Today I decided to try out a new business in town. I own a small business, so I try to support the new, local businesses every chance I get. I was having trouble finding a phone number for the new place. I thought it was a second location for an existing business in town. So I picked up the phone and called the one across town, asking how I could get a hold of their "new" location. I was rudely told that, no, these two businesses were not associated and that they had no idea how to get a hold of them. Then they hung up on me.
Baffled, I resumed my search on Google and soon found the business on my side of town had a different name, and a phone number of their own, of course. I called and told the owner of the second business that the previous business was claiming to not be associated and that they were being utterly rude and unprofessional.
Having been in the retail business for many years, I've experienced lots of businesses of similar trade going in and out of business. There's always that phone call asking about the business across town who also sells shoes, or the place in the neighboring city who does what we do, too. Is the business across town still open? Are you associated with that one place? And each time, I'm happy to give out the information a customer is looking for. That's my job, as a sales associate, as a business owner, as a human being! I don't ever want to call somewhere and ask a question, only to be rudely handled and hung up on. Why would I do this to someone else? Does the phrase, 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you' come to mind?
After this experience, I wondered, as I often do, 'What does it mean to be in business? What does the word business even mean? Was it defined and intended to demand proper business etiquette?'
Off to the dictionary I went!
Business means the practice of making one's living by engaging in commerce. Now, you would think if someone was making their living by being in business, they would be far more pleasant than the woman I spoke to. The person who answers the phone decides how a customer will feel about your image! Little does she know, even if I ever end up on that side of town, I won't be taking my business there! In fact, I will go out of my way to take my business to the much more pleasant lady on the other side of town!
Now, the word commerce stood out to me and I wasn't quite satisfied, so I defined it as well. Commerce means the activity of buying and selling. It also means social dealings between people. Social means relating to or designed for activities in which people meet for pleasure! Aha! Now we are getting somewhere! Social dealings between people is very specific and intricate, and so is doing business. Thus, being in business means to make your living, your paycheck, your annual salary, by involving yourself in the act of buying, selling and activities in which people meet for pleasure! I don't think I need to go as far as to define the word pleasure.
Several sayings come to mind that I want to shout at this woman; 'The customer is always right, sales is about relationships, don't find customers for your product, find products for your customers.' The comebacks are endless, but they all have something in common; proper business etiquette. This woman obviously isn't in the business of making customers feel happy or satisfied!
Business isn't about you, the retailer. It doesn't matter if you're having a good day or a bad day. If you're going to make any sort of success, in any sort of business, you need to create relationships, be good to your fellow neighbor, or in this case consumer. Especially your fellow small business owners! My very first boss always told her staff, 'Leave your day outside of work at the door. Don't bring it into the store with you.' Honestly, as a retailer, I live by that. It's my motto! And it should be everyone else's. If my day is too stressful, I don't write because I don't want to bring my stressful mood into my writing.
I always share my fellow, locally owned business pages. I also apply this to my writing and blogging. I share posts that are interesting and informative. I make sure to tag the authors. Why? Because that is proper etiquette, no matter what business you're in. If your city or your community or your followers are doing well and creating relationships, so will you. Be good to your fellow writers. Be good to your fellow small business owners.
I once read that activity breeds activity. I'm saying that good people breed good business. Happy reading and writing my friends! Share your fellow writers posts. Share your fellow business owner's posts.