Monday, July 27, 2009

Invest in Business

A very interesting opinion piece by David Pouge at the New York Times about the cell phone industry. While you may or may not agree with him, and have similar complaints, the second to the last paragraph caught my eye. It said:

"Right now, the cell carriers spend about $6 billion a year on advertising. Why doesn’t it occur to them that they’d attract a heck of a lot more customers by making them happy instead of miserable? By being less greedy and obnoxious? By doing what every other industry does: try to please customers instead of entrap and bilk them?"

I thought that was very interesting. I completely understand the desire to advertise to grow your business. It works, and it makes sense. The hardest thing I've seen in my business experience is sometimes getting the word out to people about what services or products you offer.

However, I think the cell phone industry in the US is engaged in public lobbying, trying desparately to grow business through advertising, and is unbalanced in terms of doing a better job for customers. I would think that even taking 20%, or $1B in aggregate, of their advertising money and using that to improve service, add towers, solve some issues, might greatly enhance the customer experience.

And with today's blogs, word of mouth, and highly connected world, they might gain more business than they do by spending that money on advertising.

You need investment and advertising, but make sure that you spend on both of them with some balance.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Watch Your Employees

Apparently PC repair people have learned a few things from auto mechanics of the past. A news group in the US spied on repair companies with some crappy results. Technicians not only were devious, wanting to charge for repairs they didn't make, but they also violated the trust of customers by snooping through details.

In my mind, the results of this operation ought to be reported to the police as well, and these individuals arrested, and fined, with a nice mark on any background check in the future.

However for the business owner, it means that it's important you are aware of what is happening with your employees. You need to trust them, and I hope you do, but perhaps you ought to verify things as well. Secret shoppers might a good solution or even some monitoring, but ultimately running an ethical business is your responsibility.

This is a sad commentary on how many people behave these days, especially younger people that let their their emotions dictate their actions.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hitting Singles

An interesting post from Mark Cuban today on Success and Motivation. People always post on his blog and ask for advice on business, and he writes on it. This is part of a series about business.

The quote that I liked in there: "I may  not hit many homeruns, but I sure hit a lot of singles and doubles and rarely strike out."

That's what I believe as well. Venture Capitalists do drive some things forward, but I think they ruin many more businesses because they are desperately trying to hit home runs. And long term, I'm not sure that's good for the economy or the world. We need some home runs, but we need many, many more sustainable businesses.