Going to a good conference can inspire and re-energize you. That’s the way I feel after returning from the recent Inc 500 conference.
I’d like to share some notable quotes and “sound bites” on the topic of customers, employees, operations and competition, that I heard from speakers and attendees at the conference. Perhaps these quotes will inspire and energize you, too:
- Joanna Meiseles, CEO, Snip-its Hair Salons for Kids — “When I started my business I did not know what EBITDA was. I had no business experience. I was not a hairdresser. I just was a Mom with an idea, and I knew there was a customer need for a kids’ hair salon.”
- Jack Stack, CEO of SRC Holdings — “The moment I knew what it meant to be a business owner was when I had taken on a failing company and went to the bank to borrow $5 Million. The banker asked me how I would pay it back — and I had no idea. No education had ever prepared me for knowing how to answer that question. That’s when I knew what it meant to be a business owner.”
- Scott Cook, Founder, Intuit — “Today you must demonstrate your value before they [future customers] buy. One way to do that is through the Internet, making information available that is not just about your product. For example, Intuit has set up sites such as TaxAlmanac.com and JumpUp.com.
- Clint Greeleaf, Chairman of Greenleaf Book Group — “Be quick to fire people who are the wrong fit. Use the ‘band-aid’ principle: just tear it off. It’s in everybody’s best interests. Your employee knows it isn’t the right fit. Just come out and say, ‘it’s not a good fit.’ And don’t try to fight over it. Pay the severance, get a release, move on.”
- Mark Jarvis, Chief Marketing Officer, Dell –“Give your customers a way of talking about you. Enable user-generated content on your websites. Start forums. Write blogs. When you do so, 80% of the people will comment with positive things, and 20% will write negative things. But soon you notice something: your strongest advocates will jump to your defense and present another side. By allowing negative comments, it gives an opportunity for people who feel positively about your company to become even more vocal advocates.”
- Gigi Lee Chang, Founder, Plum Organics — “What was the big ‘a-ha’ moment when I knew I had made it? There was no big moment, maybe just some small moments. My company is pretty young and I’m still awed by having customers. When people tell me they use my products, I have to pinch myself that it’s real.”
- David Powers, Vice President, GotVMail, — “Our customers took the chance to become entrepreneurs themselves and start businesses. Being on the Inc 500 list gives us a reason to thank them and tell them how much we appreciate them — and how much we appreciate what it took for them to become entrepreneurs.”
- Gauri Nanda, Founder of Nanda Home – “Am I concerned about manufacturing my Clocky product in China due to the fear of knock-offs? Sure, I had some concerns. But I found a manufacturer that is highly ethical and the manufacturer helped refine the design — so it turned out to be a valuable move. Even in the U.S. you have to worry about knock-offs, for instance from big consumer product companies that will introduce similar products as soon as they see your success.”
Note: some of the above quotes were paraphrased slightly, because I did not use a recording device. However, I tried to stay true to the substance of the remarks. I picked the most memorable quotes from my notes that I thought might inspire and inform you.