A lot of folks probably looked at the title of this post and cringed – “Rethinking the Customer?  They’re not the problem!” 

I get it, it seems like the wrong thing to do … but it’s not.  

The entire process your business follows, after all, is about the customer, right?  They already exist and they understand, at least intuitively, that your business has set out to solve a specific problem they need solved.  

Your own Dream, Vision, Purpose, and Mission all work together to create your business – and they serve your customers.  

But does your actual business model serve your customers in the best way possible?  

I think a lot of us can agree, if we’re completely honest, that most of us opened our doors before our customer systems were properly built.  Of course, once you’ve gotten that first customer, you’re caught up in serving them, and slapping together systems and processes to hopefully take care of your clients.  

…But what would happen if you could rethink who your client was?  Or how you attracted them?  Or how you handled fulfillment?  

Take a few minutes and think about how your business finds, attracts, and fulfills its roles for your customers.  Seriously!  

How it looks to the customer.

How it acts to the customer.

How it functions best to the customer.

But just as the Coronavirus Pandemic changed how we viewed the world, what insights does this give you, in light of your Ideal Client?  

Have they changed?  

Have their expectations changed?  

Has their trust in the type of business model NewCo is using changed?

Al of these are questions and speak to the very core of entrepreneurship:  Your dream, vision, purpose, and mission doesn’t change, but the way your business fulfills those to your customers does.   

In fact, let’s go back to the Coronavirus Pandemic…

Suddenly, all over the world, business models that had been built on the status quo had no choice but to shut down.  

Deliveries weren’t being made unless things were “essential.”

People in every country were forced to evaluate how their daily lives and routines were putting them at risk.  

Let’s call it what it was – people were terrified.  

Maybe your business was based solely on face-to-face interaction – you KNOW how it suffered in that kind of a climate!  Or delivering a physical product built overseas and dependent upon the existing shipping infrastructure?  

Did your business – at least as you did it in 2019 – survive?  

Are there things you can do – even today – to ensure that your business can survive anything?  Yes there are, because the goal of any entrepreneur is not just to survive, but to thrive!

As I’ve shared this idea with business owners over the last few months, I’ve heard this a lot of times, too…”The COVID 19 pandemic was a once-in-a-lifetime event!  We’re fine now!”

Really?

Think about 9/11.  

Think about the real estate meltdown in 2007-2008.

The Dot.Com bust in the late 1990s.  

The recession that began in 1987.

“Life-changing” events happen all the time, whether regionally, nationally, or globally, and your job, as an entrepreneur, is about creating such an incredible business model that it does survive those “once in a lifetime” events that, obviously, happen every ten or so years…

So, let’s talk about how you rethink your customer.  Instead of looking inwards, though, and picking apart your specific model and ideal client, look outward.  Look at three companies in similar industries to yours and research how they acted – and reacted – in the COVID-19 pandemic.  

I’ll be happy to give out bonus points if you can do the same for the recession of 2007-2008, but since technology has changed a great deal since then, it may be difficult to draw effective conclusions.  Remember, too, in some cases, the so-called Great Recession actually created some of the most powerful companies today in a host of different industries.  

Uber.  Groupon.  Netflix.  Smashburger.  

The truth is, you can build and design your company to survive anything when it is built properly.  

Ted Smith, CPA