How to operate a small business successfully and delight your customers

Anyone who has ever started a small business knows it takes a lot of time, hard work, and energy to run a small business successfully.  These requirements are simply just the cost of doing business in an environment that is so highly competitive. The small businesses that are truly great seem to put in more effort without cutting corners and they don’t realize that everyone can tell what their strategy is.

Entrepreneurs all want to see great results, but if they focus on doing the least amount of work for the most amount of money possible, they are doomed to a grim failure.  Larger companies such as Apple and Tesla that focus on making great products that are obviously crafted with care and passion are the ones that dominate the industry because everyone wants to work with a company that cares about them.

The ability of a company to craft an amazing product, sell it for a premium price, and delight their customers is a true mix of both art and science.  It seems like there are too many businesses that simply can’t get the mix of quality and price to jive in that middle ground of excellence, but I will say it’s a truly beautiful thing when you find one that does.

I had the pleasure of working with a company that demonstrated all of these qualities and absolutely amazed me recently, and I must say – it was incredibly refreshing.  After comparing nearly a dozen high quality business card suppliers, I decided a try despite the higher cost of their product compared to the others, and I’m glad I did.  From start to finish, they were one of the most pleasant companies I’ve ever worked with – and the real magic was how happy I was when I received my order.

As I unpacked my order, I realized there were many potential corners they could have cut to make an extra dime, but instead they chose to put quality effort into their services at every point.  This not only made me appreciate the product more, but it made me feel like they actually care to provide a premium product for the premium price – and they focus on all the details.

I read a lot of work by Michael Porter, who is my favorite business theorist of all time and one of his primary philosophies deals with creating a competitive advantage.  Most businesses think competitive advantage in a very shallow manor. According to Porter, competitive advantage is directly related to a company’s ability to make a larger profit then their competition by either commanding a premium price, operating at a lower cost or BOTH.  

They put in the effort, and for that they showed me that they are able to get the results I’m looking for, they provided nothing but the highest level of service, and they showed me I can trust them.  If a company can do this over and over, they will ultimately build a great reputation as has done.

Now it’s your turn – try to think about how your customers feel in regards to the products and services you sell.  Do you absolutely delight your customers from start to finish or do you cut as many corners as you can to save time and expenses?  What are some of the ways you can create a true competitive advantage by operating at a lower cost or commanding a higher price while not sacrificing on quality or customer experience?

There are so many factors that make a small business successful – what are some of the strategies that you have found to delight your customers and make a profit?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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