If you are a technology entrepreneur, one of the core reusable modules you should first create is a membership database and code libraries to store and retrieve customer information. I have reviewed the code for my membership module that I plan to re-use and decided to spend more time writing up specifications and architecture for my upcoming hustles. So I’m going to share why the focus on creating a membership solution yourself as a programmer.
Own Your Customers
Your membership database contains your customers and there is nothing more important in your hustle arsenal than the tools to attract, retain and serve your customers. Understand only your customers will put the food on your table, keep the shallow sex partner stopping by your hotel room, furnish the Italian wardrobe in your closet and drop the Italian coupe in your 3-car garage connected to your 7-bedroom crib. If cats think getting racks of stacks is about anything other than having customers, then they a distracted fool in the hustle game.
So that means you create a database that basically can insert your customers information. Your database should have the following components:
Account Information. This is the login and password information and the password should be encrypted. In addition, you create an account number similar to a credit card number or member id. You also have activity data such as the date they signed up, their last login date.
Personal Information. This is the information about the customer such as their name, their sex, their date of birth and other tidbits. Remember not to ask the customer for personal information that is not intrusive or show you are trying to be nosy. What you want to do is get the minimum information up front and request additional information once the need arrive.
Business Information. This is information about their business because a person can represent a business if they are doing business with you. So you get the business name and get the industry of the business to know what markets you are serving. But you also capture the person role or title at the company so you know who you are dealing with. Also keep in mind that multiple people can be assigned to a business.
Contact Information. This is the customer phone number, address, mobile number, VOIP number and email. In some cases you probably can add social networking like Facebook and incorporate Facebook API for things like gaming where you post game results to their Facebook wall. Also, this data is very sensitive and make sure you do not abuse your communication with your customer. You send them emails but give them the option to subscribe and unsubscribe to newsletters and offers.
Stored Value Information. This is a prepaid account that the customer can prepay and spend on services. For example, with DBEXX where our customers will buy and sell options, they will need to execute trades and pay instantly and do not have time to enter credit card information. Also, having a stored value database is used for having account services like parking passes, Laundromats and other pay-as-you-go services in the hood.
The Key Is Data, Not Open Source Stuff Out There
The reason why I didn’t mention open source packages to manage membership data because we need to stress ownership of data. I really don’t want someone coming here talking shit about oAuth or the ASP.NET Membership because they are missing the whole point of ownership. You need to own your customer data because your business revolves around that data. It is not a wise business decision to create a business foundation on some open source packaged shit you found off the Internet, especially if your business starts to grow rapidly.
Look at the foundation I created above with all of the components – because I done all of this myself, now I can create everything from prepaid arcade games in the hood, web-based parking software that track parking on a lot and charge cats, create membership clubs like a gym club or create games on Facebook where people can sign up and spend on digital trinkets like a golden sword to slay the 8-headed dragon and shit. By owning the data, that’s how you can hustle like a goddamn boss and spit out business models like chicken bones while other cats on some open source package shit that the developers stopped supporting after 6 months and providing no updates.
Now, this is an open topic because you have to decide how to get the money from your customers. What I see as best practice and what I will do is basically create a billing system where we send an invoice and the customer can pay with a check net 30. In fact, we can allow the customer has 30 days upfront and we start emailing them a bill that they can send to us manually. See, what you notice is we take away the whole automated payment processing altogether.
We are only using a payment processing page for depositing into a stored value account. But if we are going to offer web-based services, we just send a bill or using an external billing system to bill the customer. Keep in mind that most businesses do not have credit cards and use only checks or they can only pay with a printed invoice they have to get approved for their accounting practices. And in those cases, you can’t slap a PayPal credit card form on your page.
That’s why I’m bringing this up because I want you to learn about ownership of your customer data and learn how to not muddle up data with processes that need to be separate. The billing system is a separate process and you have to learn to own and keep processes a separate system. That’s the biggest advantage of ownership where you can separate out the processes and make your business a lot more scalable. See, by keeping the billing system separate, you can switch up payment providers as your customer base grow.
The Unlimited Possibilities of Owning the Membership Data
When you own your customer data, then you have what it takes to really grow your hustle. Now you can really drill into your customers and reward your best customers who always sign in and create retention strategies for customers who haven’t logged in with incentives to come back. In addition, with a stored value account, you can see who is buying what and their frequency and offer reward bonuses – these are stuff you cannot do if you don’t own your data.
Now you are best of class with your hustle as you do for the hood. This is why we want you to understand the importance of ownership of your customer data. I decided to make sure before I launch any hustles, we get this membership system right so when we start getting customers we know how to handle them.