Stay hungry, stay foolish is the closing line of Steve Jobs famous speech to the graduating class of Stanford University. This was a powerful call to some of the brightest brains in the world to have an unquenchable thirst for learning and ambition to achieve more.
It is a call to everyone in business- entrepreneurs, managers and employees. We should be always learning, adapting to changes and innovating. This is the surest way to survival in a world that is forever fluid.
Those who ignore this call have short lifespan in business. They are excited by ideas that have no place in the market, fail to position themselves so as the winds of the market drive their businesses. Look at the world of technology today and you will see how some of yesterdays successes (like Nokia, Yahoo) are today’s strugglers while today’s successes are the guys you have never heard of at least in the area you know them to be great in today – example being Google’s Android in the Mobile Telephony.
One area that you need to keep on learning about is your customer’s needs. You cannot have enough knowledge about your customers needs.
Many people are in love with the wrong things in business. They are obsessed with their products, systems, processes, traditions, rules, policies and procedures. It is good to have all these but only when they don’t come into the way of satisfying customers’ needs. You should not have any emotional attachment to them; discard them, break them, change them if they don’t make your customers happier.
The only thing, idea or person worth being emotionally attached to in business is your customer and his needs.
If you really loved someone you would be obsessed with getting to know him, what his highest needs are , how they prefer those needs satisfied, when they want those needs addressed. You will desire to know what irritates your love, what makes her uncomfortable, what are her fantasies.
You will break all rules to make your object of adoration happy: You will add variety to your offerings, you will adjust how you communicate to them, you will dress to please them, their convenience, their happiness your obsession, you will bend and break all rules to serve them, you may even change your business in a way you don’t like to please your lover. If you don’t do whatever matters to keep your lover, just know there will someone who would be happy to serve their needs and if he is not their now, he will surely come soon.
Someone once told me that if I ran their business it would shut down because I would be thinking about the customer rather than the profit. It was an intended criticism, I was happy of the sincere compliment. My belief is that if you gave the customer what he needs, the way he wants it, he will pay me handsomely since profit is my compensation for the value I give. The higher the value the better the cheque I get and the more the often I will get it.
It is said that Steve Jobs did not trust traditional market research to tell him what the customer needs were because he believed customers sometimes never knew what they wanted. Some considered this arrogant. But Jobs loved his customers so much that he would always be thinking on what are their deepest needs even if they were not be able to articulate them. He would spend his lonely moments try to imagine what that unspoken need was. That is why whatever he made every seemed to like it since it got the customers thinking- yes that is what I want. When you love someone you try to anticipate their unexpressed desires and when you surprise them with it they will truly feel loved. The surprises sometimes might not work but, if you seek to know your lover this will be the exception.
If you fall in love with your customers you will be surprised the places they can take you. At the end don’t be surprised if that is not the places that you first wanted to go but, you wont complain because of the profits you make and the fulfillment you get.
Don’t fear falling in love with your customers.