How to be a can do kind of business
Paul Ryan | November 20, 2017
When you decide to go into business for yourself, naturally you do so to make a profit and earn an income.
But to make a real stand-out success of it, your main focus should not be on the bottom-line, but on offering the best possible service for your customers, and striving for excellence in all aspects of your business. Get this right, and your bottom-line is more likely to take care of itself! This principle applies whether your business is in retail, trades, catering, consulting, or IT, and whether it is online or not.
How small business has an advantage
In this day and age of the large chain store along with mega-sized supermarkets and automated phone services, anyone who can offer personalised, professional and friendly service is more likely to stand out and to attract repeat and new customers. People often prefer to talk to another human being who can relate to their needs, rather than a robot on a phone or a worker in a huge chain store who barely knows the company’s products.
Rather than being a disadvantage in a small business, this factor gives you a great opportunity to go that extra mile with your clients and to rise above the ordinary. There are a few steps involved in making this happen.
Tips for rising above the ordinary
* Provide a product or service that will really benefit people. Of course, to do this you will need to find out what that is, so you will need to start with some thorough market research.
* Find a way to be innovative and different from the run-of-the-mill average. This might involve adding extra value to your product or service, developing new products or services, or finding more customer-friendly ways of doing things in your business.
* Offer individualised service. This involves showing an interest in your customers, really listening to them to understand what it is they want and need, and doing all that you can to provide it. As a smaller business, you also have the opportunity to thank them individually for their custom through ‘thank-you’ emails or special offers.
* Do more than just ‘sell stuff’, but stand for something that people value. This might be the best value-for-money, excellent customer service, delivering on all promises, honesty, and trustworthiness, and so on.
* Consider using promotional tools and methods. For example this might include free samples or trials, no-charge for the first consultation, special discounts (such as 2-for-1), gifts, vouchers, loyalty cards, or special offers for successful referrals.
* Make it easy for your customers to purchase. For example, if you have an online purchasing option, make sure there are as few steps as possible involved in the buying process, and that web pages are easy to read and fast to load.
* Don’t scorn social media! Some business owners might think social media is a bit of a time waster. But social media is inexpensive or even free to participate in, and billions of people are on there every single day. Social media can give you a chance to engage with current and potential customers, to see what they really think and what they are interested in, answer their questions and complaints, and even to do a little market research. This could even lead to you discovering gaps in the market that you may be able to fill!
* If you have employees, make sure they are properly trained in all aspects of customer service, from greeting customers to closing sales and beyond. Create a documented customer relationship program that includes all the steps involved in customer service, and use it to train your staff.
* Make the most of the technology available. These days, with the proliferation of cloud computing services, you don’t always need to purchase expensive hardware. Cloud-based programs such as SalesForce (customer relationship system) and Xero (accounting) can be used to improve and enhance your services. Also, if you have a website, make sure it is user-centric, full of high-quality content, and that it provides your audience with a good experience of your business.
* Have some fun with what you do. The world is full of naysayers and doom-and-gloom prophets. Make your business a place of positivity and enjoyment and people will be more likely to want to come back. Hopefully they will bring their friends too – that would be awesome!
According to Virgin founder Richard Branson, who is after all one of the most successful business people around, there are no shortcuts or magic recipes for success. Rather, building a successful business takes a lot of time and involves your customers learning to trust you one-by-one.
Rather than feeling daunted by this, see it as an exciting challenge that is full of opportunity to stand out, and to provide benefits that people won’t find elsewhere.
And lastly, here is an inspirational quote from Branson that says it all: “Don’t think what’s the cheapest way to do it or what’s the fastest way to do it, think what’s the most amazing way to do it!”