If I Could Teach the World One Thing
There’s an old song (the 1970’s, it’s not THAT old) I remember hearing every Christmas on just about every commercial produced by the world-famous Coca-Cola company.
I’d like to teach the world to sing
in perfect harmony
I’d like to hold it in my arms
And keep it company.
Well, I am not that sappy, but, I do have a heart for teaching people how to grow their business.
But, the thing I’ve learned most after helping several online businesses get their starts is that many don’t listen to what they’ve been taught and carry through.
So, I thought that I should boil what I’d love to teach the world into two primary principles you can apply to your business, or the launch of your new business.
These things are so much a part of my life, I believe they are beyond the word “inseparable.”
I mean, I’d love to teach them to you. I just don’t think they’re “learnable” in the way we think.
Those two things are “gratitude” and “self-awareness.”
If you can’t be grateful, I’m not sure you can learn to be grateful. It’s just a part of who you are.
Several years ago, a church near my home was in a desperate situation. I went there to try and help them. By the end of the first year, two deaths in the church rendered me without almost any help at all. I was pastoring, leading music, teaching Sunday School, providing janitorial services, managing the business, cooking… just about everything besides teaching the children (my wife did that) and cutting the grass.
It. Is. Exhausting.
But, I learned to be grateful for anything anyone did to help me pull the weight! I thanked them in private. I thanked them in front of people. I thanked them even when they weren’t around. I thanked them when I prayed to God above for more help. I just learned to be thankful… to be grateful.
I also think back to the day I finally got married (at age 45). Three years before, I was engaged to a woman who, I found out later, was unfaithful. With two men on the side. It was devastating to me.
Finally, after three years of struggling to make sense of it all, I met Teresa, my wife.
To be honest, I’m not as grateful as I should be to her, but, I’m always grateful for her.
She taught me that I could trust women again (well, some of them). Heck, she taught me that I could trust anybody again. That had been destroyed by the unfaithful fiancé.
Yes, gratitude can be taught. But, not by another human being. You learn it from experience.
Self-awareness is much the same.
So, what are the two things I’d love to teach the world?
- Do Things That Are Meaningful
- Go For Depth, Not Width
They’re both connected to each other, but, they’re slightly different.
Let me help you with a story;
A local business owner is working as hard as he can to get as many “likes” on a Facebook Page instead of working with people who are already asking him questions about his business.
He goes on different websites to “buy” likes on posts on his page. He even sends messages to his friends begging them to like the post so “others will see the value in what I posted.”
He forgot the truth that things are not valuable. People are.
When I started working with him, I calmly pointed out that he had people asking him questions about his business. I looked at his Yelp and Google reviews and pointed out that there were some legitimate poor reviews that he could use to improve his business. I also pointed out that he’d ignored the negative reviews instead of reaching out to them, and finding some way to turn their 1- and 2-star reviews into at least 4 star reviews.
He actually, literally replied to me, “hey, reviews are reviews! At least I’ve got some!”
If I’d have gasped as much as I wanted to, the room would have become a vacuum surrounding me!
Now, Brian replies to every review! He thanks the good ones (and he has a lot more of them), and he works to restore the business relationship he had with the poor reviewers. Publicly. On the platform of the review. He spends an hour every other day reading all of his reviews, and then resounding.
Brian tells me that he’s now spending about 30 minutes a day. “Saying ‘Thank You’ is a lot faster than trying to save a customer,” he tells me. Indeed, it’s true.
But, that’s part of the truth of being grateful.
If you’re thankful for any review and see the good ones as great testimonial you’ll learn to see the bad ones as opportunity for you to demonstrate how you solve problems to the world.
DO THINGS THAT ARE MEANINGFUL TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS
Before I started working with Brian, he thought his job as owner was to balance the books, pay the help, and order new products to sell.
If I may be honest, those are the least of his responsibilities of his position as owner.
Brian’s job — the job of any business owner — is to get new customers in his business so he can hire and pay his staff and make a little profit he could take home to his wife and kids.
He forgot that he needed to do meaningful things.
And the value of the meaning is determined by his customers!
- Repairing a Broken Relationship is meaningful to the customer
- Helping a Neighbor is meaningful to the customer
- Raising Funds for a Local Charity is meaningful to the customer
- Being active in a Community Service Organization (should be) is meaningful to the customer
GO FOR DEPTH, NOT WDTH, TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS
I hate big box stores. There, I’ve said it. It’s true!
I dislike big box stores for several reasons. They’re too many to list.
For the purposes of this discussion, I hate them because they suck at thinking of customers as valuable, or of doing deep, not wide, in order to grow their business.
But, do you know the difference between you and WalMart?
They have billions of dollars behind them. You do not.
In order to compensate for this disparity, you must overcome their disparity — the way they under-value their customers.
Respect your customers. Be ready, in anticipation of their difficulties. Answer their complaints. Solve their problems before they even know they have it.
Here’s another reason I have a terrible taste in my mouth about big box stores.
Not only do they not care about their customers. They don’t even serve their customers (or their vendors, for the most part).
I’ve seen examples of WalMart finding a product vendor and then driving them out of business because they could go get stuff made in China for much cheaper! Screw the fact that this company in the US hires 140 Americans! They just want this widget for 40 cents cheaper, and they don’t care where it comes from!!!
It takes a depth of concern for your customers, for your employees, and for your community, not a width of products and services to win the game.
Here’s your assignment for today: Go check out your reviews online (Facebook, Google, Yelp, and others). Find three of the most recent “negative” reviews, and map out some ways you might could turn that customer around. Then, get busy doing it. It’s just three customers. But, it’s a start.
Also, think about your customer for at least an hour today. What are they needing right now? Can you anticipate what they’ll need three months from now. Start getting stock prepared and train your employees to meet the needs of their customers.
If “customers are kings” then start treating them like it, for goodness’ sake.!