By Susan Bowen Lane

When first beginning a business, there is no history, no prior customers for reference, no longevity of service or product reliability and not even assurance to the customer that your business will even exist long enough to deliver goods or services. Why should anyone purchase anything from a small business person just starting out? The owner’s job is to convince the customer to give him or her a chance to prove that delivery will be made as ordered and on time. Many times a small business owner gets one shot only. Many times you may get a chance because of a lower price or the promise of delivery on an unrealistic due date. If the chance to deliver is blown then another chance may not be forthcoming for a very long time. Large volume sales will come slowly because purchasing managers of large corporations are usually reluctant to use small companies, even if prices are much less.

When first beginning, call on small or mid-size companies who may use your products or services. You really need to have some kind of commitment from your target customers before you even begin a business. The smaller customers can be the base upon which you grow your company.

When beginning my company, I made a conscious decision to always give the customer a little bit more than they expected. I never told them the surprise until they picked up their orders and then what a pleasant surprise they usually had when they saw their order. The surprise always gave the customer a much greater perception of value received and that perceived value can be everything in building sound business relationships. Giving the customer a little extra lets them know how much they are appreciated and how much you value their business. If someone is pleasantly surprised they will often tell someone else and this will help your business grow. In today’s fast moving world of computers, there is a saying that if a customer is pleased, he will tell three other people, but if he is not pleased he will tell three thousand people. Who knows if this is true, but no one wants to test this idea.