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A start-up, founded by two individuals with ideal backgrounds to establish and grow a new kind of company, focuses on truly helping consumers solve their credit challenges.
Dave Shefferman, the CEO, comes out of marketing management and consulting for various established and start-up online consumer companies, including some where credit was a centerpiece. In addition, Dave founded One Brick, a nonprofit that provides volunteers for other local nonprofit and community organizations. Larry Fried, co-founder and president, brings a combination of technology and operations gravitas. His professional kudos include management and consulting with a host of high profile corporations and start-ups, combined with credit industry expertise. Volunteering his abilities to nonprofits has also been part of Larry’s history. These two look at their new venture from the needs perspective of their customers-to-be.
To fully disclose, I have been assisting Dave and Larry for the past couple of months, offering insights to help them fine tune their corporate marketing processes as they prepare to launch the company. Through the years, I’ve worked with dozens of start-ups and turnarounds, most of which cared about serving their customers. The differentiating factor with this company: The idea itself was born out of a deep concern for the plight of consumers, who find themselves overwhelmed by the depersonalized world of credit, while their access to credit feels extremely personal and increasingly more difficult. Seeing this need, these founders began a search for solutions that would enrich the lives of their future clientele.
Working with these issues has brought home something that was always true for me. When you believe in what you’re doing, the quality of every keystroke and interaction takes on a commitment to excellence that is difficult to muster if you’re simply going through the motions of work each day.
Simultaneously, it’s not always easy for business owners – who care deeply – to see, analyze, and feel from their customers’ viewpoints. When a business is based on unique expertise, a long-nurtured hobby, or personal passion, it can be more difficult to observe your company as outsiders do. However, in these financially constricted times it’s essential to turn yourself inside out and know what your customers know. It can drive your revenues higher and help you qualify for credit.
Believing in what you’re doing gives your work a higher purpose that informs and propels you through long days and demanding struggles. Sincerity is transparent; your customers/clients know you care. Getting outside your comfort perspective and forcing yourself to understand from customers’ views makes it possible for you to transform your care into action that better fulfills their desires.
In a Forbes.com article by Mike Linton, former chief marketing officer of eBay, he explains that customer loyalty has been slipping as economic factors require price, brand, and customer care to integrate into a cohesive whole that trumps tradition. When your customers see your care demonstrated through your dedication to provide what’s important in their lives and their enterprises, your opportunity to retain their business increases.
Financing for small businesses will continue to be constrained, especially if you’re using a major financial institution rather than a community bank or credit union. To develop a fresh outlook that could lead to improving your business’s income and creditworthiness, ask yourself these six questions:
- Do I believe my business makes a real contribution to others?
- Am I seeing my products and services through the eyes of my customers?
- Does my competition do a better job than I do of personalizing service?
- Are my customers buying items from competitors for prices that are comparable to, or higher than, mine? If so, why?
- Do I ask customers what I could offer that I don’t provide now?
- What can I do to make my customers feel valued and appreciated?
In 1997, Richard Barrett, an engineer turned former Values Coordinator for the World Bank, founded a consulting firm based on a quantitative approach to assessing values in groups of any size. The international thirst for a non-airy-fairy values application was immediately apparent. Now, twelve years later, Barrett Values Centre has consulted with thousands worldwide – individuals, corporations, non-profits, nations – to define and inculcate positive values systems into organizations.
In his groundbreaking work, Richard recognized that success is greater for any individual or group, when sincere care for others is integrated as a core value. Your business will communicate care differently from your neighbor’s, or the new credit-help start-up. And the care you demonstrate through your actions can make an immense difference to your company’s financial success.