WWe need to spend more time thinking about what kind of business we want to own and run. We're not talking about whether you choose to be a plumber, beautician or social worker. It's about your values and culture as a business.
Decide on your business values.
The questions you must hold true to as your business grows are: "What kind of business will I start?" and "will it be a force for good in the world?"
The question, crudely put is: do you adopt a "take the money and run" approach, or genuinely give a monkey, take smaller profits and build customer trust and relations? The second option offers slower returns but long-term is a path to a sustainable livelihood.
Having a moral code might sound like a soft approach to business, but your values will give your business an identity and a reason for customers to follow it.
What will your business values be?
Take it from someone who has worked for some of the largest companies in the world;
Big business drives the wrong behaviour in people.
Endless meetings, herd mentality, fierce competition and "corporate governance" do little for creativity.
Our first advantage as startups is that we can choose to "over-deliver". As entrepreneurs and owners of small enterprise, we care more than anyone in a big company will ever do about our customers.
Our second advantage is that our customers shop and communicate through social media and technology. We have the ability, like never before, to reach a wider audience.
Whereas once a shop lease might have been beyond the reach of many a market stall holder, these days setting up a website is simple enough for anyone.
Will you make a stand for something?
Our claim to moral superiority over big business is that small business pays more in tax and employs more people. Not only that, we should find ways of convincing the consumer public that small business can be a positive force for good in the world. Corporate social resposnibility is no match for the trickle-down effect of wealth creation initiated by small business. If we were to couple that with a contribution to the environment, cancer research or similar causes, might we be able to convince yet more people to support small independents.? Give it some thought at least- what cause could you connect your business to?
It starts with regard for customers
We should have a close allegiance to these people, solving their problems, identifying and safeguarding their causes. They might want to be reassured that our business does not support the hunting of endangered species, or the building of prisons for repressive regimes.
If digital technology and small business startups are to have a positive effect on our lives then it is essential to give decent people decent choices and phenomenal service.
Consumers make their choices whether or not to become our customers depending on the choices you make at the outset. The tone, warmth, personalities and beliefs of your business persona will shape the demographic of your business. Will you donate a percentage of profit to charity? Will you offer courageous discounts for the homeless?
When considering your startup venture think about your culture, ethos and values. These things will help shape your service, branding and ultimately, success.
Give your startup some culture and make it something for people to follow.