Every business starts out as a hypothesis.
Then when you validate and run the business, you are seeing whether your guess was right or wrong.
I’ve noticed a matrix of revenue to creativity with businesses.
There are a few paths businesses take:
1- Start out super creative and broke. You have nothing to lose. Then you start making money and to make more customers happy you become average (start serving to the median) and ultimately you get rich and the fact you lost your “soul” moves you to the broke-ass stage at the end of the day. (1->2->3)
Example: Think Sony.
2- Your business sucks and nothing matters. Queue Metallica music. (Stuck at stage 1)
Example: All of my failed businesses. (There is a lot to be learned from failing and ways to deal with failure.)
3- You start out super creative and broke and through persistence and remaining true to yourself; you end up creative and rich. (1->4)
Example: Photojojo.com is a great example of this. They continually send out 2 emails a week and promote photo awesomeness.
I’ve personally felt this with AppSumo where for the first 1.5 years there were no risks. Felt like sending out a free deal on Friday, sure no problem. Going to email out funny pictures, why not. Wanted to put a cat photo on our account page, done.
Overtime we got more focused on the revenue and less on continually over delighting our customers.
“To be memorable for your customer is pretty easy. Why? The BAR IS SET SO FUCKING LOW.”
Most companies run their business to the averages. The outliers where most businesses start off, quickly fades as they attempt to please their widening customer base.
For us, we recognized that our soul had steered it’s direction and we’ve been actively working to be true to ourselves and over delight our Sumo-lings. Even made it public, check out our new happiness project.
So how can you continually ensure greatness. Here’s what I believe:
6 Key Attributes to consistently making your customers orgasm:
1- Core values. Stand for something. If it’s creating food for stoners like Shopsins in New York (definitely go!) then make sure what you are doing really satisfies them. These values don’t change. These guys don’t like serving just coffee, close early (cause they want to go home) and won’t do any substitutes.
(Check out their 900 item menu)
2- The Hell No. Know what you will never do. Write it down. Make a poster, tell your customers.
See how my beloved Taco Deli never compromises on ingredients (only Vital Farms organic eggs)
3- Authentic. Unless you are appealing to teeny-bobbers who will share whatever you put in front of them, your business reflects you. Run the business you always wanted to purchase from. When you aren’t authentic your best clients/users/readers will leave.
Franklin BBQ is one of the most popular bbq place in Austin. They close when they run out of meat. The place can franchise, open more locations, stay open later but the owner (Aaron Franklin) runs it the way he wants. It’s not always profit. Respectable.
The Line at Franklins, always a ~2 hour wait.
4- Surprise. Notice the bow tie!! I can’t tell you how much attention this got in Vegas. You can’t always surprise the customer but the unexpected gets remembered. What did you eat last Wednesday for dinner? Exactly my point.
(note: you can always tell when what you are wearing is attractive when the opposite sex people compliment you.)
5- Consistent. Imagine going to your favorite restaurant and the prices were different (annoying ab testing) or the same dish always tasted different.
6- Personal. One of my favorite breakfast places in Austin is Cisco’s Restaurant. It’s not rated highly on Yelp (3.5 stars) but they know the breakfast dish I like (egg whites, beans, fajita steak), always bring it with coffee and know my name (most of the time).