Sometimes columnists have to go with their gut feelings and say things that will stir the pot. This can create one of two reactions: There’s a group that says, “It’s about time,” then there’s those who say, “He belongs in the local sanitarium.” This week’s article might just cause such a reaction, so I’m bracing myself for the deluge.
I have a belief that the Internet business world is hurt by all the capital funding that is floating around. We have funding in almost every flavor imaginable. There are angels, public funding, private investors, banks, and of course VC (venture capitalists). For the sake of this article, I’m going to lump all the flavors into one – VC.
Although I believe that VC is hurting the industry in a variety of ways, I’m going to concentrate on one particular area, customer support. So without further delay, and because time is money – which any VC will tell you – I’m going to hop right into my essay.
An Entrepreneurial History Lesson
In the past, when someone wanted to start a business he would start small and try to grow the company a little bit at a time. Like getting down in the trenches and handling every aspect of the business. He may do the books, take care of production, handle business development, and of course, customer support.
This forced an entrepreneur to learn every aspect of the business, and at the same time, truly identify with his customers. He knew everything that was going on in his business, in the industry. And he put in every aspect of sweat and pain needed to stay afloat. But no matter what most of his time was spent actually doing, he worried less about planning and more about doing.
Unfortunately, most Internet entrepreneurs nowadays take a very different approach. All too often Internet entrepreneurs spend their early energy chasing that VC funding. They don’t even think of finding a way to start the business. Instead, they write business plans and set up funding meetings. Now this may be very useful, but what it does is create a breed of entrepreneurs who are actually disconnected from their companies. And this results in a disconnect from their customers.
I think one of the main reasons why customer support is so poor for most Internet businesses is that all the owners and founders are no longer connected to their customers.
They are off “running the company” and doing these “important” tasks like raising the next round of funding. If Internet businesses would spend more time doing and less time planning, they would have companies that are more centered on their customers, and in turn, would become more successful in the long term.
The Internet Makes For Better Support
With all the advantages the Internet provides for creating a better customer support environment, why would an entrepreneur not capitalize on it?
As I said, I think the capital funding hullabaloo is one of the reasons for this laid back approach to customer support. Now I know this opinion may not be popular with all circles, but that’s the beauty of writing this column. I can speak my mind and get a feel for what the rest of world thinks. And on this issue, I think there are enough of us who have had problems with ISPs, or other Internet businesses that just received funding, that I will get some people who just might agree with me.