In the shark filled waters of the 21st century business environment, a pilot fish – small business can glean reasonable profits from the failures of multi-billion dollar corporations. Most businesses fail to bloom due to misdirected focuses. After interviewing many business professionals over the last 27 years, I have learned that a high percentage of them are blind to the nature of their own business.
When asked what their biggest asset is they will respond with inventory, plant and equipment, and occasionally say their employees. A rare one in a hundred will say their customers. Yet without customers, they would not be in business. If you ask their prime objective, most will say it is to maximize profits for their investors. Rarely will an answer be that it is to provide the very best service/product at the most reasonable price possible to their customers.
Prime examples are the satellite TV companies. They cater primarily to their suppliers and stockholders. Customers are forced to take at least a basic package that includes what the suppliers want to provide. Viewers pay twice, through subscription and through the passed along costs of advertisements. The customer oriented business would provide the channels the consumer wants on an individual basis at a nominal fee per channel.
Banks are another long standing, notoriously profit driven business. Their customers had, at least historically, very few options, luckily that is now changing rapidly. Fees and charges, a hundred times what they cost the bank, are imposed upon some of their best customers. A few years ago legislation was aimed to curtail check-cashing businesses that charged astronomically high fees to cash a two hundred dollar check. But bank ATM transaction fees are routinely as high, with only a few occasional customer complaints.
A solid long range planning business will focus on its customers first. How to provide the highest quality product at the most reasonable price should be the primary objective of any business. Next a strategy to market and grow customer bases should be continually developed; you cannot be lax in this area if you want to succeed. Distribution of your product/service must be another top priority. Get the product to your customers as quickly, safely and cheaply as possible. Your employees are a top asset, second only to customers. Profit is your goal; all objectives should feed toward it, but not be driven by it.