Should You Focus On Profits Or Providing Value First?

Happy real estate agent signing home purchase contract. Real estate agent standing in front of the house with placard for sale. Realtor selling a house. Vector flat design illustration. Square layout.

One of the greatest lessons I ever got in business was from my mom. She began her career as a successful writer. Then, when my brother and I entered middle school, my mom pivoted and began selling homes in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles.

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My mom started by selling condominiums. Then she graduated and started selling single family homes. Then she graduated again and started selling estates. Each step of the way she had repeat customer after repeat customer.

I asked my mom what the secret to her success was. My mom said, “I put my customers needs first.”

Your customers don’t care how much money you make.


I asked my mom what she meant. She smiled at me and said, “Brett, I never try and get the most money from each sale. If I do the right thing for my clients, then I will do okay in the long run.”

My mom did more than okay. She was consistently one of the top selling realtors in Los Angeles

The lessons of my mom’s success can be applied to any business. Yes, my mom made a lot of money. However, you’re in the service of your customers.

For example, in real estate you typically have a selling agent and buying agent for every home. The commission is split between the two agents. Sometimes, to get a deal done, my mom would reduce her commission.

Again, I asked her why she would take less money. My mom just smiled at me and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll do okay. More importantly, I sold the house and my clients are happy.”


Your mission is providing significantly more value than your competitors.


So, how does my mom’s strategy translate to the world of startups? Two key problems that early stage startups have is that customers don’t know who they are. Worse yet, early stage startups haven’t earned the trust of their customers.

In order to earn your customers trust, you first have to get them to buy from you. And, the way you do that, as a new entrant into the market, is by providing significantly more value than your competitors.

A great example is Apple’s original launch of the iPhone. They were the new entrant into the market, and Apple had a decision about how much they would charge for the iPhone.

The iPhone had features the phones of the day didn’t have. And, as Steve Jobs said in the video below, “How much more should we charge for iPhone?”

Jobs go on to list all the value the iPhone provides that no other phone of the day did. And, smartly, Apple charged the exact price for iPhone as the competitors phones. That’s an easy example of how you can make it a no-brainer for customers to buy from you.

You earn the trust of your customers by doing exactly what you say you’re going to do.

Then, as a new entrant, you earn your customers trust by supporting your customers. This doesn’t mean that things will not go wrong. It does mean that you do whatever you need to do to help your customers when they inevitably have problems.

Solving customer problems was my mom’s secret sauce. It’s what she excelled at throughout her career. It’s why customers kept coming back to her again and again. And, it’s why customers referred her to other potential customers.

Thanks for all the great life lessons you’ve given me over the years, mom. I miss you.


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