I was supposed to present this piece somewhere but time caught up with me and I was given the boot. I guess this is a better forum for those who are keen and interested. The suggestions are not cast on stone, neither are they well researched but they may give you a head start in your quest to grow that business venture which is in your mind awaiting execution, or in the life of the venture (remember the life cycle of a business?)
It is every businessman’s dream to see his/her business grow and sustain itself beyond all the challenges in the market. Forget the grand IPOs, acquisitions, takeovers and mergers, these simple acts will make your business a darling to many customers and ensure you gain the necessary mileage; greed aside. Here below are some of the smart ways to achieve this dream;
a) Efficient and Friendly Customer Service
It is the customer who determines how far or how long you stay in the business, and any customer who is frustrated by the services will look for an alternative; usually your major competitor. Growing the customer base is crucial if the business is to expand. Take care of your customers and they will bring more customers and (or) increase their purchases which propel the turnover upwards and eventually your business will grow and expand.
Ever gone to a restaurant then the waiter(s) just ignore you – maybe because they did not like the way your nose is fixed on your face, or that you do not dangle a car key, or that you didn’t look rich, or any other reason (or is it excuse/judgement) well known to the waiter? Well, you feel frustrated and not only swear never to step in that restaurant but you would caution your friends against going there; notwithstanding the quality of food/drinks served. And that’s how customers are lost.
Customer service here includes the after-sales services for instance honoring warrants when the customer brings the products back for repairs and maintenance. This acts as a confidence booster to both customers and would-be customers who will eventually join the list of customers in the near future.
b) Quality Products/Services
The business should endeavor to produce quality products and services for the market. Customers will shun and indeed desist from buying low quality products or services even if the price is the lowest in the market. Usually quality products/services are pricy but this will not deter customers from buying them and in the long run the business will attract the numbers to guarantee its expansion.
The greedy businessmen are now riding on the adage ‘Cheap is Expensive’ to produce low quality products then sell them at very expensive prices. To the customer, they look more genuine than the real thing. But this will only work in the short-run, meanwhile you will not only lose the business but also face legal charges in the future, exhaust all your savings and sell off the investments you had accumulated. And yes, be humiliated in the process – there is nothing interesting in ‘enjoying’ your retirement in the corridors of justice or in jail.
c) Competitive Pricing
This entails thorough research on the intended market niche for the products or services by any business. The price should be affordable yet it should not be too low to make the business run at a loss. On the other hand, if the price is too high the customers will purchase from the nearest competitor.
Again, it is important to understand your target customers and the kind of goods/services they need. Think about those out-of-reach cars only meant for billionaires (in USD). So if your customers can only afford a painting worth Kshs. 1,000 per piece, do not even dream of selling Da Vinci’s paintings to this group – they will not afford. Should have talked about clothes; who buys paintings in Kenya? But you get the picture right?
d) Technological advances
Technology keeps on changing and the business has to keep abreast with this. The products and services the business offers should be in line with the technology prevailing in the market. This will ensure the customers are not lost. The business should aim at innovations into new products/services in order to attract more customers hence guaranteeing expansion.
By investing in new technology, the business is able to bring forth unique products/services into the market. Being the only producer of such, the whole market is open and the opportunities are huge both in the short run and in the long run. Think about how the internet has brought in many opportunities and appreciate the power of technology; and innovations.
e) Attracting and Maintaining the Best Employees
Employees are the oil which keeps the wheels of the business moving smoothly. A dedicated work force is able to accomplish what demotivated staff will never achieve. The best workforce will not only work hard but also smart, bring forth the best products/services in the market and attract more customers. Fraud in the business will also be minimized and revenues will be well accounted for. This will see the business grow and expand now that no penny is lost through fraudulent ways.
If you employ someone then decide to give him/her peanuts, then expect two things, no, three: stealing of company assets, unsatisfactory work or resignation. This affects the business negatively one way or another. You only need to motivate your employees to uplift their morale and hence their productivity. And then most importantly you also need to separate ownership from management if you want to escape from many wrangles in the future – more so when the business starts its expansion drive and the cashflow becomes fatter and fatter. We have seen some empires come tumbling down due to family wrangles.
f) Corporate Social Responsibility
‘The business of any business is to do business’ thus states Introduction to Business Management 101. While this is true, it is paramount to understand that the business depends on human beings in order to function. The business has to recognize the society around it.
Customers are attracted to businesses which are connected to the community where they are situated. A business that is conscious of the environment for instance will likely attract more customers than that which pollutes the surrounding area. Indeed the latter will receive condemnation from within and without the customers and its products/services will most likely lack customers to buy into.
So there you are. And while at it, practice and embrace patience. Thank me later.