Run your business as a business and not charity!

A few months ago, we were in a business class for creative entrepreneurs and we told the participant that they would need to raise their prices if they want to run a profitable business. They all looked downcast and this really puzzled me, so I probed a little and they told me they didn’t want to raise their prices so they won’t offend their customers!

For a lot of small business owners, their customers are like their friends and family but how many times have you gone into a fast food chain or a standard retail store and they have expresses sentiments about increasing their prices not to offend you? Especially when they face the risk at running at a loss and folding up if they do not.

I see a lot of SME’s struggling to survive and though I empathize with the challenges in the country and the economy, most of us are emotionally attached to our business and this hinders our ability to grow and move ahead. If you want to start taking your business more seriously, I advise you to ensure the following:

1. Detach yourself from your customers:
this is the first and most important step SME’s have to take. I know your family and friends are your loyal customers, but when it comes to your business, keep it as business! Charge them business rates, give them loyalty discounts, but don’t try to please them to the detriment of your business. Don’t spend too much time trying to please too few people, when you can spend that same time serving a lot more people.

2. Detach yourself from your products: you might make the best weaves, or creams, or cakes or teach the best classes, but make sure it is what your customers really need! Find ways to ask them what they want (so I am asking you; am I providing you information you need or what you will like me to write about? Please answer in the comment) and if you have a sizeable number of people asking for the same things, make that your product or service focus. Don’t just create what you like, create what they need and would pay for.

3. Focus on providing value: service delivery is very important to ensure that your customers are satisfied and keep coming back for more. I advise that you standardize your service delivery process. No matter how simple it is, let it be consistent so that your customer knows what to expect from you. Don’t say you service tea at your salon and then they drink tea day one and they come back again and you say there is no tea! Provide value and provide it consistently.

4. Charge for the value you provide: once you have established the value you would be providing, charge for the value and communicate clearly what you will be charging. Have you ever gone to a top fast food restaurant that said; we don’t know how much the burgers would be, we are thinking of charging X amount? No way, they spell it our clearly and you buy it for what they charge. This should be the same for your business. Spell out clearly what you are charging and if people can’t afford it, they can buy something else or simply go away. If some people can’t buy the burger, they can decide to buy an ice cream cone, if they can’t afford the ice cream cone also, they will leave the queue for the next person to buy!

5. Show up in your business:
I know your business is your ‘baby’ or passion or life dream, but please don’t treat your business with such sentiment. Don’t withdraw when things are not going well, don’t abandon it because it’s not yet giving you the returns you want. The oil the greases the wheels of your business is persistence and consistency. Once you have committed to this business, commit to showing up consistently, get the knowledge you need to make necessary changes so that you can get results.

Stop treating your business like a charity and if you are serious about growing your business, you can also check out this information: ‘Are you a dreamer’

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