Is Business Just Business or is it Personal
How many times have you heard the phrase “it’s just business”. We can set businesses up legally as its own entity and we can build a brand promoting this entity, however, when it comes to dealing with this entity, what is it that motivates people to do so.
At my recent Albany Creek Business Contacts (ACBC) meeting I posed this question to the members (who are small business owners) and found overwhelming support that it is personal.
Comments started by supporting the idea that, particularly in small business, the business runs based on the personal characteristics of the owner. The owners’ beliefs, values, ethics and desires are what shapes the business, its brand and its growth. Consultants and business literature will say to look at what your customers and market are looking for in order to make decisions on service delivery. This is true, however, the business’s people and the relationships they establish with customers will be the driving force of the business.
One ACBC member commented that in their service industry it is very personal. Customers need to establish trust and be comfortable with the people they are dealing with and will decide on whether they will use the service on a relationship basis. In this regard, customers don’t separate personal from business.
Other comments from a business owner’s perspective suggest that some decisions are made from a personal perspective rather than a business perspective. It was suggested that “if it doesn’t feel right then it’s not right”, inferring that some decisions are on gut instinct or personal comfort rather than rational business analysis.
In relation to branding of the business, it was suggested that if the owner and staff are not personally invested in the message and what is trying to be achieved, then how can they “sell” and support the message and the brand. It they are not committed and own the brand then how can they explain it to others in the way the business wants to be seen.
Finally, it was suggested that maintaining and projecting the “personal” part of a business can be a competitive edge particularly for small business competing with large players in the market. A good example is dealing with large organisations’ call centers. Although the caller is speaking with a person, many find the scripted process less engaging and personal feeling they are not important to the business. How many times have you said to the insurance company or telco company (merely by way of examples) “I know my account is not very big in the scheme of your business, however, I am not feeling very satisfied with the way I’m being treated”. This sense of sterility and lack of personal relationship impacts on customer satisfaction. The difficulty for a small business arises in relation to how to maintain the personal relationship with customers and the brand built if it grows into one of the large players.