There are many factors that contribute to the success of any sized business. There must be administrative functions, financing, ordering, marketing, sales, shipping, customer service, technical expertise, etc. and all handled with a certain degree of efficiency and all important to the eventual success of a business entity. However, there are three key essentials that stand out from all of the necessary functions and are present in every successful business: employees, customers, and products and services.
Assuming a business has employees, it’s essential for those employees to be loyal and committed to the company. They are, perhaps, the most important assets any business can have yet often are overlooked. Employees are the link between a business and its customers; therefore, it's vital for their priorities to be in sync with those of their employer. When employees are made to feel valued, they in turn bring value to the business they work for. They try their best, understand the business goals, treat customers as if they were valued, and generally are goodwill ambassadors for their employer. Businesses can certainly be successful without a totally committed workforce; however, efficiency is greatly enhanced when a positive atmosphere prevails, which leads to a more profitable operation.
Consider the following quotes by these well-known and successful business executives:
Richard Branson (Founder of the diversified 400-company Virgin Group): “If you look after staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple!”
Jack Welch (Former CEO of GE): “It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”
Anne M. Mulcahy (Former CEO of Xerox): “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”
Doug Conant (Former CEO of Campbell’s Soup): “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.”
Stephen R. Covey (Educator, best-selling author, and keynote speaker): “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”
Sam Walton (Founder of Walmart): "Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Share your profits with all your associates, and treat them as partners. In turn, they will treat you as a partner, and together you will all perform beyond your wildest expectations.”
It goes without saying that any business needs customers to be successful. The more loyal the customers, the more successful the business will be. Loyal customers do not simply make one-time only purchases. They repeat the purchasing process over and over again. This is true when either the customer is a business buying from another business or an individual buying from a business. Whether the purchase is either a small monetary amount or a large enterprise software purchase, repeat business and after-sale revenue servicing is the equivalent of a business annuity. Month-after-month and year-after-year, a business can depend on a certain amount of repeat business from loyal customers.
When core customers make repeat purchases and new customers make their initial purchases, sales then start to grow exponentially creating greater net profits. Loyal customers are a valuable source of income when businesses start to diversify and offer products and services beyond their core offerings. Using an already established base of customers allows a business to market new and/or additional products and services with less effort and cost. Loyalty from customers and credibility for the company have already been established because of past purchases.
Successful companies understand the role that loyal customers play in growing a business:
Jeff Bezos (Founder Amazon): “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little better.”
Tony Hsieh (CEO Zappos): “Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.”
Bill Gates (Co-Founder Microsoft): “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
Warren Buffett (Owner of multinational conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway): “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Products and Services
Products and services...and to be more specific...superior products and services is the third key element in the business puzzle of success. While no business can be successful without committed employees and loyal customers, it also needs superior products and services to sell. Employees manufacture (depending on the product), sell, and service customers’ needs. Without superior products and services to sell, then there is no demand from customers. When there is no demand, then there are no sales and without sales, there will be no viable business.
With that being said, don’t forget about the importance of products and services:
Steve Jobs (Co-Founder Apple): “Customers don’t measure you on how hard you tried, they measure you on what you deliver.”
Peter Drucker (Management consultant, educator, and author): “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”
Stefan Persson (Chairman fashion company H&M): “Loyalty is not won by being first. It is won by being best.”
Henry Ford (Founder Ford Motor Company): “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
The Three Key Essentials
Operating any type of successful business demands excellence in many areas. None can be more important than employees, customers, and products and services. Concentrate on these three areas striving for excellence in each. Excellence will not happen overnight, however, with continuous involvement and concentration, progress and success can be achieved.