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Sanjana has always been known for her positive outlook. In addition to the small wire-frame glasses that sit atop her face, she always wears a smile. Even as her family struggled, living hand to mouth thanks to Mumbai’s high living expenses, she remained a positive force in the house. Once she and her husband learned that her mother-in-law had fallen ill, however, she began to worry that they needed to make a change. She and her husband packed up their belongings for the day-long journey to the small town of Khanapur, in search of a calmer and more manageable life.
After they moved into their new living quarters, Sanjana was eager to settle into their new life. Her husband went door to door, asking if businesses and homes needed AC repairs or servicing, but he was met with almost no demand. With hardly any money coming in from her husband’s job, the bills piled up and tensions rose. How could they be worse off than they were in Mumbai, Sanjana wondered. But she was determined to make it work, and focused her will on finding a way to survive.
Soon schools started up again and Sanjana was tasked with getting her kids registered. Once she secured their spots in class, she was given a long list of the required supplies. But she couldn’t find anything in her neighborhood. After spending all day and searching far and wide, she realized that the frustration she was feeling was also probably shared by her neighbors. If she started selling supplies in their area, there were likely to be more than a few people buying. She pulled in the resources she needed and immediately started making sales. But once all the local children had gone off to school, with their notebooks and pencils from Sanjana’s stock, business slowed and the family was no longer able to cover their costs.
Refocusing her mind as she had done so many times in the past months, Sanjana began searching for a new opportunity. From friends she learned that the local courthouse was looking for new photocopying services. With her husband’s technical skills and her friendly nature, Sanjana thought that they could provide a competitive service. That night, she persuaded her husband to partner on the project, and then together they asked friends and family for any money they could spare to cover the purchase of a used photocopier.
Sanjana marched into the courthouse and requested a space to house their photocopying post. Her husband set up the old machine and Sanjana hung a small sign offering their services. It wasn’t long before customers noticed the new post and started bringing large copying projects to Sanjana. But after just a short time, their copier started to fail, taking too long to complete orders and needing nonstop repair from Sanajana’s husband. When customers saw that they couldn’t turn around projects as quickly as others, they looked for help elsewhere.
Desperate for a way to recharge their business, Sanjana sought out information on the basics of entrepreneurship. At an iCreate workshop, she learned about identifying your competitive advantage and how to shape your services to meet your customer’s needs. She thought of the lawyers she saw everyday rushing around the court; a machine that turned over copies quickly would help them meet their own deadlines. She meticulously pulled together a proposal to buy a new machine, estimating the number of customers they were serving initially, along with new customers attracted to the cutting edge service she could provide. iCreate accepted her proposal and granted her 50,000 rupees for its purchase.
Today, her machine is turning out more than 1,000 copies every day. Incredibly, Sanjana and her husband are serving more customers now than she had originally estimated in her proposal to iCreate. Their house is quieter with fewer bills to pay and stresses over money. And Sanjana’s smile is brighter than ever.
Sanjana revived her dying photocopy business by redesigning her offer for her customer. Rather than offering a mediocre service that would help meet their needs, she honed in on exactly what would help her customers do their own work better. No one is more famous for this kind of customer-centric attitude than Jeff Bezos. He said, “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” Amazon has gone from one of a few online retailers to one of the biggest in the world with one simple strategy: making sure that they help customer meet needs and solve problems through fast and reliable service.
December 20, 2018 at 06:01PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs