‘Ask not what your Customer can do for you, ask what you can do for your Customer.’
According to those who know their business numbers, of the 4.5 million small businesses in the UK, around 50% will fail to make it past year 1, while 90% will cease trading within the next few years. Many of these will be promising businesses with a niche market, excellent early sales, and a small but committed team ready and willing to work ever harder for success.
So what goes wrong?
What happens within these 4 million-plus boutique businesses that strangles their growth, when 450,000 others successfully avoid the pitfalls to become growing and profitable enterprises?
Well, natural disasters do happen, investors do pull out, and margins can certainly dwindle but more often than not it is the usual suspect – self sabotage which is the cause of business demise. Like the 7 deadly sins, so many of us just seem unable to avoid it, and are sadly oblivious to the harm it is doing to our business until it’s way too late.
One of the best ways to sabotage your own business is to spend no time at all getting to know who your customers really are and understanding what makes them tick; what motivates them.
The most successful businesses big and small know their customers intimately, and have them at the centre of every decision, every service change, every new product. Companies like Virgin, Disney, Apple and more recently Metro Bank, were all founded on the belief that the customer’s experience is everything, and they do what they need to do, to make that experience, not only the best it can be, but special.
In a small business it’s too easy to get so tied up in the day to day of business survival, that you focus only on your side of the equation:
- What do we want to sell to our customers?
- How are we going to tell them what we have?
- Where will we sell our products?
- How do we want them to pay us?
We really need to turn this right on its head and ask what our customers want from us:
- What need are we satisfying?
- What problem are we solving?
- Are we selling the right products and services to meet their need?
- Are we where they need us to be, on the internet, on the high street?
- How can we make it easy for them to do business with us?
Closely following on in the self-sabotage stakes is not having systems in your business. Systems that give you consistent service excellence and put the customer at the heart of everything you do. Once you establish what the customer wants and when and how and where you need to plot their ‘journey’ through your business.
This is usually a lightbulb moment when we work with clients who are so drowning in the day to day that it may be the first time they’ve looked at their business with helicopter vision. Plotting the journey as it is, rather than how we wish it was, can be mind -blowing as they discover the how the customer meanders illogically through your business, losing momentum and becoming disillusioned and confused as they go.
Blocks, deviations, gaps, over-complication, daft rules or policies that have sprung up over time like weeds all become apparent. Step inside their shoes, into their thought process, and design your offer around them. And from this seeming chaos comes a new customer-friendly route. A breath of fresh air for you AND your customers. Make sure that you review the customer’s position at least annually, if you’re to keep up with their changing needs.
The customer journey is the first step in systemising your business. It ensures that you then start to establish systems for the simple, streamlined, Customer-centric business your clients will love. And as your reputation and business grow, so your systems are in place to scale, franchise or sell. Great systems will take care of the present and are the key to your future.
Do one thing: think about the benefits of systemising and then try and identify what’s holding you back.
Our Systems4Scale Bootcamp will start you on your journey! You can read our brochure here
Upcoming dates 13th & 14th June 2018 | 5th & 6th September 2018