Sunday, July 22, 2012

Good Business Practices

I always wonder what causes someone to not have good business practices and then when they are pointed out to them get angry.  So rather than talk about the negatives, let's talk about what good business practices are.

If you are in business you are selling something, either a product or a service, but you are selling.  A boss of mine from many, many years ago told me there are three things a business can offer:

  1. Quality
  2. Service
  3. Price
Which two of those three do you really want ?  For me the answer is always Quality and Service, price is quite a distance beneath that.  You know that old adage you get what you pay for?  Well it is true.

I have always taken pride in my ability, and my desire, to produce both products and services that are above the rest of the pack.  In order to do that I need to charge a fair price because I have a lot of hidden costs such as research, development and training.  My training is industry related and I am proud to have achieved my Certified Clinical Aromatherapist designation.  Essential oils are over the counter drugs and I want to use them in my products in a responsible manner, knowing what the contra-indicators are and what warnings, if any, need to be on my products.

I also look at what other countries are doing differently, and perhaps better, than what we are here in Canada.  I must say that our legislation is fair and protects our consumers and not nearly as challenging to meet as others such as the European Union has done with theirs.  We don't have to get safety assessments for our products before selling.  We do have to register our formulations with Health Canada prior to, or within 10 days of starting to sell that particular product.  In other words me must be responsible for what we do.  Interesting concept that.

So back to good business practices.  What is good for the industry is good for the people in it.  You will never find me trying to undercut my competition, real or imagined.  Because I do supply a product that people want I have a hard time keeping enough product available.  If I were to try and undercut the market I wouldn't be able to keep up and I would have to start cutting corners. Let's go back to choosing the 2 out 3 things you can ask from a business.  What's going to be your best deal in the long run.  Most businesses that feel the need to undercut in order to move product are ones that aren't moving product in the first place.  There are lots of reasons for that and only they can say what it is.  It could be as innocent as a poor marketing plan and are therefore not reaching the market they need to reach.  But hold on a minute - this is bad for the overall industry because they are setting unrealistic expectations from the general market that they should be able to buy your product/service at that price.  So this would fall under bad business practices.

Another good business practice is to not talk badly about your competition to your customers.  Eventually you are going to turn them off because people don't like being sold through a negative sales pitch.  Talk about what makes you product different and better.  If you don't know then you need to sit down and figure it out.  If you don't believe in your business no-one else is going to either.  You went into business for a reason.  Always try to remember why you are walking this path.  Usually people go into business because it is a passion; always hold onto that passion - let it shine in your day to day business practices.  It is okay to talk to other business owners about challenging business owners that are not using good business practices, and it is even better when you question that business directly.  But know that you are not likely going to change how they do business and you could end up in hot water so choose your business group wisely.

My business is governed by Health Canada and I take a great deal of pride in knowing that I am doing everything I need to do and so much more.  I take pride in my business practices, in my products and the services I offer my clients.  There are businesses I greatly admire, there are business owners for whom I have a great deal of respect.  These are the people who will influence me as I build my business.

What makes you stand out from the crowd?

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