What Clients Want, What Employees Need, and the Exasperated CEO

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Oh yes, many CEOs and entrepreneurs are, well, let’s just say exasperated. Exasperated by the responsibility of being a CEO/an entrepreneur, exasperated by the seeming ineffectiveness of staff, and are even more challenged by the creative demands of having to always and everywhere be responsive to the current and future needs of clients.

Yes, it can all seem like a hard knocks life; for in the beginning was the business idea. In the beginning was the passion and the rush, and in the beginning was the business premises, the furnishing, the stocking of the premises (if you sell products) and it was all supposed to be so easy.

Whilst it is not always so easy (and neither is it always so difficult, by the way), I posit that entrepreneurs can make it easier on themselves by thinking deeply about a few things from the very outset. Here goes

  •  What do you desire most out of this business venture?
  •  What your business needs?
  •  What are clients most likely to require and expect to keep them happy and coming back?
  • What do employees need, on the demand and supply side, to keep them interested in and motivated by working for you?
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Without considering these four things, well, the entrepreneurial journey will be even more exasperating than usual. You see, these four questions will bring you to the point of joint value – that point where your needs, the needs of your clients and the need of your employees all converge. Complicated? Not really. You see, in today’s world, everyone wants a say in your business, from what you sell to how you sell it. Isn’t that why you have so many followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all commenting and telling you how much they love your product – or not?

I created the following table to give an idea of the fundamentals of each of these variables. So, typically and inter-alia here are the needs:

 The Variable     

The Fundamental Needs

Business Needs Vision
Strong leadership & management
Quality products
Service excellence
Innovation & Creativity
Agility, Integrity, Responsiveness
Strategic partners/alliances
High performing teams
Informed, responsive CEO & teams
CEO Desires


Actualisation of business aspirations
High performing teams
Satisfied customers
Work life balance
Client Expectations


Quality products
Service excellence
Product innovation
Product & service creativity
Employee Needs


Demand side

High pay scales
Work hours flexibility

Supply side

KPIs and KPMs

Now ensuring that you deliver, as the CEO, on each of these needs is your responsibility and your privilege. Luckily you don’t have to do it all alone – that’s why you have staff, and if you have selected and recruited them via a thorough process and on merit, they should be able to support you to achieve all of the above.

But it takes thought and doing to think through all of this. And that place of joint value that I referred to earlier is the place where the fundamentals of all of the above converge. The key is to find those areas where CEO, business, client and stakeholder values and needs can be maximised…

Creating and building joint value requires the following:

1. Defining the why of your business – your staff, clients and stakeholders need to be unequivocally clear on your business vision and purpose. Staff and suppliers in particular. This will ensure that they can deliver on the dream.

2. Authentic interaction with clients – clients too – interact with them through events. This will make them feel so good and so wanted – which they are because you need them to bring your vision to pass. These kind of events also bring you business visibility.

3. Engage with your staff. Hold regular staff meetings. Hear feedback from your staff. Learn as well as coach. Team build and reward your staff.

The likely outcome of the above is shared strategic direction, product buy-in, product knowledge, customer engagement, service excellence and hopefully higher sales.

Joint value. What every business needs to create and build in an age where everyone wants a say in your business.

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