Are You In Business For Yourself or Your Customers?


Recently, I’ve listened to small business owners complain that their businesses are suffering. They site that people aren’t buying from them. Honestly, living in a small town, I often wonder sometimes if businesses are really setting themselves up for success.

Most people think of entrepreneurship as working for yourself. But if that’s your philosophy, your business isn’t going far at all. You see, without the customer, you don’t really have a business. What you have is a hobby;something you enjoy doing with or without money.  The most successful businesses are those who cater to their customers’ schedules and not expect their customers to adjust their lives to fit their schedules. 

I’m sure many business owners will cringe when they consider the fact that if you’re not willing to cater to your customer, there will always be someone who will. Prime example, in most small towns it’s typical to see the businesses located around the town square run business hours of 8am to 5pm.  In most of these towns, many business owners complain that people don’t shop locally, which causes their sales to suffer. But consider this…the locals in the towns typically work at factories or other businesses with shifts of 8am to 5pm also. If your business closes at 5pm, how are the locals who get off at 5pm supposed to be able to shop at your store. I know, Iknow…their lunch break? Not necessarily, because many people only get 30 minutes for lunch. And those who may have one hour, won’t necessarily have enough time to eat, shop, and make it back to work on time.

One other thing I noticed is that some businesses are not open on Saturdays or only open half a day on Saturdays. However, most consumers do their shopping on Saturdays. So I’m thinking…how are your customers supposed to shop in your store if you’re not open to be accessible for them. And those owners are wondering why more people don’t shop locally. I’m all for supporting local businesses. But it has to be accessible to me. I travel tremendously with my business, so I will shop local when it’s convenient. However, it is quite difficult to do that when businesses are closing early and not opening on most days that I have the time to shop.

With all of that being said…are those truly businesses or expensive hobbies? As a business owner, I find myself doing things that are as convenient for my customers as possible. I could require them to meet me at my office. But many don’t have the time to travel to me, so as a courtesy I go to them. I plan seminars and workshops when things are more convenient for my customers. Sure, I could make my seminar or workshop times consistently on Mondays, between the hours of 8am-12pm to allow me to have all afternoons and every other day of the week to do the things, I’d further enjoy. But it’s not realistic. And neither is expecting your customers to always cater to your needs. This doesn’t mean that you have to fit each and every customer’s schedule. But you should consider your largest target consumer. Because as I stated before, if you won’t there will be some other business who will.

With the economy in such dire state, is it the best thing for your business to hold to the idea, “We’ve always done it this way, so I don’t know why we should change it?” If that’s your stance, don’t be surprise if things don’t turn around for you anytime soon. It’s time for all business owners to truly ask the question, what’s more important doing what’s most convenient for me or doing what gives me the greatest potential of increasing sales to keep me in business?

Just some food for thought!

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