Hold Firm to Your Principles, But Listen to Your Customers

Hold Firm to Your Principles, But Listen to Your Customers image 300px Honeywell round thermostatEnglish: Picture of Honeywell's iconic model T...

As I sit here and start writing this it is 36-degrees outside. The thermostat on the wall says 64. It’s cold outside, and a bit chilly inside.

This is one of the two times of year when a battle begins between my head and my body. You see, despite the chill in the air, I won’t be turning the heat on anytime soon. Each Autumn and Spring there’s a game we play in our house. It’s called “How Long Can We Wait Before We Turn the Heat/AC on.” Well, at least it’s a game for me. Not so much for my family.

In the fall, my goal is to get through October with no heat. And once I do that, I see how far into November I get before the rabble begins to rise up and protest. The same goes for Spring, where I try to get as far into June as I can before turning the AC on. That’s a little bit easier because it first requires me to install the window units.

But it’s a game for me. A challenge. And I love a challenge. And a lot of it is based on preserving the balance in the checkbook. Every time the natural gas bill or electric bill comes, it’s a gauge of how well I did. And through those rough heating and AC months, I often cringe, even though we use both rather sparingly. In fact, in Winter we generally only set the thermostat for around 64. Yes, I’m that brutal. That’s why sweaters, sweatshirts, and blankets were invented. And earmuffs. And mittens.

But no matter how hard I try, the family often rises up against me, and I can at least sleep well at night knowing that I was not the one who broke. I was merely holding firm to my principles and gave in at the last minute to quell the revolution.

As you examine your business model and culture, you need to understand your values and principles, and determine how firm they are. Some might, and should, be non-negotiable. Clearly, turning the heat on is negotiable, but we all draw our own lines somewhere. Determine where you draw your lines on various aspects of your business.

On the other hand, listen to your customers. They can act like a thermostat for your business. In the same way my family clamors for heat, your customers might be clamoring for something else. Watch for the signs. When I start seeing my family’s breath, I know it just might be time to turn up the heat a tad.

You need to figure out which principles you will hold fast to, and which aspects of your business are open for change based on the thermostat of your customers.

Now if you don’t mind, I need to go grab a blanket.

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