This is a guest post from Jaime Tardy from Eventual Millionaire
How Customers Count in Growing to Millions
As I was preparing this guest post, I went through the 50+ transcripts of interviews I’ve done with millionaires. I wanted to pull out some amazing stories for you.
I chose three that I thought you would like, and as I was going through them, this theme came up in each one:
Focus On Serving Your Customers
It sounds too simple yet all three of these millionaires said it was a key success factor to their growth. I had to share their thoughts with you.
Dani Johnson – Homeless and Broke to Multimillionaire
Dani was homeless and broke at the age of 21. Her husband had just left her, and she had $35K in debt. She was blaming everyone for where she was. She called herself the dumbest person in the room. It wasn’t until she took some self-responsibility and real action that things changed.
She started selling other people’s products and made $250,000 in her first year. (And a million in her second year!)
I asked her for her advice on how she was so successful in the beginning.
“I focused on what I can do to help other people get what they want.”
She told me about how important focusing on that ONE thing was. She now has 5 companies and is a multimillionaire, speaker and trainer. But that same concept has helped her grow all of her businesses.
“If the business world today adapted to a couple of key things, they would be dynamically more successful than they are today, and I know this because I have clients that range from engineering firms to telecommunication companies to people who market a weight loss product from their house.
It all boils down to the same thing – people are people no matter where we go. People love to be served. They love to be catered to. They love to feel special and honored and when you do that with the general public, you stand out so very different than everybody else they are doing business with, and they will pay more money to do business with you.”
Doug Guller: From Zero to 600 employees in 5 years
Doug has a great story too. His first business failed even though it was during the great internet boom of the late 90’s. (I thought it was supposed to be easy to create a company at that time!)
He ended up going back to work for about 4 years to try and save enough money and start a new business. He had a great job, but it wasn’t fulfilling, and he knew he wanted to be a business owner again.
So around 2006 he started his first restaurant with no outside funding. He had no experience in running a restaurant, though he did say he was a bus boy and a bartender and every other odd job at a restaurant when he was young. He did things differently than everyone suggested.
He didn’t spend nearly the amount of money that everyone said you had to in order to start a restaurant.
I asked Doug how he had such success so quickly with his business and he said:
“We’re focused daily on making sure that we create a wow experience for our fans. All these things that our fans care about in order to win that day, and when we’re just gobbling up little wins day by day, one day you’ll lift up your head when you’re talking to Jaime and you go, Wow– we do have 600-plus employees!”
In five years he had grown to 12 restaurants and 600 employees. His goal is to have 20 restaurants in the next few years. It’s amazing to see that even though his first business failed, he went back at it and persevered. Now he is a huge success.
Derek Sivers: Musician to $22 Million Company
Derek Sivers was a musician. He wanted to help his musician friends by letting them use his credit card payment processing account, so he created CDBaby.com. It wasn’t meant to be a business. It turned into a nice-sized company that he ended up selling for $22 million (and gave the proceeds to a charitable trust).
Derek said he gets emails all the time from entrepreneurs asking, “How can I get this to a million people?” and his response is, “Don’t get it to a million people; get it to one.”
Derek said, “Almost think of yourself as a personal service. How do you make one person happy with what you’re doing, and make them really happy so that they’re so thrilled with it that they will go tell their friends?
If they’re not so thrilled that they will go tell all their friends, then keep working on it until that one person is so thrilled that they will go tell all their friends.
Then do that with a second person and a third person. Focus on individuals and what they need, and get in deep with how you can help them and how you can make your service or product better for them.”
Even after a year of working on CDBaby he had no employees and was only sending out a few orders per week. But that’s a good thing! Companies can grow too fast. Derek mentions that organic growth is what you want. You don’t want to invite a million people to your site and have it break, or have too many users to handle the load.
So this week ask yourself, “How can I focus on making my customers’ experiences amazing?”
Take some time to sit down and identify one way to change your business. You want your customers to WANT to tell other people. You want them to become raving fans.
If you already have an idea on what you will do, put it in the comments! I’d love to hear it.
Jaime is a business coach and speaker and has been featured on CNN, MSNMoney, Success Magazine, Fortune.com, Yahoo’s homepage and more. Each week she interviews self-made millionaires for their business tips, advice and stories.
Check out her latest free business webinar called “Millionaires Say What?”