Morris Tabush, an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member from New York, is the Founder & President of Tabush Group, a leading cloud computing, technology solutions and IT services company. Morris attended the recent iConic event and found key learnings from many of the speakers in attendance.
Last week, I was amongst a few hundred attendees at iConic: Seattle. Most of the attendees either lived in Seattle or traveled from nearby cities to hear a lineup of amazing speakers and panelists talk about ideas to help us inspire, innovate and ignite. Being a life-long New Yorker, I flew 2,500 miles for this one day event with a lot of excitement. I underestimated the value, though, and found five truly great takeaways that would apply to a wide range of business owners:
If your goal is money, you'll often miss the mark. If your goal is excellence, the money will come.
Greg Glassman; Crossfit founder and CEO
At my company, we've always focused on continually improving and innovating our services, and believe that as long as we continue down this path, growth will be a byproduct (this has worked for the last 15 years). Greg told us about how he never focused on how to make Crossfit more profitable; rather, he sought to make the program a better experience for his athletes, helping them achieve their goals. As long as that was his focus, getting customers was never a problem (he's at 13,000 gyms without ever spending on marketing or advertising). He said, "Money is to business what fuel is to an airline - yes, you need it to survive, but it's not the goal."
Don't confuse social mission with profit motive.
Kevin O'Leary; O'Leary Financial Group CEO and Shark Tank star
Businesses exist to make a profit and in doing so, they are not only satisfying the needs of their customers but also providing for the families of all of their employees. While having a social mission is nice, doing one for publicity reasons rarely works (sure, a few companies have succeeded - i.e. Toms shoes, but copycats have flooded the market), and that social mission affects the company's costs, which in turn affects profit. Charity is important, but pay it out after you've had your business success.
Don't get lost in the crowd.
Robert Herjavec; Herjavec Group CEO and Shark Tank star
While so many barriers to starting a business have been torn down, making it easier than ever to start a business today, these opportunities make it harder for your business to stand out. Therefore, it's critical to add value and not just be another face in the crowd. There are so many services and tools out there - anyone can have an office (WeWork), a beautiful website (Squarespace), sell products online (Shopify, Amazon) and accept credit cards (Square). What you do with all of those resources has to be something that customers will want to purchase.
Expect resistance in anything you do.
Danae Ringlemann; founder of Indiegogo
Danae told us to be prepared for this in anything we do, be it a new business venture, a product line or even a sales call. She pitched over 90 venture capitalists before she found one to fund Indiegogo. As entrepreneurs, we will face resistance regularly. Mentally preparing ourselves to be persistent and keep on going will help us get through and eventually get what we need. Over the years as I've grown Tabush Group, some of our corporate initiatives and service ideas have encountered resistance; some rightfully so, as they were bad ideas to begin with ... but others have taken off really well, as we've directly developed products based on an unmet need in the small business market.
Treat customers like members.
Robin Chase; founder of Zipcar
Robin told us how she decided to make this move, giving them certain responsibilities such as inspecting cars before driving them, filling gas when the tank was low (using a Zipcar credit card), and returning the car at the right place and time. She said that when customers are treated like customers, they'll act like it; but when given responsibility, they want to help and will contribute. I'm constantly thinking about the hundred or so clients that my company services and how we can make them feel more like members of our team, not just customers.
Going in to the event, I believed if I could learn even one valuable lesson that I could put into practice at my company, this trip would have been worth it. Fortunately, I found dozens of other great takeaways, making this a valuable, cross-country trip.