3SP Success Factors for Small Businesses

The most common success factors for a small business are: Speed Smart Service Promises Speed – Act quickly. It’s simple, but powerful.  You can’t win the resource game. But, you can win by making decisions faster, adapting to changing markets quicker, and deploying your resources faster. Big companies have momentum — brand, customer base, assets, etc. Use momentum against them as things change.  Smart – Solve business problems with creative solutions. A neat way to do this,  create diverse teams. Another way is to think about problem solving as a skill on its own rather than an added bonus. If you’re customers see you as providing smart solutions, they’ll view you as a trusted advisor. Service – If you’re not getting thank you e-mails or fan mail you’re not doing a good enough job at service to make it a competitive advantage. Non-retail related tip: If your employees don’t know the answer to a question, teach them to say “I’ll look into it and will get back to you in 30 minutes.” Then, teach them to drop everything, and solve the problem. Wait, what if we can’t solve the problem in 30 minutes? No problem. Keep your promise. Get back to the customer with a more informed time frame, and let them know that you’ll keep them updated as you know more information. Promises – Make a promise to each and every customer, and keep it. Keeping promises builds trust.  The idea of promises — weather it be promotions, warranties or satisfaction guarantees, to name a few — is powerful, and simple. Leverage...

Being Available is Half the Battle

37Signals, developers of popular SaaS tools for small businesses and project teams, like Basecamp and Highrise, makes its CEO available for calls with customers for 4 hours each week. Play to your strengths, and do something your larger competitors "can't do". SMBs should take...

How to Handle Adversity

The Story "AirAsia said 31-year-old passenger Liew Siaw Hsia went into labour on Wednesday's flight from the northern island of Penang to Kuching on Borneo island. The aircraft made an emergency diversion to the Malaysian capital but the baby arrived just before landing, delivered by a doctor who was on board and who was assisted by the airline's flight attendants." Article Credit The Outcome The Mom and her newborn son received a lifetime of Free Flights from AirAsia. What a great move! It allowed AirAsia to gain positive press. The story was also picked up by the AP, which also mentioned the lifetime of free flights, albeit less prominently.  The story also got the number one spot on the Yahoo! homepage, which according to this article by Data Center Knowledge can drive upwards of one million pageviews. The Takeaway Handle adversity well, and make it a word of mouth...

5 Business Titles for the Future

In today's world of time-strapped employees, it's important to keep the focus on customers — not on internal rules, processes and bull shit that gets in the way of productive interactions. CSO – Common Sense Officer – The go-to person to act rationally, solve problems and work without regard for company policy. Isn't assigned to one department and knows the business better than anyone.  She may be a semi-retired industry veteran with a hatred for corporate policy and love for the industry and efficiency. ICA – Important Customer Advisor – The person assigned to your most influential accounts that advises them on which products to purchase, how to purchase (finance, lease, purchase) and how to implement the products? This person gets paid handsomely, not on commission, to make sure these customers keep doing business with you. Director of Customer Experience – A person who proactively seeks out areas where customers get screwed — hidden fees, fine print, non-transparency, poor design, etc. This person is judged by how many complaints vs. how many positive reviews the company receives. NetPromoter score also a key performance metric. Has a healthy budget and never-ending list of approvements. VP of Next Generation Customers – The person responsible for person who has a ridiculous budget to gain favor for the company and its products amongst students and children. Donations, Volunteering, Partnerships, Workshops, Giveaways and Sponsorships are order of the day. Frontline Reporter – The person responsible for collecting and relaying information about bad business practices to the CSO, CEO, COO and Director of Customer Experience. Similar to the CSO, but with less authority. The next...

You Get what you Support

Markets, and the businesses in those markets, are there for a reason. As soon as customers stop coming to businesses, the businesses are forced to adapt. Whether it's the way a business sells (direct, distributor, etc.), to where a business is located, your purchases today affect investments tomorrow. It challenging markets, customers have the power to make, break and shape the way a business operates. Choose wisely. You may be stuck with less than preferable options at the end of this cycle, because of the purchasing decisions you're making...