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April 25, 2014 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Michael Lambert, Wyoming Market Research Center manager
“I’m starting my business. What are some things I need to know?” Amber, Moorcroft
There are plenty of things that you should learn and know before your start your business.
I’ll start by saying that you should get the best advice from the most knowledgeable people you know. Pick the brains of successful business people, take classes, read, and think about visiting with your local Small Business Development Center representative. These folks, who I work with every day, are true experts at helping you learn and understand things you will need to succeed. Get in touch with them at www.WyEn.biz.
I read a lot, and one of my new favorite writers is Ash Ambirge. She writes a blog in a pretty irreverent and refreshing style, and has a list of “10 Uncommon Truths Every Business Owner Should Know.” It can be found at www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/4324345-10-uncommon-truths-every-business-owner-should-know.
Here are some other tips:
-- Customers don’t mind complications, but only if they genuinely think you’re doing your best. If your staff looks and acts like they don’t want to be there, then why should customers want to shop there? You are doing your customer a favor, and they are doing you one by making it possible for you to stay in business.
-- The customer may not always be right -- but, guess what, they don’t have to be. Never forget that it’s the customer who pays the bills. Do what it takes to build good will.
-- Smiles are your greatest business asset. If you aren’t smiling, why not? If you can keep a genuine, friendly smile on your face -- and on the faces of your staff -- then good things rub off. It’s hard to be grumpy when a smiling staffer is doing his or her best to help. Smiles help customers leave with a positive feeling, and they will come back.
-- People buy the experience you provide as much as they buy the product. Most businesses have competition. In many cases, the competition offers similar goods or services. Provide atmosphere, service and do everything you can to make shopping with you a memorable experience. Customers will pay a premium for a better experience. Figure out how to deliver a more satisfying experience and then make it happen.
-- Don’t pay attention to what people want; pay attention to what people buy. If everyone loves your hot pink motorcycle seats, great. How many do you really sell? Keep your eye on what actually works with customers, and find items like it.
-- You have two choices: Sell a lot of cheap ice cream to a lot of people who will never be back, or sell a little bit of better ice cream to fewer people who will come again and again. This is called the commodity trap. When you compete on price only, then there is always someone coming along to push the price down. It is much better to be unique, in product or service. You will make more money and have less stress.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://wyen.biz/blog1/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.