What 3 Successful Influencers Have Taught Me About Running My Business
Michael Wood | Forbes
I’m normally not one to talk about business forums, conferences or other events, but this year has been a little different. After attending numerous marketing conferences and TEDx Talks at the advice of an influencer, I am now officially hooked.
One event that I was hoping to make, but wasn't able to due to a scheduling conflict, was Synergy Global Forum in New York City. Occurring on October 27 and 28 of 2017, speakers include the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk, Simon Sinek and Sir Richard Branson, to name a few. I highly doubt I will get to see them all in the same room again in the near future.
Each of these influencers has had a meaningful impact on me, and how I run my business. So, while I wasn't in attendance this year, I thought I’d make a list of what each person has taught me and how I have been able to apply it to my own business experience.
Gary Vaynerchuk: Never Sugarcoat Your Opinion
People seem to hang on every word that Gary Vee says. Even Brian Sutter from AllBusiness has him at number 1 on the list of the 50 Most Influential People in Small Business Marketing. While he does have a lot of great advice, it is more about how he delivers it that has helped me through the years. Here is what I mean.
Vaynerchuk is not shy to say what needs to be said. In fact, some get offended by him as he doesn’t sugarcoat his opinions. This is one reason why he is so popular and people love to hear him speak. People want the truth, no matter what it is.
I used to think the best way to retain a customer was to tell them what they wanted to hear. That was a huge mistake, one that often comes back to bite people in the rear end. That’s why I learned to tell people the truth, no matter the consequences.
If I am unable to help someone, I tell them so. There is no “trying” for customers in the marketing business. You either do it or you don’t, and letting people know if I can or not has helped me retain many customers and earn a ton of referrals.
Simon Sinek: You Can’t Always Do Things On Your Own
Simon Sinek is probably best known for his book Start With Why, but it happens to be his TEDx Talk based on the book that has helped me through my career. In fact, the talk has become one of the most watched TED Talks of all time, gaining more than 27 million views.
The one piece of advice that has resonated with me about this talk is that you cannot always do things on your own. When I started my marketing business, I was on my own. Things were easy for me, as I didn’t have a ton of clients or projects that needed managing.
Over the years, though, demand for my services grew, and I tried to scale my business without any outside help. Unfortunately, Sinek was correct in that you cannot always do things on your own. Not only did I fail to scale, but I actually harmed myself by neglecting some of my good clients while attempting to do so.
After deciding to give it another try, I brought on a team and have since been able to handle the workload while maintaining the level of professionalism people expect from the services I offer.
Richard Branson: Customer Service Can Make Or Break Your Business
I never really thought much about Sir Richard Branson. After all, he’s just another billionaire and people only follow him because he’s rich, right? Wrong! It was my experience on a flight back in 2013 that made me join the crowd of Richard Branson followers.
It wasn’t just one thing that happened on that Virgin Airlines flight, it was everything. I traveled a lot by air during that time and had issues with just about every other airline I flew (except for Southwest, as you know what you are getting with them up front). It took only one flight with Virgin to make me a customer for life.
The following year, Branson released the book The Virgin Way, detailing everything about the company from his leadership to employee experience, and more. I didn’t need the book to tell me what I’d already experienced. Those who work for Virgin know how to deliver excellent customer service, and they seem genuine about it. When people feel like part of the team, they are more likely to act like part of the team. Virgin is a true testament to that.
Focusing on customer service and empowering my team to feel like part of the business has helped me maintain current clients and grow my business with new referrals. I guess I should have listened to Branson a little sooner. In fact, Branson’s talk about company culture is one of the talks I missed at Synergy Global.
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