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We’ll come to you.

You do: your product, your people, your process and your expertise. THEN it's time for the customer. This kind of thinking will kill the company you work for and it will make your job meaningless.

This is not simply the contrarian view of the old axiom "the customer always comes first", it’s a reality of new business. Start any venture and, depending on the industry, you will have several competitors in the space of a few years, if not months. In technology and online businesses, we are talking a much shorter time frame — because in some cases, the upside can be so great.

Choice is everywhere, it’s a force of nature in today’s marketplace. So while you’re focusing on you, your competitors are taking your customers away. It gets worse when you try to confuse, obfuscate and hide the truth — you don’t have products and services that your customers want and need. It doesn't need to be that way.

Most companies think in terms of pounds of product or service, not ideas. Creativity is aimed only at the many ways in which the item should be sold rather than all the other areas it could touch, including the development of the product and service itself. Why do ideas matter?

Because they are the game changing parts. What makes you take a long lead over competition and build a sustainable business. Most importantly, because good ideas are market-driven and usually wrap around a customer need.

Yes, your people are important. How you select, recruit and retain talent is more important now than it ever was. With the right processes in place, you can do things better, faster, more efficiently — if they are the right things. And your expertise matters, as long as you remember that listening is sometimes the best move you can ever make.

There’s not going to be a perfect balance to the time sheet. In the end, what comes last, when you get to it, should be placed right up front. Think of the customer first, think in terms of ideas. The rest follows.

Valeria Maltoni . Conversation Agent . Philadelphia, PA . <a href=""></a></em>