Definition of small business:
A privately-owned and operated business with relatively small turnover and staff numbers, typically seen as constituting part of a specific commercial or economic sector. Typically, a small business employs fewer than 100 workers and has revenues of less than $25 million.
Running a small business can have its challenges, and sometimes the biggest challenges are how we are treated by other businesses.
Recently we have been trying to set up a couple of new partnerships, and both of them seem to have their challenges. I understand that there are some big businesses, but nowadays, most businesses are small businesses, and that needs to be understood. When dealing with the smaller businesses, individuals have to understand that you never know who you are talking to when you call. The person answering the phone could be one of the business owners or could be a staff member. Treat whoever answers the phone with respect and never refer to them as “the receptionist.” One big clue that the person is not a receptionist is the greeting you get. When we answer our phones, even when we are not sure who it is calling, we will state the company name and then our name. If you know a little bit about our business, you will clue in that you have reached one of the owners.
Small businesses like dealing with other small businesses because normally we treat each other the way we want to be treated. In several ways, we understand the challenges that small business deals with and know how we want to be treated by others. My feeling is, I want to ensure that I treat all our clients the way I want to be treated by others. I also want to treat any vendors and possible clients in the same way because they will help build our business. I understand that everyone can have a rough day and not always be happy, but everyone is as important as the next person.
Recently we have been dealing with one company and the person calling hasn’t been the nicest to the person answering the phone. The person answering the phone is one of the owners of the business (me), and during one call, he was rather upset that the other person wasn’t available to immediately take his call. Emergencies with clients happen, so even a scheduled appointment might have to be changed when you are dealing with a small business. Now the call got rescheduled and handled, so that was ok. Now the salesperson called again today and expected to talk to the other owner, and as I handed over the phone, I commented that “at least he was friendlier today.” Normally I wouldn’t have said this, but after yesterday, I was frustrated with how he had treated me. Well, it ended up he heard what I said and has now sent an apology to “the receptionist.” I think he is going to be digging himself out of that comment for a while, as I am also one of the decision-makers for the business.
The other vendor thinks it is easy to get into discussions with clients and provide them with answers in future meetings. In most cases with small businesses, you have one chance to talk about something, and if you can’t even give them a ballpark cost, they don’t want to talk about it any longer. I know in several cases if I am in a meeting let me know a cost (even an estimate) before I waste my time, otherwise I am not interested.
Small businesses don’t have a lot of time to spend in meetings. If we are in a meeting where you are trying to sell me something, please let me know a cost (even an estimate) before I waste my time, otherwise I am not interested. A small business can be a challenge, but understand how they want to be treated and treating each person with respect can go a long way. If you are going to be calling a business to try and do business with them, do a little bit of homework first. Find out the size of the business because that could make a difference in how to approach them.
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