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Many will tell us that “I only buy the best value for money items”, but that’s only one value that your business must deliver.

We all know that you need to deliver good value for your customer’s money. For them to keep coming back they need to believe that you are good to do business with. Let’s call that Customer Value.

To be sustainable (which just means being able to stay in business) you also need to deliver value for your business. In short – that means to operate at a profit. Giving things away or selling under cost (including cost of operation) means you either have a hobby where you donate the things you produce or you have a charity that charges only a token fee. Both of those are excellent ideals unless it is supposed to be a business.

You also need to deliver value to the people in business with you. That’s not your co-owners, they are covered in the previous point – this means the company that delivers your products, your ISP, your utility company, the people who supply your raw materials. You can’t be in business if nobody delivers your product (or drives your consultants to their appointments). You can’t be in business without a phone and some internet presence. To make use of these facilities you need to provide a fair reward for your supplier. If you don’t, and you squeeze them all out then eventually there won’t be anyone left who will supply your company with what it needs, and that in turn means your company jus stopped.

Most businesses started of with someone else’s money. making the distinction that there is you and there is your business, it may well be that the OPM is yours, but ether way that establishment loan must be able to be paid back (and actually paid back) in addition to making a sufficient profit to operate the business and pay wages and so on. The point is: if you can’t operate at a profit plus pay back your investor then nobody will lend you the money to get started in the first place. If the risk is too high for someone else then it is also too high for you! Factor in repayments to your investor, then look forward to a kind of windfall profit once the loan is repaid.

Your business must operate in a predictable manner – both your staff and your customers like to know what to expect when they do business with you. That means you must have agreed ways to do things, otherwise known as ‘Systems’. By the way – that doesn’t mean that your system needs to smother¬†your staff in paperwork, stifle their creativity, or make it impossible for customers to figure out how to buy from you (I know some businesses where the customer needs to know how the business works in order to identify who they should be talking to). It does mean that your systems must add value to your business and your customer.

People today have a wide choice in who to do business with – many geographic boundaries that used to protect a business are fading and even disappearing altogether. To succeed you must demonstrate your capability before¬†someone will buy form you, and you need to demonstrate your ethics, your honesty, your personal values. Most people – including you – usually buy from those they know, like and trust. You have to get to know your customers, allow them to get to know you, be likeable and behave in a way that deserves their trust. One way of doing that is to have a ’cause’ that you support, and let people find out about it. It works best if the cause relates to your business: an Optometrist might support cataract surgery for under privileged people, a car dealer might provide a bicycle for a remote student for each car sold, a restaurant might provide a meal for an under privileged person for each meal sold and so on. That demonstrates your values to your target market, and it is another way to differentiate yourself. By delivering Social Value you stand out from the crowd.

There is no point having the very best widgets on the planet if nobody knows. You have to tell people that you have the best so they can make the decision to buy (By the way: when does your customer decide to buy? No, it isn’t just after your brilliant presentation, they decided to buy before they walked into your premises. The decision was why they walked in. All you did was convince them to buy from you. That’s another reason you need to see your business from your customer’s perspective – and deliver every value listed here). You have to be able to successfully communicate your message to your target market. That’s Communication Value, and without it you will be the best kept secret in your industry.

Finally: nobody likes to buy from someone who may not stay in business long enough to cover the warranty period on the items they just bought! You have to present an image that convinces people that you will be here for as long as they need you to be. You do that by being professional and courteous, by keeping your premises clean and tidy, by demonstrating your ethics and that you care about them. If potential customers believe that you might leave town next weekend then very few will want to deal with you. I call this Future Value.

How many of the eight values do you currently demonstrate? How easy is it for you to develop the others? (It’s not difficult, and we’ll cover this in another post).

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