Business Sorted SME Growth Tips Part Four
In this fourth and final instalment of our series of SME Growth Tips stemming from the Business Sorted event that took place in Bristol in September 2016, we look at the influence of overarching company policies and attitudes that can impact the longevity, public image and success of your business.
Be honest and transparent
Whether you’re dealing with customers, engaging with the general public, or negotiating and managing other business relationships such as those with suppliers and lenders, honesty and integrity are vitally important qualities. Business relationships are heavily built on trust. People like to deal with others they feel they can trust, and will be more likely to warm to you and come back for more if you prove yourself to be an honest operator.
What’s more, in today’s marketplace, dishonest and misleading selling and other forms of bad practice will not only lose individual customers and wreck particular business relationships, but also attract negative online reviews and occasionally even virally shared social media postings and blog posts complaining about you. Negative online feedback of these kinds can get noticed by a great many potential and existing customers and associates, damaging your credibility across the board, with potentially disastrous effects on the growth and sustainability of your business.
If someone does lash out online, address the issue in public with a polite acknowledgement, and express sorrow at the customer's unhappy experience, but leave the details and any attempts at resolution for a private conversation with your customer.
Whatever your line of business, it’s important to be aware of all applicable laws, including those relating to trading standards, employment, health and safety at work, importing and exporting, tax, and accounts.
Depending on the seriousness of the offence, breaking the law could see you suffer heavy fines that bankrupt your business, get you barred from serving as a company director for a number of years, or even land you in prison.
Check out the UK government’s Business and self-employed pages for a hive of information on relevant laws.
Keep clean - go green
In many industries, from mining and energy supply to manufacturing, packaging and logistics, environmental considerations and standards have played an increasingly important role over recent decades. Both the tide of environmental legislation and the growth of environmentally conscientious consumer sentiment can be powerful drivers to recommend the adoption of environmentally friendlier practices by businesses today.
So even if the law doesn’t yet require it, there may be commercial advantages to your business in ‘going green’ before your competitors do. The implementation of thorough recycling protocols and the adoption of carbon-neutral energy usage policies are among the most popular approaches for businesses working in traditionally polluting industrial sectors that are seeking to improve their environmental credentials.
If you are being green, shout about it! Include information about your green credentials on your website and in your newsletters, and make it part of your ethical company culture.
Pay it forward
Aside from honesty, generosity is a quality that can be advantageous for businesses to cultivate and display to customers. Being customer-focused is always desirable in any case, but going that extra mile to put smiles on faces with words and deeds that show a real generosity of spirit could mark you out from competitors and help to attract and retain customer loyalty.
It could be a free gift with a large purchase, a prize competition to celebrate a product launch, or something as simple as a handwritten note of thanks on an attractive card. As the old saying puts it, ‘Do as you would be done by’. Showing a generous spirit to your customers may attract generosity back to your business.
Be good, to do good.
Have you considered and evaluated how your company values, policies and attitudes look to customers and others you deal with lately? We hope that the above guidelines will be of help in keeping your business on the best footing where it matters.
Thank you for reading our four-part series of SME Business Growth Tips! We at GWS wish you every success in developing and growing your enterprise.