As an entrepreneur, what do you focus on? Do you consider mostly what you will get (profit), or what you will give (value)?
If we’re all honest, the truth is that most of us probably focus somewhere in the middle. Few people become entrepreneurs purely for the good of humankind, and few people can find the necessary drive to manage a successful and influential business if they don’t believe that they’re bringing something fresh and exciting to people who need it.
So, if ultimately, entrepreneurs need to balance their desire for profit and value, how do they make sure that they’re finding the right balance?
Listen to your customers
If you’re not providing your customers with value, they’re going to let you know. What mechanisms do you have in place for your customers to provide you with honest, critical feedback? Do you:
- Accept comments on your Facebook page or other social media?
- Do you have someone dedicated to responding to comments or questions quickly? Have they been trained to de-escalate situations specifically? Are they empowered to “make it right” with the customer?
- Are you comfortable with the ins and outs of responding to positive and negative feedback in a public forum?
Examine your messaging
When you communicate to your customers, are you showing them what value they will find in your product? Does your ad copy, content, and web design make the value of your product or service very clear? Remember these keys of content marketing:
- Start with what you offer, not who you are. If people don’t know what services you offer, they don’t care how long you’ve been in business.
- Show the problems you’ll solve before you talk about how well you’ll solve them. Frustrating websites talk about talented teams that have been working together for a decade without ever telling you what the team does.
- Consider whether your team is available throughout the lifecycle of your service. Do you sell hard, and then disappear once the customer has made their purchase, or do you follow up after a week or so to find out how they’re doing and if they have any questions?
Find your audience
Your messaging can be fantastic, but if it doesn’t reach your audience, then it’s not going to help. Are you:
- Expecting your audience to come to you, or are you reaching out to them where they are through social media, bulletin boards, local interest groups, or email newsletters?
- Offering content that will engage and interest your audience, showing them that you have something to offer?
- Placing ads on relevant interest pages so that you’re narrowly targeting your ideal customer instead of the elusive “everyone”?
Make a profit
It’s irrational to expect to be an entrepreneur and do nothing but give. You can offer the most amazing service and the best possible product, but if you don’t sell it to anyone, is it really helping? If you want to run a non-profit, do that, but if you want to be an entrepreneur, running a business is your goal, and you should do it well. Remember:
- To evaluate your profit and loss as well as your cash flow to make sure that you’re making the right decisions for your business
- Be clear about your intent to your customers. Don’t market yourself like you’re a non-profit when you’re actually a for-profit business. Your customers will figure it out, and you’ll lose their trust
- Don’t be ashamed of running your business like a business. Many of the great innovations in our society were created by business people who were striving to create a better, more efficient, better developed marketplace.
Something has happened in American society over the past decade where the concepts of charity and business have become more sharply separated than ever. Entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Bill Gates have challenged this perception as they’ve used their businesses to drive innovation and interest in new technologies. As an entrepreneur, you will almost certainly find that you need to balance the quest for creating value with the need to generate profit. Your job, if you want to be a successful entrepreneur over the long term, is to do both at once, and in a way that your customers can understand and empathize with.