“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” – Albert Einstein
I’m betting you’re like most inspired creators: you have something you love doing and/or creating, and you want to share it with the world AND make a living doing that work. What my co-founder Chris would say is a ‘lovely business’.
Frequently, that subtly creates a bias inside us to do what we love and in a way we think will help people. And that may seem like it’s the right thing to do. Even when I write it, I think: ‘Well, why not? Isn’t that a legitimate way to start the exchange with someone? If they like what I do – they resonate with its value – then we have a connection. If not, then we don’t.’
That can be a fine way to build a business. That might be a bit challenging at times though. Kind of depends on what you’re creating for people. If it’s readily understandable and perhaps a slight improvement on something already in the market, then it might work well.
However, more often, we creators want to offer something different, uniquely ours. And frequently – maybe a lot of the time – that doesn’t hit the spot with our prospects. They don’t ‘get’ it or they don’t find it useful or they just don’t have a high enough priority need for exactly that.
Your prospects may need something just slightly different: more of a package that combines your creation with something else, or maybe less of that, or possibly a different variation altogether.
And you may feel that’s a compromise.
It is a compromise of some sort – an exchange that needs to be a win-win: a positive for you and for your customer. That may be a compromise that doesn’t involve being ‘less’ than or giving up something important on your part, but instead you’re putting something together that connects with your prospect more readily.
Here’s an example.
Instagram did not start out as a photo-sharing app. Absolutely not. The founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, were very clear that it was an app, Burbn, to find the best places to drink bourbons and whiskeys. The idea was to share the information about the location and the Bourbon, and maybe add a photo.
After a number of months of trying to get traction for that app, they finally were persuaded to pay attention to the usage data. Most everyone was using the app to share photos.
Even when the founders knew that, it took them some time, months, to let go of what they really wanted to create originally and go with what their customers were loving.
When they finally leaned into the photo sharing app use, the app took off fairly quickly.
Does this mean we have to give up what we really want to do? Maybe we might need to give up being right about what people need. And trust that people know more about what they need and how they want to receive it that we do. That makes possible finding common ground so that we get to do what we love, and our customers experience delight in closing a gap or solving a problem they had.
Food for thought.
“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.” – Mahatma Gandhi