The Small Business Challenge
What is this Primal Business Challenge?
Let me give you a hint:
It’s as old as the very idea of the “open-air market” where merchants would bring their wares to sell. “Open-air market” actually date back to thousands of years to the beginning of civilization. The ultimate business challenge that occupies many waking hours of business owners, today, as well, as the dawn civilization. It’s a driving force denoted by basic need and fear. It’s both a means-of-survival and a necessity for the growth of the business. And, without it you have no business or not for very long.
I am talking about the ability to acquire new customers and keep existing customers and have them returning to buy your stuff. The customer should be considered the asset of business. Without the customer, there is not business. The existing customer base that currently buys your products or services is a critical performance measurement that determines the health of the business and expected revenue. The worth of your business may be calculated by your customer base and annual revenue. The bigger the customer base the larger the potential value of your business. When you decide to cash-it in and retire by selling your business, it can be quite a nest egg. Your customer base will dictate the gross amount of revenue that can be achieved by return business, upsell and cross sell. Year-to-year expansion of the customer base will definitely grow the business revenue.
Sole Proprietor and Mom & Pop Business
When I think of my artist friend and mentor, Josef, about his opinion about getting customers to buy his paintings, I instantly know his strongly views against doing any kind of selling. However, Josef’s One-Man-Shows are a testimonial if you want to eat and buy paints and canvas. — You need to get customers to buy your stuff!
It’s an important chore you must initiate and be involved with from start to finish on a periodic basis. Yes, it’s a necessary evil that will take you away from the actual work you enjoy. But, every business owner must embrace and understand – it has to be done to generate the flow of revenue to stay in business.
Getting customers has always been a challenge that stands in the way of doing the real work that craftsmen, artists, tradesmen, freelancers, and consultants love and do to make a living. Too many small businesses struggle with efforts to get new customers. For many business owners, it has always been a mysterious game of hit or miss and a painful experience accompanied by worry. The challenge is compounded by bigger businesses with more resources that competing with you – it becomes the classic struggle of David versus Goliath. I believe (that despite competitive conditions are not in your favor), you as a sole proprietor, mom & pop or even a relatively small local business can still flourish against large established firms with over 20% market share. The reason you can flourish in one word is “Brand“.
The reason someone will buy from you is because they hold in their mind a concept about you and your business. This concept can be described as your Brand. Your Brand is the total experience of doing business with you and is composed of your reputation, confidence in you, trust in you, results you produce and a good feeling about you. It’s the customer’s perception of you that’s identified with your Brand. When they see your logo, business card, website, business name, invoice, an ad, sales flyer or even a picture of you — it’s your Brand image that’s perceived. In either a good, bad or indifference way of thinking.
For a small local business, essentially it boils down that you are your Brand. Brand development is an important aspect of you business that shouldn’t be overlooked. Many small business owner are completely oblivious about their brand. The best and most cost-effective way to develop and maintain your Brand is through your website. The marketplace is continuously changing. It requires the continuously task to refresh your website with compelling content that answers to the fundamental question, “Why should I buy from you instead of your competitor?”
The purpose of your website is to create Customer-Brand Relationships. This is a never-ending effort and a challenge for as long as you’re in business. I could write an entire book describing and recommending what to do to achieve a strong Brand relationship. But, it’s beyond the scope of this brief article.
Now, I ask the question again, What is this Primal Business Challenge? In the beginning we said the obviously answer is to acquire new customers and keep existing customers. To get those results that’s clearly about getting customers to “buy your stuff” means being focused on developing Customer-Brand Relationships as part of your Business Plan. Hence, the true primal business challenge is to create strong Customer-Brand Relationships and the care and feeding of those relationships.