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Rule #1: Give them what they want!

Possibly the most important thing to understand about business is that unless someone wants what you have to offer and are willing to pay you money for it, then you are going to go broke.

Successful business leaders and entrepreneurs understand that no matter how good or how brilliant your product or service is, if people don’t want to pay for it then what you have is a hobby and not a business. In short the essence of business success can be summed up to be 'give them what they want'.

Sadly the world is full of businesses with 'great' ideas where the phones don’t ring, the orders don’t flow, the cash never comes, the bills add up, and then the doors close.

There is a very famous quote by Henry Ford which says something along the lines of (depending where you read it) ‘if I’d given the people what they wanted I would have given them faster horses’.

Henry Ford of course is famous for making automobiles available for the common folk through his implementation of the production line.

I was coaching a group of executives recently and someone interjected and brought this quote to my attention, which is understandable because on the surface it does imply that Henry Ford gave people something they didn’t actually want. At the time cars hadn’t been around very long and were still very much in the early adopter phase. The quote implies that Henry Ford saw a need the consumer didn’t know they had. In other words he gave them what they needed and not what they wanted.

I don’t buy into that. I don’t buy into that because people wouldn’t just head into their local horse dealership and ask for ‘a faster model horse please’. And if they did it was because they wanted to get to where they were going more quickly and with the convenience a horse gave them of doing so when they chose to.

What they really wanted was a faster mode of personal transport and at the time their realm of knowledge was limited to what they knew - the horse. The car solved their problem by giving them a faster, more convenient mode of personal transport.

Henry Ford actually knew what they really wanted and if he offered them a teleporter or a time machine then they would have bought that.

Giving people what they want is not about the product or service itself but what it can do for your market. It’s about solving their problem. The majority of people only wanted a car once they understood the benefit having a car meant. In short, find out what they want and give it to them.

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