Every time history repeats itself, the price goes up. Entrepreneurs usually do not conduct enough research before launching their businesses and ideas. Most times, a little research would have helped them avert costly mistakes.
The mistakes people usually make in business are common irrespective of the industry. In this short business series, I will detail some of the common mistakes entrepreneurs make.
Starting in no particular order:
BUSINESS MISTAKE NO 1: LOVE YOUR CUSTOMER NOT YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE
This may look counter-intuitive, but it holds true. Never love your product or service more than your customers.
Case study 1:
A few years ago, Nokia was the rave of the moment, Nokia 3310 was selling like hot cake, and the owners of Nokia were totally in love with it.
Two events started the decline of Nokia in Nigeria.
First, the networks were bad and customers were forced to have several phones. Nnamdi Ezeigbo of SLOT approached Nokia to produce a dual sim phone, but Nokia brushed him off, and that was how he brought in TECNO with dual sim capability.
Although initially, the quality was poor, but the extra capability lured many people and with subsequent improvement in quality, it began to cannibalize NOKIA sales, making Nnamdi Ezeigbo a billionaire in the process.
Second, the free Android operating system from google began creeping into the market, again Nokia ignored this growing trend. Young people were falling in love with the touch screen android, and manufacturers like Samsung capitalized on this, but NOKIA continued to stick with Symbian operating system from Accenture.
Not listening to the customer for the second time, brought a swift and devastating end to the once almighty NOKIA, and this time, it was worldwide.
Case study 2:
When the personal computer came out, many manufacturers of typewriters, saw it as a fad that will soon pass. As the computer became more powerful , they simply kept on upgrading their typewriter, one manufacture in an interview, said that writers can never abandon the typewriter, he romanticized about the typewriter, and how writers are in love with the “tapping” and the way you have to move the typewriter head backwards, each time you get to the end of a line. He was totally in love with the typewriter.
Unfortunately, in a few years, he became bankrupt, as his sales plummeted. He was wrong. People were not in love with the typewriter, they are in love with their work…writing, and they will do it with any tool that makes it better, faster and easier.
Case study 3:
Let us look at a different kind of business and a local one. Ngene is an auto mechanic in Delta state. As a young man, he was a specialist in repairing the Volk wagen beetle. As time went on, most of his mates started switching to Japanese cars, when they noticed that customers were buying more Japanese model like Toyota, Honda and Nissan. But not Nwangene, he was totally in love with the beetle and refused to make the switch, he even refused to upgrade his skills and work on other models of Volkswagen, like the Golf. For a time, it worked well for him, but steadily, his clients began to dwindle.
Today, Nwangene is no longer a young man, and is out of work. His mates are still working, but at this age, Ngene could no longer make the switch, his workshop is empty, and even younger apprentice don’t want to learn anything from him. He is having a really bad time now.
I can go on with numerous case studies, and probably you know other similar cases (you can share with us in the comment section below), but the key lesson to take away from this, is that you should love and listen more to your customers.
Today, the Lexus RX350 may look like the sweetest baby suv, or maybe the range rover evoque, but in the next 20 years, no matter how beautiful these cars look now, they will soon look ugly, and you wouldn’t want anything to do with them again.
Don’t make the mistake of loving your product or service so much, that you become blinded to what your customers want. If you are a transporter, remember that customers are not in love with your particular vehicle, they just want to have a safe, comfortable and fast journey. They will quickly switch to any other means of having this experience, if you fail to provide it. It may be a bigger bus, smaller bus or even an airplane. It is not your product that they care about, but what they can achieve with your product.
In the next article, we will look at another common mistake made by entrepreneurs.
BUSINESS MISTAKE NO 2 : BROAD VS NICHE
This is another common mistake made by entrepreneurs, join me again tomorrow for a continuation.