Peak Small Business Newsletter
Year 2003, Issue 21
In this issue:
Quote of the Week
Featured Resource -
CyberAtlas at Internet.com
Featured Article - Creating the New
Resources We Recommend
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Quote of the Week
We all move on the fringes of eternity and are sometimes
granted vistas through the fabric of illusion.
- Ansel Adams
CyberAtlas at Internet.com
"The World's Leading Resource
for Internet Trends & Internet Statistics"
The tag line says it all! A good source
for finding out what's going on online.
Creating the New
by: Cary Christian
Let's imagine for a moment that our world was
different in the following ways:
1. When you meet someone new,
they are more interested in what they can do for you than in what you can do
for them. Doing something for someone else is considered the highest
level in the hierarchy of life.
2. The overriding principle in
life is spending everything you can get your hands on for the sole purpose
of making other people's lives better. Of course, everyone else is
doing the same, so no one is ever in need of anything. If someone is
in need, people rush to be the first to eliminate that need.
3. Corporations have a real
corporate conscience. Shareholders are more interested in how much the
corporation does for the community than in profits. After all, the
corporation's contributions back into the community enriches the
shareholders lives and, in accordance with item 2, any dividends distributed
to the shareholders are just going to be given to someone else with a
greater need anyway.
4. There is no need for bloated
governments. Government is necessary only to function as a central
means of providing and administering services to make everyone's life
5. People are recognized for what
they give and do for others, not by how much money they have amassed.
6. You would not have to worry
about security in any way, shape or form. If someone hacked into your
computer, it would be to fix it not trash it. If someone gained access
to your banking accounts, it would be to replenish them with cash, not take
If you think about this for awhile, you'll
recognize that most of the problems of daily life would disappear if the
changes described above became reality. Each of the six changes
described are nothing more than an application of the "Golden Rule" so there
is nothing really new there. It's a blueprint for life that has
existed for centuries. Of course, given human nature it's a
description of a utopian society that could never exist.
But there are people who live their individual
lives in just such a manner. They give to others until it hurts, yet
they never seem to want for anything. They will tell you that the more
they give the more they get in return. It becomes a never-ending
circle in which they continually try to give away what they have but can
never keep up with what's coming in.
So just what does all this have to do with
Okay, I'm not naive enough to tell you that
you should forget about making profits and just run your business for the
purpose of giving away everything you earn. That only works if
EVERYONE else is doing the same thing. Not going to happen.
It's just that sometimes you need to think in extremes to find the
appropriate middle ground. So how can you apply some of these
principles to make your business stronger?
People are naturally a little suspicious of
businesses. Especially online businesses. The perception of
businesses in general is that they are run by people who are greedy and care
little for the welfare of their customers.
Employees often feel the same way about the
companies they work for. Their attitude is often grounded in their
belief that the company has loyalty only for profits and none for them.
They are expendable and the moment it becomes more profitable to let them go
than keep them around, they are gone.
Fiascos like Enron, WorldCom, and a host of
others in the last year or so have only served to heighten suspicion on the
part of both customers and employees.
The lifeblood of any business is its
reputation among its customers and its employees. To survive and
prosper, the business must strive to build its reputation with both groups
of people. This is where some of these "utopian" concepts come into
A good, motivated employee is worth his or her
weight in gold to your business. They are the face and the voice that
customers and vendors see and hear. Customers and vendors will develop
their view of your company by what they observe in your employees. It
is important that they observe an individual who is professional, caring and
willing to go the extra mile to serve them. They will only observe
this if the employee actually does care.
To make that employee care, you have to make
them feel like they matter to you. You may not be able to give them
the highest salaries or provide them with the most expensive benefits, but
you can provide them with a sense that you do care about their welfare.
Here are a few general ways you can accomplish this:
1. Do everything in your power to
pay your employees what their work is worth to your company. Make them
understand that as the company prospers, they will prosper. This makes
them a partner in profitability. Likewise, if the company is not
prospering, make sure you bear your share of that burden as well. If
you're paying them substandard wages yet driving a brand new Mercedes to
work, you're going to instill resentment. If you have to accept less
personally to pay them what they're worth, do so. You'll be building
an asset that will pay you back ten-fold.
2. Get them the the tools and
training they need to do their job. Nothing is more demoralizing than
trying to do your best work, having heavy responsibilities, but feeling like
you're trying to mine gold with tea spoons.
3. If you can't afford the best
of employee benefits, provide what you can and make the effort to introduce
new inexpensive benefits every chance you get. If you can't upgrade to
the next best level of health insurance coverage just yet, provide them with
some low cost term life insurance. Liberalize your vacation policies
by adding an extra day or two. Let them purchase the products you sell
at cost, or even below cost to add a little extra benefit. Find ways
to provide value without destroying the bottom line. They're out there
if you're creative enough.
4. Most importantly, always show
your employees that you are on their side. Be as loyal to them as you
want them to be to you. Be there when they need you. Stand up
for them when they are challenged.
Customers are seeking one thing from you: a
solution to a problem they have. Your products provide those
solutions. However, unless you operate in a really small niche, you
have plenty of competition from other companies selling solutions to those
same problems. How do you set yourself apart?
Customers want to receive value for the money
they spend. Value includes not only the product they purchase but the
service you provide with the product. You attract and keep customers
by providing the best value for the dollar in terms of both product and
Value does NOT mean the cheapest price
for the product. In fact, you may be the most expensive option for
purchasing the product. But if the service you add makes it worth the
extra money to purchase from you, they will. How do you add such
value? Go back to the golden rule and our utopian society above.
1. Every customer must feel like
they are important to you. This should be easy since each one IS
so important to you. The lifetime value of a customer is enormous so
treat each one like the tremendous asset they are. Your dealings with
customers should be courteous and professional, of course, but you should
train your employees to go that extra mile and help them with the problems
they have. Your employees should be able to discuss how the product
can be used, which model of the product will work best given their specific
needs, and what other products or services the customer might need to solve
Of course, if your employees determine while
talking with the customer that your product will not meet their needs, they
need to tell them that also. And take it a step further: train your
employees to know where the customer can go to find the product they need,
even if you have to send them to a competitor! Remember, you
have to care more about their needs than your own.
2. Never make it difficult for a
customer to return a product or obtain a refund. Give them the same
courteous, professional treatment you gave them when you made the sale.
Make the process easy and fast. You did not have to wait for your
money when you made the sale, so don't make them wait for the refund.
Use the refund process to build your relationship with this customer.
It's a perfect time to build trust. If they see honesty in your
dealings with them when you are the one shelling out the dough, they'll be
far more likely to buy from you in the future.
3. Give your customers value all
year long. Sign them up to receive notices of your special sales.
Include lots of specialized content on your website to teach them how to use
your products. Give them the opportunity to submit questions to you
via your website and make sure they are answered promptly. Develop as
much interaction through as many communications mediums as you can.
Have customer loyalty sales! Show them you care by allowing repetitive
customers to get special deals once a year.
We'll likely never see a utopia where homeless
people are replaced on the roadside by wealthy people who haven't been able
to give away enough money carrying signs saying "Cash to anyone who needs
it." But we can create our own utopias within our individual
businesses for the benefit of our employees and customers. Like those
who say they can never give more than they get, the rewards could be
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