- Growth is coming from small business owners, solo professionals, and entrepreneurs rather than from giant conglomerate industries.
- Consumers are linked together via Internet and willingly share their happiness or discontent with a product or service they purchased.
- Almost half of consumers will go to the Internet to read reviews before purchase.
- Consumers are weary of policies that are inflexible, cold, and always to the benefit of the seller.
There are four key components of successful small businesses and solo professional in today's marketplace, and these are:
Transparency means that your customers want to know and understand how you do business, staight up, no hidden fees, no half-truths. What you sell and how you sell it need to be completely open and above-board. Some people, including Michael Port, whose newest book The Think Big Manifesto is a great primer for entrepreneurs and business onwers, call this radical transparency.
Authenticity has to do with honesty and being exactly what you say you are. If you design landscapes for residential properties you are honest about what you can do, what you can't do, and what your experience and training is in landscape design. You're the real deal.
Responsibility means being accountable for your actions with your customers. Promising one thing and delivering another doesn't happen. Not meeting a deadline doesn't happen. Mistakes are owned up to quickly and remedied quickly. You don't pass the buck to someone else. This characteristic can get your business a long way, for the average consumer does not believe that large businesses are responsible much at all. Demonstrating responsibility will automatically attract business your way.
Reputation is the golden egg for a small business owner. Your customers want to know, like, and trust you before they do busines with you. They will have heard about you, for good or for ill, and it will stick. You can build a reputation over time and you can destroy it quickly. Given a choice between two equally attractive purchases, consumers will give the business with the better reputation the edge.
Think about your own business and how you would score on these four keys. These characteristics are critical for small businesses, keys to your surviving and thriving.
(C) Sue Painter