can make money today?”  Underpin it towards the long goal, and then coming up with ideas isn’t so pressured and sort of desperate.

“How can I help the people in my market today?” Ask.
Look at the wordplay and think of what comes to mind: Engagement. Engage, Engaging.
You can make polls, question your best source for ideas on what they need, what to improve, what to think of for the future. It’s mental crowd-sourcing at its best. And when you do make good changes, you have actual results to prove you were listening to what they said. Responsiveness and resonance are key to flourishing in these demanding times. What is better in the long run for your customers?

Behind the scenes?
Learn about your demographic.
On your website, look at the most visited links, look at the most common search expressions used, look at where your visitors come from and what they look for and how they look for it, look at the most used keywords used to get to you.

And honestly, if you find yourself worrying excessively about the financial aspects, you should consider several things: Is your worry well-founded, or is it nerves? How good are your efforts? How good are your results? Do you trust your team? Do you trust your customers? Do you trust yourself?

Take a good, calm look at how your business and finances are operating.  Worrying is bad for your health.  If your business is doing good and  the systems, the people, and the processes you put in place to run and support it are also reliable and healthy,  maybe it’s time you take a break and enjoy the life you were making a living for all along. Pull your nose away from the grindstone. Stop and smell the roses. Enjoy the freedom afforded by your responsibility. You earned that– and that is something that doesn’t show up anywhere near the bottom-line.

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