Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Irony of Exceptional Businesses: Getting Back to the Basics

As a budding entrepreneur, I have recently taken to analyzing and dissecting businesses, companies and projects that I come across along my way. Mind you, I do this from a distance and usually in my head. But I especially do this with successful ones, because well, bluntly put, I want to be successful too. Gotta keep your eye on the prize, right?  Not only that, I have begun thinking about various brands or organizations I like and actually pondering the reasons why I do have such an affiliation and affection towards them.

The common denominator that was first to jump out at me was a simple one, but it was present in almost every single successful company I could think of and really managed to set apart the ordinary from the extraordinary.

I'll sum it up in a phrase for you: the truly exceptional businesses get to be so exceptional by doing some not so exceptional things. Pretty normal things, actually.

It's not necessarily about offering an amazing product/service or having a genius idea. That is an important part of the process of course, but there are millions of ingenious ideas and products out there, and those can make great companies, but to push the envelope and get your company to the next level it requires more than just that. Here is where we get back to the basics.

What do I mean by this? Well, perhaps I'm a tad idealistic and optimistic (my personal blog is entitled "The Eternal Optimist" after all), but I like to think that these traits tend to be rather, well...simple and standard. To me, they should be common sense. That is what I mean by basics. It doesn't take a rocket science to figure them out, but apparently it does to apply them.

I'm talking about the nitty gritty, elementary traits of humanity. I'm talking about getting back to the basics of social conduct, folks. Things like customer service. Great customer service these days can be thought of as simply acknowledging and answering a client's question or concern.  The standards have lowered and the technologies have improved. This should equal a recipe for social success, but in today's day and age it can too often be virtually impossible to track someone down in a company to talk to. And in my eyes that is inexcusable. What goes hand in hand with customer service? Politeness. In today's world of email and emoticons sometimes politeness seems to be a thing of the past, and because of that, it goes an even longer way when done right. There are many more basics I could list off that include but are not limited to: being on time, being prepared, listening skills, etc. These things should be a given in the business world, but I am realizing more and more that they unfortunately are not.

So, what does this mean for you and your business? Don't underestimate having an amazing product, but don't overestimate it either. There are so many (too many) wonderful ideas out there that don't make it past the startup phase and this is usually because all of the effort is spent perfecting the product and not enough on the business end. If this isn't your forte, find someone who does enjoy it and does it well. This is essential because it will create the reputation of your company and you can never take back a first impression, right?

This may be cliché but the most relevant quote that comes to my mind is simply the golden rule "treat others as you would want to be treated". This is almost even more applicable in business than in real life. You are a client of something after all. Turn the tables on yourself and think of what kind of treatment you would expect/like to receive from businesses.

What is your stance on this subject? Do you think it takes ordinary actions to create an extraordinary company? Do you think there is a lack of these logical traits in companies today?

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