How I built a multi-million dollar consulting business with 500 (borrowed) dollars
in my pocket…
I always had a dream regarding my business life: to build a company dedicated to, and widely recognized for helping business people flourish and prosper. This company would truly make a difference in the business community; I would witness, through its activities, a very sensible change in my customers’ conditions. In other words, my activity as a consultant would truly positively impact others’ lives.
An MBA from the USA, I always had the apprehension that what I had learned did not really help me be successful. The daily challenges a business owner faces do not, usually, get handled with theory and “multinational-corporation thinking”. I thus wanted to find and test a management system which would indeed be able to provide answers to my daily troubles and challenges.
I borrowed 500 dollars to start my business, very determined to make my dreams come true A.S.A.P.! I learned the Hubbard Management System while I was starting this consulting company. Very fast, I learned one principle from that system which I recognized could help me boost the company results in less time than I had ever imagined.
This principle alone allowed me to bring in our first million dollar of services, in less than one year. Today, after 20 years being in the business, I consider it to be the most powerful and the most crucial principle for success. Simply stated, it says this: you need to formulate a clear basic purpose for your business, which the customer can agree with!
The vast majority of business owners consider the ultimate purpose of their business to be: making money. Although there is nothing wrong with it, you must ask yourself the following question: how many customers are buying your product solely for the purpose of making you rich?
The answer is obvious. Money is not an end by itself, even if the media, movies and some celebrities would like to make you think it is. Money is only a mean of exchange. You attract money to the degree that you exchange a product or service which has great value in the eyes of the customer. The most valuable it is, or at least the more valuable it is being perceived by the customer, the more you will attract money.
There is something very wrong in the society today, about the subject of money. Too many people believe that they must make money, rather than earn it. One does not make money, except perhaps some central bank. One has to EARN money, simply because whoever gives you his money has decided that you were providing something valuable to him.
So this principle “formulate a basic purpose which the customer can agree with”, stroke me in the head, then. I started to brainstorm about our consulting services with the viewpoint that if we could offer something which was very valuable for our customers, we would expand faster and stronger. If we could find a basic purpose – meaning, a fundamental one, or a senior one, which the customer would be happy with, we would indeed develop a leadership in the market in less time than any competitor could dream of.
A good example of application of this principle is IKEA. This company has grown to become the biggest furniture company in the world. Whether you like it or not, IKEA became am example of excellence not only in the furniture business bit also in the customer satisfaction. People love this company because, as their Management says, “it is not just about furniture, it is about making people happier…”
The basic purpose of IKEA, as stated in their corporate documents, is:
“To create a better everyday life for the many people.
“We make this possible by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them…”
When you look at that example, you see that none could disagree with such statement or vision. You realize that, as a potential buyer of furniture, you feel taken care of by the company, as they truly put attention to making your life a better, more enjoyable one.
Here is how I implemented this principle:
I did surveys to find out what was it that business owners wanted to handle or be able to master, mo than anything else. What could be a big frustration that, if handled or if under control, would make a business owner much, much more effective, happier and eventually more successful?
I then developed the solution to such a frustration as my main service. I worked hard to provide the best of such service, knowing that I was indeed helping my customers get rid of this main frustration.
I found out that the biggest frustration in 90% of the surveyed businesses was: people! Everyone who could recognize that people are the most important asset of the business also confessed that they could be the source of most frustrations, disappointments or bad experiences. Handling of personnel was, per surveys, the key concern of success.
I thus provided them with the appropriate information and management tools on the subject of people, based on the Hubbard Management System.
To make a long story short, I provided business owners with something that was extremely important to them. I made it my basic purpose to help them solve one of their biggest frustrations in business! It helped me boom my business very fast, and to date my company is recognized as the most knowledgeable one in the field of “people management”, having delivered tens of millions of dollars worth of service.
How can you apply this principle in your business?
Find out a major frustration or preoccupation that your customers have. Make it YOUR basic purpose to solve it or to help your customers to handle it. In other words, find something that you can deliver which makes the customer’s happier, his life easier!
It does NOT matter what business you are in. Let me give you another example: a man used to operate a gas station in San Francisco. There are many stations in the city. But he used to attract twice as many cars in his station that every other one. Why? He made his basic purpose to make his customers a bit happier, a bit pumped up, every time they would fill their tank. He did something nobody else was doing, at that time.
When a customer would fill his tank, he could come in the office and have a free cup of coffee – the best coffee in town! Think it is crazy? It was not just because of the coffee that he was successful. Everything in his shop was geared toward making his customers’ life easier, a bit more enjoyable. And the cup of coffee was a symbol of it. That man was working on bringing a new idea every week: “how can I make my customers’ life a bit better, a bit more enjoyable…?”
This principle is much more than a marketing principle. It is a philosophic principle, by which one lives and to which one commits oneself, on a daily basis! Apply it vigorously, almost religiously, and see what happens…
Patrick Valtin is a well known consultant travelling around the world and lecturing about management issues. He addresses subjects such as marketing, recruitment, sales strategy, people management, etc. He has trained over 70,000 business owners, executives and sales professionals in over 30 countries. He is the founder of U-Man Belgium, a leading management consulting company representing the Hubbard Management System®. The company is the biggest licensed consulting group using this technology in Europe.
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