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IT IS A BUSINESS AGREEMENT, NOT CHARITY!

I will tell you about my adventure during my first days of business: my contract location was far away from my home place. So I had to move to the West of our country, and hire a team of subcontractors there. I decided to live with them in the same room, and share my daily life with them. At some point, they thought they hadn't met "THE BOSS" yet, and yet there I was, getting my hands dirty. I have to mention that this gave me a significant advantage in terms of information and cost-cutting. The people with the most accurate information are the people who operate on the frontline in whatever type of business.
IT IS A BUSINESS AGREEMENT, NOT CHARITY

We all know how exciting it is to land our very first selling contract as a startup. I am not saying that the next ones are not exciting, but the first one is that light of hope that almost assures you that the plunge was worth taking. The first contract is diamond in the rough, though! It will require a big deal of effort and hustle because the stakes are high.

Indeed, the customer’s decision to take a chance with you is not made out of charity, even though the easiest mistake to make is to think that people will be less rigorous with you because you are a beginner. This reality does not alter customers’ expactations and requirements in any way. Thus, you want to give the best value to your first customer in whatever product or service you sell. It is your first opportunity to build a base for a good customer relationship.

In Business Development for Dummies, Anna Kennedy identifies three reasons why every business should succeed in customer relationship:
1. The easiest way to get additional revenue is from existing customers. Typically, getting new work from an existing customer requires only a quarter as much effort as making a sale to an entirely new customer.
2. The best type of lead is a referral from a person that the new prospect trusts. Your customer has contacts that you want to get to know.
3. Customer case studies/references are proof that your firm is competent

As a business, you might get your way into the market with competitive prices, but this will not last if you do not offer value to your customers. Customer satisfaction results from one thing only: delivering value AS DEFINED by the customer.

What is Customer Value?


Customer value is the level of satisfaction that a customer experiences or expects to experience by making a purchase.

If you provide enough value, then you earn the right to promote your company to recruit new customers. The key is always to provide value. Guy Kawasaki 2018

When defining their business values, business managers must keep customer value in mind. Nonetheless, they must create a balance between meeting customers' expectations/offering them value and keeping the company in the black (making profit).

Along with bits of my experience in business, I will now share some essential values that can allow companies to successfully handle the first contract(and the next ones).

Business core values

1. Walk the talk

Every business should be defined by Integrity, honesty, accountability, and truth.
Key things to consider:
• Give realistic deadlines;
• Don't over advertise your products or services. Describe them for what they are;
• If you know you can't/won't do it, then don't say it. And if you said will do it, then do it

Setting specific and reasonably realist objectives and promises makes your customer trust you, and it puts you and your team at ease. You do not have to work under pressure and a fear of not hitting the target.

"People will not buy your products because you like them, they will buy them because they like them and need them." Dani Mansfield (2018).

2. Get your hands dirty:

Business leaders who are actively involved in the work have a better understanding of the challenges and requirements that are present. They have a unique perspective when it comes to making strategic planning and decision, which tend to be realistic—an excellent tip for control lovers.

I will tell you about my adventure during my first days of business: my contract location was far away from my home place. So I had to move to the West of our country, and hire a team of subcontractors there. I decided to live with them in the same room, and share my daily life with them. At some point, they thought they hadn't met "THE BOSS" yet, and yet there I was, getting my hands dirty. I have to mention that this gave me a significant advantage in terms of information and cost-cutting. The people with the most accurate information are the people who operate on the frontline in whatever type of business.

3. Care for your people

There is a saying that goes like, "if you have happy people, you have happy customers".
Every employee wants to do well and get a salary raise. While this is true, it is not enough. People want to grow, to feel included, appreciated, and involved; they need secure, and enjoyable jobs.
Involved and empowered employees are committed employees.

4. Go an extra mile

"Going the Extra mile should be the first thing on your mind when you wake up in the morning and the last at night. Everything you do should be taking the service further".
Let us face it. Winning in a new customer is much harder than keeping the one we have. Businesses should strive in the most possible way to go even beyond a customers' expectation. Please remember that going an extra-mile does not always have to bear high costs to the company. It can be in little things such as sending thank you notes, giving small bonus services, etc.

I remember for our first contract at Temaco; we did all we could to deliver the works before the agreed deadline. The execution period was 3 months, but we had completed our assignment in 2 months. Not only the customer was pleased, but it also allowed me to save a few operational costs. As my client was fully contented, he introduced me to another one and since then our client base has been expanding.

5. Superior Quality

"The secret of success is to do the common thing uncommonly well." John D. Rockefeller Jr.

I intentionally put this as the last point. Not that it is the least, but because almost everyone knows that to be successful on the market, they must offer superior quality. But how exactly does one manage to attain excellent quality?

a. By knowing what your customer wants/being informed
b. By being fast, proactive and focused
c. By adapting to change

In 2013, as I heard about a potential deal for making paves for a petrol station, I took the initiative of collecting soil samples to know what type of paves would be best and long-lasting. I must say that this is one of the reasons I was able to get the deal as I presented my findings to the customer. This was me being fast and proactive. There opportunities that come only once in life. If you don’t leap at them on time, it will often be too late.

CONCLUSION

Securing contracts and providing value to customers should be two inseparable targets of an enterpreneurs. There are requirements to achieve them and you won’t thrive in the business world, unless you accept and abide by those. Enterpreneurship is not the easiest way to get money! It is the toughest and bumpiest professional path one can choose. But the good new is, it is worth taking! When you reach the success heights, the rewards are so hefty.

Willing to embark? Welcome onboard!!!

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