[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=highway+signs&iid=259699″ src=”0256/8cc02d39-2a22-43c0-ba77-ab28011c1391.jpg?adImageId=8890792&imageId=259699″ width=”234″ height=”158″ /]We all can admit that 2010 is going to be an uphill climb for businesses of all kinds and sizes. Doesn’t matter if you are a solo-preneur or a global conglomerate with 20,000 employees…it’s an uphill climb. And maybe now, this week, maybe even today, you decide on which road you will travel: the highway or the byway.
The highway is a main public road that connects one town or city with another. It’s an artery connecting people one to another making commerce both possible and efficient. The byway is a little out-of-the-way side road. It is little traveled and isn’t really meant to be a commercial artery.
There was a feature story in my newspaper’s business section this morning that showcased a small family business that I believe is on the highway. To me, some of the signposts of being on the highway are:
- a dream and passion for the business
- determination to make the business work
- great customer service
- offering added value
The article by David Morrill, Contra Costa Times, is titled “Vacuum center owner on job 7 days a week,” [different title in online version]. In reading the article, I find that Mr. Raees Iqbal’s business, Western Vacuum & Sewing Center, is not only traveling on the highway, Mr. Iqbal carries all the signposts. [from the article]
- a dream and passion for the business – “…‘It’s great to be able to offer something that every single house needs,’ he said. ‘We give them good dependable vacuum cleaners to help keep their homes clean….'”
- a determination to make the business work – “…Raees Iqbal keeps the doors open seven days a week. And he works nearly every day…’Right now we are just trying to hang out here and make it work,” Iqbal said. “I’m going to do everything I can to keep it going….'”
- great customer service – “…Iqbal knows his company needs to be on top of the industry. Every vacuum cleaner brand that comes in, he needs to be able to fix. If a customer needs a part, it has to be on the shelf.…”
- offering added value – “…’We have to treat everybody like they’re VIP,’ he said….”
These signposts of being on the highway are no guarantee of success certainly. They are, however, indicators that the business is making every effort to be alive and vibrant. Just like Mr. Iqbal is quoted in Mr. Morrill’s story, he’s willing to do what he must to keep his business going. The article is not a long or comprehensive one, but Mr. Morrill gave a pretty clear picture of one small business owner’s strategy for 2010:
- be available to customers – keeping his store open 7 days a week is one way
- provide needed services onsite – keeping up-to-date on his industry and keeping his shelves stocked with parts
- have a customer-centered business – in his own words, “…treat everybody like they’re VIP….”
- keep the dream alive – “‘…make sure that you are really passionate about what you want to do and have a whole lot of patience.…'”
Not to put too fine a point on it and turn this into nothing but flowery prose I think what’s important for all of us who own businesses and wish to remain in business this year is to determine what we’re going to be willing to do to stay on the highway and off the side roads: defining the dream and vision; knowing our industry and products and services inside and out; offering customers quality care and added value…and hanging in there.