The Customer as the Passion You Follow

Andrew Youderian posted a thought-provoking piece to the Shopify blog yesterday about why Ecommerce entrepreneurs should be passionate chiefly about building their business rather than passionate primarily about their products.

A good point – but wait a minute.  As Andrew mentions at the end of the post, passion is essential to overcoming the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. So what should your passion be when you found a business? We propose that for any business to be successful (and for you to wake up every morning excited by it), the customer must be the passion.

Taking Mark Cuban in a slightly different direction, Tony Hsieh said the following about founding Zappo’s:

“We asked ourselves what we wanted this company to stand for. We didn’t want to just sell shoes. I wasn’t even into shoes – but I was passionate about customer service.”

If you are passionate about providing tremendous happiness and value to your customer, you will have the passion to take all the steps necessary to build a complete business.

In this blog post, we offer three ways for keeping your passion focused on the customer.  Building a successful business isn’t an overnight process – and reaching the top of the mountain will require finding a fundamental passion that you look to every day for motivation.

Three Ways for Building a Customer-centric Passion

  1. Talk to your Customers.  Unlike traditional stores, Ecommerce store owners don’t ever meet their physical customers; however, this doesn’t mean that you can’t build relationships with your customers. Whether it’s calling your best customers, emailing a subset of new customers with a personal email asking if they were happy with your service, or just calling any customer to say thank you, personal interactions help remind you that behind every purchase is a human being who’s life is made better by your hard work.
  2. See your Customers. Too many companies today have dashboards showing #’s of customers, $’s sold, # of website visits that they focus on for inspiration. These dashboards are great – but if you supplement it with an active view of people (and ideally pictures of them and places they are visiting from) you can actually see the people who are interacting with you. (more on this in our past post: Building a Better Customer Dashboard)
  3. Develop a Customer Profile. What does your best customer look like? Where do they live? What do they do with their free time?  What gets them excited?  It’s impossible to know these answers for all of your customers, but creating a detailed mental picture of that average “best” customer lets you keep your decision-making personal – how do you think her or his life would be affected by the decisions your making? Many of the world’s largest retailers go so far as to name their customer profiles (Savvy Suzanne, Trendy Tina, etc) and to even have a picture of this hypothetical customer.

Business is Up and Down. Passion must be Constant.

When I first saw “Rocky”, it wasn’t the end that made the strongest impression – it was of Rocky training – after months of working out, running to the top of the steps and throwing his arms in the air.

To achieve something great, we need the passion that can motivate us amidst our down times, because every day will not go great and setbacks will happen.  We just need a north star to keep us going – all of the people out there who will be our customers.


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