Every business article, blog, tweet and book identifies and highlights certain skills that you must acquire to operate your successful business. Whether you are just starting out or are deep into your small business, the thesis is that you must master a given number of these to reach your goals. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of these rules for the game especially when they come from reputable sources.
I was listening to Jim Goetz of Sequoia Capital a few weeks back discuss the collision of intelligence and ambition as part of his "secret sauce" for his investment criteria. I love words and phrases that simplify my thinking and it got me thinking about how I would simplify all of the lessons or advice out there to just a handful of laws.
Here are my 3 laws that every successful business (and entrepreneur) must master:
You know more about your business then everyone else. I find that the best entrepreneurs are the most intelligent operators regarding their business. They know everything about their customers, their costs to operate the business, the trends in their marketplace and where they fit compared with their competition. They are just plain smarter than everyone else. And best of all, that information is literally baked into their brains and able to be used at a moments notice. As every business requires sometimes hundreds of decision a day, having that information based results in better good decisions.
You attack the marketplace with that intelligence. Too many founders and founding teams limp into their customer acquisition. In their heart of hearts they think that their product or service is so good that customers will find there way to them. The best teams attack their marketplace with a variety of tactics. Relying on one Super Bowl ad is not attacking with intelligence. Having the best understanding of your customer including how and where they want to engage with your product or service provides you an intelligent platform from which to market effectively to them.
You put customer experience front and center. Some businesses come out of the gate hard and acquire customers at a fast rate. Most have to grind their way to some critical mass of customers. But ALL great businesses deliver a deep and relevant customer experience. The new metric for investors is retention. Some tout 30 days and lately more pinpoint 90 day retention as the key to long term success. Regardless of the time period, it is imperative that you bake into the DNA of the company a customer experience lens that everyone operates on.
This startup challenge can be intimidating and there is so much information to consumer from so many that you trust and respect. My advice, boil down your world into 3 or less laws that you will live by (and make decisions on) and simplify your tasks.