Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Craig Stoss, Founder of CSCX, located in Waterloo, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I call my freelance business CSCX, which stands for Craig Stoss in Customer Experience. I am a Customer Experience Consultant, writer, podcaster, and advisor to CX Software companies. My goal is to improve the customer experience across verticals, geographies, and industries. We all benefit when our experiences are improved.
My customers are typically small-medium software companies who need guidance in setting up their processes and tools, want to understand their customers' needs better, or would like thought leadership content that highlights the value of their solutions.
Tell us about yourself
I started teaching in the tech space in the 1990s, specifically internet courses and summer computer camps for kids. I learned early on that people's skills, perceptions, languages, and experiences were incredibly diverse, which helped me develop the vital skill of adapting to individuals' requirements.
This lesson continued later in my career when I was a software consultant, and I was lucky to visit 30+ countries, meeting with clients across various industries. These experiences provided me a real sense of what customers had in common (e.g., the desire to be served timely, professionally, and honestly) and what they didn't (e.g., culture, knowledge, abilities) and how to merge those attributes together to create positive experiences for everyone.
I turned that into my freelance business. I don't have cookie-cutter answers, slide decks, or questionnaires. I want to dive into the businesses I work with: shadow real agents, speak to actual customers, and learn about new tools/technologies. Because the ultimate answer to "How do I create an exceptional Customer Experience?" is "Listen to what your customers want you to do."
This energizes me. I get excited that I am part of helping others have frictionless support that gets them closer to their desired outcomes.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is the simple fact I've put myself, my opinions, and my vision for the future of CX out there for people to read/watch, debate, and shape their decision-making.
To me, it's an accomplishment to accidentally see my content in the wild. If I am researching something and come across an article I wrote, it makes me happy that "the algorithm" thinks it is worthy of being found. Or when someone shares my work or says thanks for the guidance. It feels great to see others succeed with the work I do.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Finding customers. This is actually the main reason why I don't do my work on a full-time basis. CSCX is a part-time venture for me, as I haven't yet gotten the sales pitch/cold-calling skill necessary for me to branch out on my own... yet.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Throw out all the advice you see on social media that says you have to be compensated for everything you do. There are other values besides money. Assess each opportunity for all types of values, including relationships, interests, skills growth, etc. Some of my current, most lucrative clients, came from me offering my time for free for a few hours or even months. Take time to nurture the relationship, follow your passions, and the money will come.
- Re-use and re-purpose any content you create. People won't remember an anecdote or a slide that you have used as well as you do. Re-using content can help you push your message more and help you establish a niche inside your market while saving you time and effort.
- Just start. Take that chance. My first freelance gig came from a LinkedIn post asking people who might like to write about CX topics. I had never professionally written, but it was a hobby I enjoyed, so I replied. That chance has now turned into a steady income stream for me.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
My hobby is keeping up with new CX tools and ideas in the marketplace. If you are a leader in CX that uses an impactful tool or the founder of a tool in this space, please reach out! I would love to chat.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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