Money is tight, businesses all over the world are closing their doors and unemployment has hit workers harder now then since the Great Depression. How can this environment be a boom to business? Very simply – if you are the owner, or manager of any business – you can make it work.

There is a quotation by Warren Buffett – It takes 20 years to build a reputation, but only 5 minutes to ruin it. Nothing could be more truthful than this one statement. If your business is based on quality and not quantity, your workers are your source of pride and not only bottom line, and you yourself have a direct hands-on passion for what you do – then recession, depression, or anything in between will be to your advantage.

Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s Hamburgers was another great example of what true business success is all about. His foundation for his restaurants was a combination of hard work, patience, and above all honesty in all dealings. If you, as the owner or manager, have a strong, passionate commitment to what you produce, the people you serve or sell to, and how you will stand behind every product you put out, then you have success guilded in bright letters for your business. As a business person, you know that the there will always be ways to get out of deals and guarantees, but this does and has lead to doors being chained and business dreams being added to the heap that is quickly piling up and known as America’s small business enterprises. However, if you change your way of thinking and instead of knowing all the ways to get out of promises, if you never stop finding ways to save deals, commitments, and guarantees, then your front door to the buying public will be open and the fresh air of new business will flow.

Commitment is the very difference that can make or break a small shop, or a large mega-corporation. Everyone has read about the greed of some CEO’s, and the fact that while they basked in the security of finances, their workers’ pensions and benefits melted away. However, there have been owners and directors who turned the tables on “bad” business and instead made the headlines for sharing corporate profits with workers when things were tough and gave workers not only the monetary benefits but the moral and ego benefits needed to produce the best products and give the best service. You yourself know that being motivated and assured that what you are doing is the best you can do, taking one step further is the sign of success. If you can get this message across to your workers, you have to believe in it yourself and practice it until it is perfect. What is perfection? It is knowing that after you reach this high step, there can always be a step higher. It is never being satisfied with what is perfect, but letting those that work under you to know that you are grateful for this level of success, but together, and this is the key word, together it can be better and better.

In today’s economy, doesn’t it make sense to reach out to families that are struggling and give them their money’s worth in what they purchase from you, as well as the trust that it takes so very long to build up to. If you continue with your quest to make every customer a return customer – then you have the answer to what ails American businesses today. The key that unlocks the chest of success in your business is that you – together with your workers – not your workers alone while you sit back and bask in their output – will keep that cash register ringing when other businesses and their registers sit silently in the dark. If you can turn first time buyers into returning customers, then that is a feather in your cap. If you can turn returning customers into passing the word about your way of doing business, then you have a gold mine. In this gold mine though, you have to pick up that pick and shovel and work just as hard as you are asking your workers to work. You have to pick up that phone and speak the truth to your customers instead of asking your workers to dance around the truth, but never tell it like it really is. If you have trust, and you let it go because of greed, or wanting to cut corners, then you might as well go and buy that chain and padlock from the hardware store that you trust and that you give repeat business to. Irony – you bet – but the type of irony that keeps you motivated and with your heart in the right place.

No body begrudges a business owner a profit, but if that profit is gotten on the backs of people who shell out hard earned money that is becoming harder to come by, then your profit will blow in the wind and disappear with every economic downturn. However, if you assure your customers that you stand behind that widget you sell, the car repair you just completed, and that they are welcome to ask questions and get answers, then clouds disappear and the sun does come out. If your customers can reach you, and not only your workers, then your place at the top of the business heap is ready and waiting for you. If you can’t be bothered to talk to a simple customer because you are too busy or too important and you leave it up to only your workers, then the heap you find yourself on will not be to your liking.

It is not rocket science to know that your thoughts and endeavors should be in providing buyers with value and trust. Especially in today’s hard times, you will be remembered, and the word spread around will not be anywhere close to what is being said about AIG or other “can never fail” businesses that now find themselves with tin cups and asking for bail-outs. Even the car dealers made offers that were good for the bottom line, but did you ever try to get a bad engine replaced even though there was a warranty and that if certain motors were known for certain problems, did any of the Big Three ever offer to make the difference between a sale and a commitment.

Something to think about

©Arleen M. Kaptur
March, 2009