When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.
Going to bed at night with a clear conscious is one of the most valuable things any human being can have in his life. It’s something I think we all aspire to, whether we are aware of it or not. With the chaos of the global economic crises of the past couple years, and some of our largest, most respected institutions going under for dishonesty, greed, and fraud – people are more wary and cautious about who they trust with their money.
As the trend to going back to old-fashioned business values grows, so does the big picture in how we all need to rethink the foundation of our businesses. In my last post I reviewed the sheer sensibility in developing and practicing impeccable customer service. The root of customer service is good business, period. And contrary to common belief, it is possible to make money entirely ethically. With this return to old-fashioned values, it may even be a “make it or break it” factor in the success of your business.
Some things to consider:
- Begin with a quality product – a repeat customer is your best customer. If you don’t deliver the best product or service, it doesn’t matter how much you sell. Your business won’t last long. The raw goods of your business is the foundation of your business. Aspiring to be the best will increase your business quickly. A shoddy product will lose you business quickly. It’s as simple as that. I LOVE this article by leading Internet Marketer and all around decent online champion Joel Comm which expands on my point but is specifically focused on the infamous Long Form Sales Letter and the people currently using it online.
- The internet – we all know how rapidly the world has changed because of it. Businesses now rely, sometimes exclusively, on the internet. Your customer base relies, sometimes exclusively, on the internet, too. They can and do research products and services. They can find the very best prices and learn about all the features, quality, etc, much more easily than before. And they can easily find out about YOU! Have you ever tried Googling yourself to see what comes up? Or perhaps checking out Twitter Search to see what people are saying about you on Twitter or Technorati to see what bloggers are saying about you. There are even sites out there that exist solely to give you reviews like Consumer Reports for electronics or Guru Daq for gurus. One of my favourite examples (and a perfect one for this topic based on that many say it lacks morality) of someone who made a whole business off of people searching online for reviews and research about speakers is The Rich Jerk. This guy shot to success just by placing ads on google for people searching online for speakers and gurus. His ad would simply say – “Don’t buy anything from ________ until you read this!”. And then there would be nothing on his site about the speaker when you got there. It is a great example of the fact that you can build a business just based on people wanting more info about something. Providing the best products and the best service is one of the best ways to make you stand out from the crowd. And consider this – bad news spreads much more quickly than good news. Bad products, problematic service, anything negative could quickly get out onto the web and spread like wildfire. Tread lightly. Do your best.
- Don’t compromise on price – Value your products and services and demand the price you know you deserve. At the same time, don’t ask for more. Know your competition, and simply aim to do better. Recently I was in a meeting with an investor and I had to sell him on what I was worth. I did my research beforehand and asked for a price somewhere in the middle. Because I was newer at this particular project and still on a big learning curve I knew the middle would be right – not too greedy and not selling myself short. In the end he said to me that he was glad I asked for what I asked for because if it was higher he would have thought I was greedy and if it were lower he would have thought I did not know the industry well enough to ask for what the going rate was. Discounts no longer work – your customers often perceive discounts as a sign of an inferior product. We’ve become skeptical. People still pay top dollar for name brands because they know they’re getting the best. You will not see Coca Cola or Levi Jeans dropping their prices. Learn from this example and set the price based on your experience, expertise and comparing what else exists in the marketplace.
- Customer service – Again, being open, honest, and going that extra mile will give people a reason to trust you. Trust is the name of the game. Sure, it’s a caveat emptor world out there. Your customer base is being more careful than ever before. This means it might as well be a caveat venditor world after the economic crisis. You need to be as careful with your customers as your customers are being in choosing you.
I’m more than convinced that a return to good business ethics will become an essential factor of success. And after all, sleeping well at night is worth much more than money can buy. And goodness knows, you’ll probably be able to have this cake, and eat it too.