What is the major delight in running kindlemalaysia.com?
One answer that immediately springs to our mind is the perk: one gets to read books during office hour. Immersing ourselves in reading is always our greatest joy and pleasure, and getting paid for reading is like a dream come true!
But, there are also other bright spots in running the business, and no, making money doesn’t come even remotely close.
In fact, we are just making enough to scrap by to sustain our operation; lots of our friends are making a lot more money than us by just becoming a salaryman.
What about working hour flexibility? Some business owners do have the flexibility in choosing what hours to work ( or not). But for us, running kindlemalaysia.com is like running a marathon 24/7; we still have to work during normal office hours because we have a shop at Shah Alam that opens during weekday office hours, and in addition to that, we still need to work at night or during weekends. To us, the working hour flexibility only means that we have the freedom to work during night and weekends.
What about the freedom from boss? A lot of people hold the fantasy that being self-employed means that they are no longer under the tyranny of their stupid, credit-grabbing-good-for-nothing superior. But to a business owner, every single customer is your boss. So now instead of having one big boss, you have many small bosses running around you…. Hmm.. not too sure that’s a trade up.
No, none of all the above.
The bright spot that constantly put a smile on our face, is the kind of message we receive from our fans:
These kind of messages truly make our day. We are eternally grateful to our fans who care to write us thoughtful messages, and tell us how much our work has helped them.
It gives us meaning when we serve others, it’s the second mountain that we are climbing after all.
Providing good customer service, is it that hard?
Oh yes of course it is.
How many times you see an online merchant goes out of his way to help his customers solving tangent problems? Selling is easy: you give me money and I give you device. Case closed.
But truly providing values is hard. We have to constantly ask questions like: how do we provide more values? why after you buy kindles, you are not using it? How can we encourage reading so that more people will buy kindles? If kindle is so good, why until now not every book lover is a convert?
Asking these kinds of questions allow us to stand in our fans’ shoes and troubleshoot why they are not buying kindles more and why they are not spreading the gospel of kindle. Is it because it’s super hard to buy books from Amazon store? Is it because the kindle ebooks are still too expensive (what??)? Or because one cannot buy kindle Japanese mangas?
Or is it because they want to have full access to library of books at a cheaper price?
And no, your fans won’t tell you straight what are their needs– because they have no such obligations, and a lot of times they don’t even know why they aren’t buying in the first place. It’s your duty to figure all these out, and present them a value proposition. It’s like you need to have the psychic power to read other people minds and devise a solution that perfectly meets their needs. And sometimes, you will get it all wrong and waste your time and money, but this is just the cost of doing business.
Running a business requires you to figure out an edge, your edge. A lot of sellers just take the easy way out by making lower price their edge. They figure that as long as they can bleed their competitors to death, they win by default. But this is not a sustainable strategy at all. And we think it doesn’t really benefit the customer. True, you get to save a few bucks by purchasing from a cheaper source, but in the end, there are other values that you miss.
Starting a business is easy. But can you maintain and run it continuously? Do you have an edge that you can leverage on? Are you willing to walk extra miles for your fans? Can you provide extra values to your fans?
If the answers were negative, and you just wanted the glamor of becoming a businessman, or you just wanted to be able to brag to people that you “started a lot of businesses”, then perhaps doing business isn’t really for you.
It’s doing the hard thing that counts after all.