Speaking at the 20th graduation of Goldman Sachs's 10,000 Small Businesses program at LaGuardia Community College on Tuesday, the billionaire businessmen discussed a variety of issues, including regulation, talent acquisition, and cybersecurity. But perhaps the most useful bit of advice--particularly among the program's 33 new entrepreneurial graduates--had to do with where they think the business magic happens.
For his part, Warren Buffett, the 85-year-old Berkshire Hathaway CEO, doesn't think you should just satisfy your customers; he wants you to delight them.
"Tomorrow morning, when you look in the mirror, write--or just put it in lipstick or whatever you want--'delight my customer,' not satisfy my customer," said Buffett.
"I don't remember how much I paid for my last car, but I remember the experience," Buffett continued, explaining that any business that delights customers can count them as an unpaid sales force. They'll be back to buy your product, and they'll talk about it with other people, he says.
The billionaire investor also pointed to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as the "classic example" of someone who knows how to delight his customers. "Here's a guy who 20 years ago had a very, very small business," Buffett said. "But he set out every day to delight his customer by fast delivery, by lower prices, whatever it took. And, today, he is still thinking about how to delight his customer. He never quits."
Michael Bloomberg, the founder and CEO of the eponymous financial software company, agreed with Buffett: "Customers are everything." But, he added, employees are a company's greatest asset.
"You should be sitting in the middle of your employees; get rid of any offices," the former New York City mayor advised. "Rip down the walls; make an open plan ... I've done it in the company and it's gone from one person to 20,000, and I think that's one of the big reasons."
With that in mind, you need to constantly encourage your team, suggests Jack Dorsey, who founded Twitter and Square. "Attracting great people means you have to keep an understanding of what your purpose is," Dorsey says.
You also need to be able to clearly articulate your company's purpose, and identify alignments and misalignments. To suss this out, the tech founder will often ask job candidates one question: Why are you here? "If I see passion for our purpose, I know that any skill can be taught," added Dorsey.