There's been a lot of talk recently about big business learning from small business, and for years there's been a quiet evolution going on. Now that the shit has hit the fan, and big businesses are tumbling like dominos, many are sprouting about the "new way" to do business. But is it new, and is it radical?
Since 1996 i have been running my own micro business, and have kept to a few basic principals. I treat customers and clients with personal respect, and give them a say in their dealings with me. It's not difficult, in fact it's very gratifying. It's also not new. Village businesses for thousands of years have been trading in this way focusing on the person rather than "the deal". It's a trade. Someone needs/wants something that they can't make or provide for themselves, so they seek out a source. It's about an energy exchange, and sometimes it comes in the form of a swap of product or services, or more often an exchange of money.
And what is money anyway? If I keep chickens and have too many eggs than i can eat, i might swap some each week with my neighbour, who plants excess vegitables to exchange with me and others. Now we both have eggs and vegies. No money needed, just pre-planning. But the honey man doesn't need eggs or vegies, but i need honey. So i give him cash so he can swap that for something he does need, that i can't provide for him. So money is a way of exchanging an equivelent value of something which cannot be bartered. This simple perception of money is no different today. It's the spending of virtual money (credit) which makes things complicated and unstable.
I sell a lot of Tania Rose CDs via online auctions. In this way customers get to choose the value of the CD for themselves. A cd to one person might be worth far more than it is to another, so a customer can have a say, and only buy at the price that suits them. I like this feeling of fairness and bartering. It's also about the customer's experience during their purchase too. I like to have fun when i buy, and i think a lot of other people do to, so i like to share that in our communications and service with each customer.
But the feel-good doesn't end there. Once we're all happy with the exchange, and everyone has had a sense of fun, THEN we get to hear from people saying what a pleasure the whole experience was. You can't imagine the joy i feel when i read emails, messages and blogs from people about their possitive experience. Its like icing on the cake. Here's an example from Libby Varcoe
So, doing business with passion and personal detail isn't new. It's the old way to do business, just as if you are trading with your family or neighbour. There should be a feeling of satisfaction on both sides of the fence, and if your not feeling warm and fuzzy, then chances are neither is your customer.