Business Mistakes: Who Are You Interacting With on A Daily Basis?

Handshake of businesspeopleWhen analyzing a business people often think about the business itself.  They consider the business model, the product or service, the sales proposition, and the competitive advantage.  What many might not dig into when they think about a new business is with whom they will be interacting on the day-to-day operations.  I say this because we made this mistake.

When getting into business, your quality of life and your ability to keep going when times are tough has quite a bit to do with the quality of your interactions or lack thereof, on a day to day basis.

This means who you deal with and how often.  Are you dealing with vendors, customers, employees, contractors and or partners?  How much of your time are you dealing with those people?  What kind of people are they?  Can you identify with those people?  Do you share a cultural background with them?  Can you gain their trust and respect?  Do you share the same language or is there a barrier?

This is really important stuff and should not be overlooked.  Think about this deeply when considering getting into a business, particularly if you are investing money.  You do not want to find out later that you will have serious problems with one of the groups you will end up interfacing with for the majority of your day.

For example, maybe you are an MBA grad considering getting into a business that will have you dealing with blue-collar types like mechanics or construction contractors.  Think about how well you can interface with these people. Some people can move in and out of different subcultural groups with ease, others cannot.  Sometimes you will not know if you can until you try.

These blue-collar individuals may not care how many degrees you have or what university you went to.  If you cannot tell the difference between a wrench and a plier, you will get no respect.

We made this mistake with a babysitting business we started and failed at.  We have a close friend who has a successful baby-sitting placement service in New York and decided to open a branch of the company here in Maryland.

We looked at the business from all the angles: The business model (tried and tested by her), the market we were in, the customers we would interface with (other professionals), having a female partner as the face of the company, among many other considerations.

On its face the business seemed like something we could handle quite easily and replicate in our market.  Where we made a mistake was dealing with the sitters.

Many of the babysitters with our friend’s company are either her friends or women in their twenties who are aspiring actresses or models with flexible schedules.

The demographic of young women for sitters in our area is different.  Typically they are still in college or just out of college.  They are younger, less mature and weren’t that flexible in terms of time commitments.

Simple courtesies like saying you are no longer able to show up for an interview were not taken by this group of girls.  Our partner is also just better in interfacing with young women.

What we found was trying to find and manage the sitters who actually provide the service for our company was hugely frustrating and much more difficult than we ever anticipated.  Ultimately we lost interest in building this company, which we regret.

When we were considering this business, the issue of finding and dealing with the sitters was an afterthought.  We were way more concerned with marketing to customers and the viability of the business model.

Our advise is do not make that mistake.  Think about everyone you have to deal with.  Not to be redundant, but your quality of life I believe is largely determined by the quality of your interactions.

Yes, you may have to use some stereotypes because frankly in this situation that is the best you have.  I know this is not politically correct.  We all have experiences  dealing with different demographics.  We all know if they make us uncomfortable or not.  This is the reality, accept it and move on.    If you do not bring this into consideration, I believe you are making a mistake.

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