I recently read a blog post on smalbiztrends.com that really sparked an interest for me. The original blog was written in 2008 and asked small business owners to comment what they, and their business really needs or wants. It was quite remarkable to spend time reading these comments and identifying how relevant they still are today.
If you remember back in 2008, the US was going through the biggest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. This was a difficult time, especially for small businesses as many people saw their jobs and investments going up in smoke. For me personally, I had just dropped out of college and moved back home to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life. The future was ahead of me when the economy imploded. My dad was laid off from his well-paying job – that he had had for over 15 years. My family was facing lean times like we had never seen before. So, what did my dad do? He went into business for himself. Crazy, I know. But ultimately successful.
Small businesses have been around for a long time and have made up the backbone of our economy since the first money was printed. Even Apple started in a garage. I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of the wants I read about in the Small Business Trends article and show how they still relate to small businesses 12 years later.
Before we discuss all the things that small businesses do want, let’s talk about what small businesses don’t want. First, they don’t want to be jumping through hoops to work with a new vendor or even worse, a vendor whom they have previously conducted business. Don’t offer a Small Business credit card with all sorts of perks, but then make them fill out a bunch of forms and wait months to dispute a charge. Don’t offer a service at one price and then implement excessive fees that increase the total cost above a reasonable price. Don’t sucker them into contracts with auto-renewals, or fees that begin after the first year without proper notifications about these contingencies.
Even today, many large companies still see small businesses as prey who they can make a lot of money off of. A lot of small businesses do not have the funds for a legal team or the time and resources to read all of the small print in huge legal contracts. Think about the last time you upgraded your phone, did you read all of the terms and conditions that came with that upgrade? Probably not. And who can blame you, they are purposely written to be difficult to understand without a legal degree. This gives the large corporation all of the leverage in any kid of legal dispute. That is, if the individual or business has the funds to pursue any form of legal action.
So, what do small businesses want? First and foremost, they want to be treated with the same respect and courtesy that large businesses are given, but with the additional caveat that they do not have the same resources as these large enterprises. They need vendors that are willing to bend the rules a little bit in an effort to not lose a customer over a small issue or mistake. Large businesses often do not fall prey to technicalities and small fees, because the vendor doesn’t want to lose their business. But why do these vendors not extend the same courtesy to small businesses? Why is their business considered less valuable? This is a business trend that ultimately needs to end.
Proprietors of small businesses want vendors that take the time to listen to what the business wants or needs, analyze the issue, solve it, and repeat the process. Most importantly, they want the vendor to keep in contact with the small business without having to chase them down. Time is the most valuable resource we all have, especially for a small business owner. Don’t waste time by not being available or making it difficult for a client to reach you. It all comes down to respect, respect for the business, respect for their time, respect for their resources.
Small businesses offer great value to an industry, geographical location, and the economy as a whole. Many small businesses work on word-of-mouth advertising, and they rely on a network of other small businesses that work together to create success for each other. Together each recommendation can make everyone better. We should be partners, consultants, and allies. Small businesses have the great power to unite together and to give each other a leg up by supporting each other. As fellow small businesses we understand the great constraints our cohorts are facing, and it is our responsibility to respect that and work together to make conditions easier for both parties.
I’ve included the link to the original article, if you would like to check it out, and all the comments from real small businesses owners. https://smallbiztrends.com/2008/12/what-do-small-businesses-want.html