Advantages are synonymous with differentiation, or being different.
Having advantages in business means that you have the upper hand, or better reasons to be chosen.
This is most typically applied to the marketing efforts of a company but is really so much more than just that. It extends into all areas – marketing of course, operations, people, and financial.
It’s only a matter of when customers come back after the matter of IF they will come back.
Living by default is a very precarious way of doing business. Thinking that your business is more convenient, better than the rest, has cheaper prices, is more friendly, or has the best selection is living by default.
First a little Multiple Choice test:
Do you feel taken for granted when you shop in a store or do business with a company?
a. ___ Never
b. ___ Occasionally
c. ___ Sometimes
d. ___ Often
That’s a fair question and one your customer asks themselves (at least subconsciously) when they complete every transaction with us. The trouble is that customers don’t WANT to choose where they do business by default. They choose based on the best available choice they know of. It’s a matter of “What have you done for me lately?”
Yes, much worse than finding a 60-Minutes crew in your office is finding the repair van for your Internet company there. It’s even worse if it is the busiest day of your year and over 75 percent of your customers pay with a credit or debit card.
Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, but they do let them operate their business without an Internet backup plan. You have to take care of this one yourself.
Fortunately, today we have the resources to conduct business from almost anywhere at almost any time – as long as there is a high speed Internet connection. This means we’re no better off trying to do business in our own place of business than we are on top of Mount Everest if the Internet is down.
When I walk through a business I visualize one-hundred dollar bills fluttering all about. They are as real as real money to me. They are the hundreds and thousands of dollars of opportunity cost I see in a business.
Have you been to a mall or trade show where someone is offered the opportunity to step inside a phone booth size acrylic box that has money swirling around them. There are mostly one dollar bills blowing around along with one or two, maybe a few really big bills to increase the excitement. How much cash can they grab out of the air in 60-seconds?
The best the person who is fortunate enough to get in the booth can do is grab a few bills. They almost never catch the big bills because they can't pick them out from the little ones while they're flying about.
Money that is not gotten while the getting is good – when there are live customers trying to exchange their money for your goods or services represents lost opportunity.
Maybe you've noticed that the best companies not only have the best products but also the best people, who continually develop the best processes for developing and bringing them to market?
Is the development of practices and processes in your small business the result of trial and error, often resisted by your people and the cause of pain and suffering?
Inconsistent and low profits, concern about the future of the business, and family stress are often blamed for business problems. in reality these are symptoms of more systemic problems, and they can be fixed.
OPEN LETTER to the Garden Industry
This is my second annual letter to the garden industry from the viewpoint of a consultant specializing in the business side of independently owned local small business.
Many of you have probably been thinking about the items discussed in this letter. You will soon know what I've been thinking and all of us are looking forward to hearing your points of agreement and disagreement as this continues.