The 4 Essential Needs Every Customer Has

business

Are you looking for new ways to jump-start your business in 2016? Trying to figure out why you’re not getting the type of customer response to your product or service that you anticipated? Want to improve your operating systems to get better results?

I hope your answer is, “of course, I do!” Because improving your systems is something you should be doing constantly. Always looking for better ways to serve your clients, better ways to manage your money, better ways to develop employees as leaders, and so on, is one of the hallmarks of entrepreneurship, not to mention just smart business practice.

I suggest that there is one simple construct that will help you do all these things. It’s a mindset, a way of thinking about your business and your customers, that will permeate everything you do and, therefore, every experience your customer (and all your other stakeholders, for that matter) has.

Every customer–every person–has four distinct needs that they are either consciously or, more often, subconsciously seeking to have gratified at all times. These needs are visual, emotional, functional, and financial. In order to

Do startup names matter

business

startup-notepadStartup names may be a dime a dozen, but most founders still agonize over what to call their dream. Are they right to invest so much energy and time — or would any random string of letters be fine?

If anyone knows the answer, it’s Jonathan Nelson, who created the well-known startup incubator Hackers/Founders (aka H/F). A mainstay in the tech community, H/F spans 75 cities in 32 countries and throws events where entrepreneurs can network, hone pitches and gather advice. We asked Nelson for his thoughts.

Is naming a startup a big deal?

Founders spend a lot of time on it. It’s kind of like that question, “What do you name your band?” What if you name your band Mudhoney or Nickelback? It’s hard to change that name once you get a bit more popular, because the brand is so tightly tied to your name. You don’t hear of startups changing their name after they’re bigger so it tends to be something that people obsess about.

I think that there is a corollary between the names of hedge funds, startups and bands. I’ve been reading

How the next generation should innovate

business

“Economic development is of the people, by the people and for the people,” declared entrepreneur and economist Iqbal Quadir on the TED stage back in 2005. In his talk, he offered a bold vision for bottom-up development and shared a searing critique of foreign aid — that it actually does more harm than good. His own story of innovation in his native Bangladesh illustrated his vision for grassroots development: Grameenphone is a network of mobile phones for Bangladesh’s poor that increases productivity by increasing connectivity.

Eight years later, Quadir is still thinking deeply about development in the world’s poorest countries. Grameenphone has grown to become the largest phone provider in Bangladesh. And Quadir, now a professor at MIT, has turned his attention to training the next generation of grassroots entrepreneurs.

At the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT, which he founded in 2007, Quadir teaches bottom-up development to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to invent and distribute productive technologies in developing countries. “I’m trying to teach them how to create real businesses that will help mainstream folks, businesses that will be sustainable in serving ordinary people.

Four Reasons Your Business Needs IT Support

business

Computers and technology have expanded to the point where they play essential roles in just about every industry. For this reason, the need for professionals that are able to properly maintain and safeguard the computers used by businesses has risen exponentially.

Even with the fact that computers play an integral role in the success of modern businesses, many business owners are still not convinced that they need ongoing IT support. To prove that it is, here is a look at a few reasons why your business needs IT support.

Protection

The biggest reason that businesses today need to have IT support is because of the protection that it provides against potential cyber-attacks. Cyber protection is a huge issue in a modern era where online criminals are becoming more and more prevalent. Opening up the door for a criminal to enter into your database can cause damage to your business that you may never be able to recover from.

With business IT support, you can know that you have professionals on your side taking proactive measures to ensure you are protected. In addition, they will help you put measures in place in the

5 Easy Ways to Create Credibility for Your Business

business

Small companies often feel as if they’re at a disadvantage competing with large businesses. They feel as if customers are likely to consider a larger company more reliable than a smaller competitor.

However, a smaller business need not fear a larger rival if customers believe that the smaller company can build and maintain credibility.

Most people believe that credibility comes from spending big money on branding and advertising. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For small businesses, credibility emerges naturally from five inexpensive, easily executed tactics:

1. Recommendations

Recommendations cost almost nothing and yet create enormous credibility.

To get a recommendation, ask your existing customers and contacts if they know somebody who could use your services. Don’t just ask for contact information; ask the existing customer to send an introductory email to the potential customer, copying you on the email.

This has three important benefits: 1) it launches you into the conversation, 2) it white-lists your email address, and 3) it avoids any suspicions that you made up the referral, as is often the case with emails that start, “Joe suggested I contact you.”

More important, when an existing customer or contact recommends you to a potential customer, you have automatic credibility because the recommender is putting his

Mentally Strong People

business

For all the time executives spend concerned about physical strength and health, when it comes down to it, mental strength can mean even more. Particularly for entrepreneurs, numerous articles talk about critical characteristics of mental strength—tenacity, “grit,” optimism, and an unfailing ability as Forbes contributor David Williams says, to “fail up.”

However, we can also define mental strength by identifying the things mentally strong individuals don’t do. Over the weekend, I was impressed by this list compiled by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker,  that she shared in LifeHack. It impressed me enough I’d also like to share her list here along with my thoughts on how each of these items is particularly applicable to entrepreneurs.

1.    Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves. You don’t see mentally strong people feeling sorry for their circumstances or dwelling on the way they’ve been mistreated. They have learned to take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, and they have an inherent understanding of the fact that frequently life is not fair. They are able to emerge from trying circumstances with self-awareness and gratitude for the lessons learned. When a situation turns out badly, they respond with phrases such

Richard Branson to Young Entrepreneurs

business

Through the decades, entrepreneur Richard Branson has not lost that certain wunderkind vibe about him and the way he runs his brand. This aura makes him especially inspiring to entrepreneurs who are looking to start young.

“Most young people with good ideas … will find that 99 percent of people will give them every reason why their idea’s been done before or why it’s not a good idea or why they’re going to fall flat on their face,” Branson recently told Inc.’s president and editor in chief Eric Schurenberg during an exclusive sit-down interview. “In the end, you have to say, ‘Screw it. Just do it.’”

At the age of 15, Branson dropped out of high school to start his first business, a magazine for young activists titled Student.

Four years later, in 1970, Branson began selling records by mail. In 1971, he opened his first record store. In 1972, he opened a recording studio. In 1973, he started his own record label. The Virgin business empire had begun, and Branson had not yet turned 24.

Today, the Virgin Group is a well-regarded global conglomerate of about 350 companies, branching into the entertainment, travel, and mobile industries.

Not all of Branson’s big ideas have been

Top 5 Reasons Why The Customer Is Always Right Is Wrong

business

The phrase “The customer is always right” was originally coined in 1909 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge’s department store in London, and is typically used by businesses to convince customers that they will get good service at this company and convince employees to give customers good service.

However, I think businesses should abandon this phrase once and for all — ironically, because it leads to worse customer service.

Here are the top five reasons why “The Customer Is Always Right” is wrong.

1: It Makes Employees Unhappy

Gordon Bethune is a brash Texan (as is Herb Kelleher, coincidentally) who is best known for turning Continental Airlines around “From Worst to First,” a story told in his book of the same title from 1998. He wanted to make sure that both customers and employees liked the way Continental treated them, so he made it very clear that the maxim “the customer is always right” didn’t hold sway at Continental.

In conflicts between employees and unruly customers he would consistently side with his people. Here’s how he put it:

When we run into customers that we can’t reel back in, our loyalty is with our employees. They have to put up with this stuff every