Businesswoman, business researcher and author Wendy Lipton-Dibner is a highly successful serial entrepreneur who has led several profitable companies and has made lots of money by not focusing on money. Yes, that is correct. This brave iconoclast asserts that the right product or service and a business model that is not quite like what is taught in business school is the best recipe for building a long-lasting and lucrative business venture and she has the data to prove it.
Lipton-Dibner studied more than 1000 organizations that represent a wide spectrum of industries, including global, small business, for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises. The results of her research run counter to the holy grail of business management theory and practice, which are entirely focused on generating profits. From product development to customer service, it is taken as gospel that minimizing costs and maximizing sales revenues are the right things to do and all aspects of business strategy and management must be aligned around the goal of making money.
Yet Lipton-Dibner discovered that the most successful and long-lived companies are those that “make a difference” in the lives of customers. Think of the distinctive, sometimes revolutionary, experiences that have been created by Disney, Ford Motor Company, Microsoft and Whole Foods Markets. Each of those companies offers products or services designed to help customers lead more fulfilling, efficient, productive, healthier, or enjoyable lives.
Lipton-Dibner maintains that there are two types of business enterprises: those that focus on making money and those that focus on making a measurable impact on people’s lives and the latter approach generates the greatest profits. Growth strategies that position the company to make a positive impact on the lives of customers reap the most success, especially over the long-term.
So how can a start-up Entrepreneur integrate this philosophy into his/her operation? As always, one should look to target customer groups for answers.
Entrepreneurs will be well-served when they query current and prospective customers to learn how products and services and their delivery mechanisms might be adjusted in ways that would make the process more appealing and user-friendly. Might it be possible to design and deliver an ideal customer experience from start to finish and make those who do business with you so happy that they’ll tell their co-workers and colleagues, who might eventually become your customers as well? This would be the greatest demonstration of the power and impact of your brand appeal.
As you make changes that give customers The Best Experience Ever, you may find that certain adjustments in your business model, operations protocols, quality control, or product and service offerings are needed and that possibility is to be expected. You might also learn how to refine your marketing messages and sales strategy along the way, because you will be more tuned-in to what resonates with customers, promoting trust in your organization and making customers eager to do business with you.
Wise fiscal management of your enterprise will continue to be a requirement, but centering business strategies and actions on the pursuit of the biggest profit margin and highest net profits often does not pay off in the end. Finding the balance between what it takes to earn and maintain customer loyalty and the imperative of sustaining a money-making enterprise is the road to success.
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