Business Principles During a Pandemic
March 25, 2020
It is difficult enough to maintain and grow a small business or SME during good economic times much less during a global pandemic. The hard, diligent work that was needed before is doubly important during these stressful and trying times. Owners, however, that don’t place a high priority on employees and customers quite possibly can doom their businesses to failure.
Since business failures are not discriminatory, mature, stable businesses or new startups can experience the same grim future when not operated properly. Plans and marketing campaigns can be quickly overshadowed when basic business fundamentals are not practiced.
It is especially important during the current global crisis for business owners to not lose sight of the end goal...recover and build a strong foundation leading to future, long-term success. Most business owners know (or should know) some of the basic principles needed to create forward momentum but often forget these during challenging times. Concentrate on the following to help ensure business profitability now and for the future.
Always Remember Who Comes First – The Customer!
Unfortunately, during times of stress and economic hardships, many businesses treat customers not as a necessity but more of nuisance interfering with all of their daily responsibilities. Often times, customers seem to take an inferior role both with the business and employees. Rather than being treated as the lifeline of a business, customers are instead viewed as obstacles, problems, interruptions, or inconveniences that impede business.
As a small business or SME owner, reflect upon businesses that have been highly successful and enjoy great reputations. What have they done in the past (and still doing) that puts them ahead of their competitors? Why have they achieved (and still achieving) a certain amount of success when similar businesses do not seem to be able to compete on the same level? One reason, perhaps, is that customers are treated as if they are the lifeline of the business.
Provide Superior Products and Services –Everyone Will Notice!
While some businesses seem to feel that "cutting corners" and providing customers with inferior products and services will add a few extra numbers to the bottom line, customer astuteness eventually wins out. Since customers seek value in addition to satisfying needs and receiving benefits for the money they spend, a business that skimps on quality hoping that customers will never notice eventually discovers that purchasers are skilled in knowing what they should receive for money paid.
Businesses do not compete with every business selling similar products and services, but they do compete with other businesses offering like-kind of products and services. This means that luxury cars compete with other makers of luxury cars but do not necessarily compete with manufacturers of compact economy cars. Likewise, name brand fashion merchandise is in competition with other name brands but not necessarily in competition with low-priced merchandise normally sold in big box discount stores. Regardless of products or services sold, businesses must strive to offer the "best in its class." When inferior products or services are sold, customers notice.
Employees Are Essential to Business Success – Treat Them with Respect!
Although employees can be replaced, treating them with disrespect carries over to customers and colleagues. When bad attitudes prevail internally, they are typically projected externally, as well. When employees think they may be fired or laid off, it's difficult to have a positive attitude about a job and customers. Without owners ever knowing, employees can turn away business by how they interact with customers. Businesses need customers more than customers need a business; therefore, customers want an energetic, positive response when dealing with a business and its employees. Even during this global time of uncertainty when a business might not have a choice regarding furloughing some employees, it is important to keep spirits as high as possible letting employees know that the business will do as much as possible for them...in turn, employees will do as much as possible for the business.
Run an Efficient Operation – It Pays Off!
Owning a small business or SME is much more than simply not having to work for someone else. If that’s the attitude, the business will probably operate inefficiently rather than efficiently. Success in a small business or SME is not just “keeping the doors open.” In fact, this type of philosophy can very easily lead to the doors eventually closing.
Operating a successful business with long-term prospects for the future requires diligence and knowledge not only in one area of a business but in all aspects of business operations. A successful marketing campaign as an example cannot produce outstanding results in revenue when products are not available, contracts are not finalized, or customers not accommodated. Likewise, a business cannot be profitable if expenses are not contained even though revenue is on target.
Operating a successful business is having all of the pieces of a puzzle fit together. When one segment of the business (or piece of the puzzle) is out of alignment, then every other aspect of the business equally becomes unaligned. Operating a highly efficient business should be the goal of every owner during both good times and bad times.