Thursday, 17 October 2013

Billy's First Law: The Myth of Self-Employment

The Myth of Self-Employment

You’ve got to serve somebody.

Bob Dylan

There is no such thing as self-employment.  You may have to write your own paycheck and you might not make minimum wage, but everybody works for the customer!  In the years I have worked in the field of entrepreneurship, I have noticed that the reasons that people want to start a business are usually self-centered.  They want to make a lot of money they, want to have independence; they don’t want to take any crap from an anally retentive boss.  What ever it is, most people think of a business start-up from their own point of view.

Nobody out there cares about your former boss – your desire for self actualization or your need to have more quality time with your two cats.  Customers care about themselves.  Last time you made a purchase, did you think about how you are helping the business owner fulfil their dreams?  As I type this on Microsoft Word (which I actually purchased by the way) did I stop for a minute to think about how Bill Gates made a few more dollars?  Of course not.  I wanted good software to do word processing, presentations and spreadsheets.  Until that is actually available, I will use Microsoft Office. 

To paraphrase Bill Clinton “It’s the customer stupid!” What do customers want – or what will customers want. They either already know they want what you have to offer or you have anticipated what they will want in the future.

When you think in terms of starting a business, think in terms of they ways you can help customers.  It might be what they buy-- how they buy -- or where they buy. Everything depends on your ability to make enough customers happy to allow your business to succeed. 

I was doing an entrepreneurship workshop and doing my usual rant about the customer when one of the participants burst out in frustration, “You make it sound like we aren’t even starting this business for ourselves.”   “That’s right.” I said, “You start it for your customers!”
This week’s quote is from Theodore Levitt of the Harvard School of Business.

The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.  

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