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Make Them "An Offer They Can't Refuse!"

Surely, that phrase from "The Godfather" conjures up a particular vision in your mind. Backing it was a threat either implied or real (in the case of that particular Hollywood producer, very real). But, for entrepreneurs, they should think of using that phrase as the way they do business...except in a positive way! Meaning that you make a great offer and you back it up with your delivery on that offer. Effectively, it's a "win, win."  Whether it's to a customer, a supplier or an employee.You make them an offer they can't refuse because they know you're behind it.

Think about that. How often have you been offered a proposition that just seemed "too good to be true?"  And, it usually was!  Often, it really comes down to the reality of our times, our bad experiences and our own cynical expectations.Far too few people and companies consistently under promise and over deliver.

This provides an opportunity for how an entrepreneur and their small business can stand out, by standing for something. Now, this isn't some Pollyannaish notion. It's an operating philosophy, but it's not for the faint of heart, because it's one that will need to permeate everything that you do, from day one. And it's backed by integrity and the desire to be different and make a difference. It's a way to make a name for you and your small business early and then to continually reinforce it as you grow. And here's how:

With Customers - Make it about them

Start by "giving to get."  Provide "free stuff" before they buy anything, whether it's valuable information or a free trial. Then deliver the highest quality product you possibly can, on or before the promised delivery date. Personalize all communications, especially with the customer service line answered by a human being for as long a period as possible, every day. Respond to problems within hours not days and always fix them in the customer's favor (replacing product, often with no questions asked - think Zappo's shoe return policy). Follow up, frequently. Use your philosophy as the foundation of your sales pitch (they're buying more than product) and then back it up with results! Build a reputation for service and integrity (And do find company role models for good customer service). Then, not only can they count on your word, but they can count on you and your company constantly exceeding their expectations. With social media, word of mouth will spread. They will be your best sales people!

With Employees - "Walk the talk"

This starts with your first employee. It's one thing to operate in a particular way with customers, but you need to operate the same way with employees. Don't treat customers like royalty and employees like serfs. Remember, you deal with customers, periodically, but with employees, every day. Make your small business a place they enjoy coming to, feel respected and feel they are making a difference. Explain the importance of their role in the company's direction and results. Help them to grow as contributors and people. Ask for and listen to their feedback for how to make your relationship and your company better. Don't make promises that you might not be able to deliver on, especially where compensation is concerned. If you can, though, find a way to make them owners, as early as possible through stock options or a bonus plan tied to company results. They will be in the foxhole with you when there's "incoming!"

With Suppliers - Treat them as partners

They are entrepreneurs just as much as you are. They have payrolls to make just like you do. So, build your relationship with them, from the get-go, as partners. If possible, for a major supplier, sit down with them (preferably owner to owner) before you actually do business.If that's not possible, do a Skype video call so you can, at least, put a face to the voice on the phone. Understand as much about them and how they do business as possible and be sure they do the same. Emphasize their importance to your company's ability to deliver the highest level quality product to your customers. If you're just starting out, tell them. Explain how important payment terms will be and how you will always communicate with them if you have any issue in meeting those terms, but, nonetheless, want to always get the best terms you can. In turn, find out how they measure/manage the quality of their work and how they deal with and respond to problems.Tell them, if they can deliver what they promise, you can promise them both volume and prompt payment, and a long-term relationship where both of you make money. In short, you want them to feel like they are nearly an extension of your company.

Customers, employees, suppliers - make them an offer they can't refuse because they know you'll back it up. Always a "win, win." Under promise, over deliver, operate with the highest degree of integrity, be different and make a difference is how make your small business, initially, stand out and, eventually, succeed, beyond all expectations!

"The Entrepreneur's Yoda" knows these things.  He's been there.  May success be with you!

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