The data on small business start-ups indicates that the number one factor impacting long-term success is the financial stability of the company. Regardless of how impressive an idea or service might be to the local community, not being prepared to address the start-up expenses and operating costs, as well as covering supplier costs with little cash intake, can devastate your finances and sabotage healthy business growth. This has led to a high rate of failure for startups – about 90% of startups go down.

Operating upside-down within the first months of your company’s opening is a hard place to recover from. Fortunately, there are companies who can help provide the funds you need to succeed, and according to, not all of the options require the rigid financing of traditional lender loans. While this is great news if your small business is threatened with money problems, your finances aren’t the only things you need to worry about.

The Secret to Success

Building a company means building relationships with your target market and offering a product that is both highly needed and desperately wanted. Without a loyal consumer base, your company’s growth will stall, and along with it, your company’s cash flow and profit. The second faster way to kill your business is to starve it to death. Sales bring the income, but your personal interaction and company culture towards sales and service are the foundation of a successful company. If your company is going to leave a memorable mark on your target market, you need to develop a customer-centric culture in your company. Never heard of it or aren’t sure how? Here are the top ways to create a customer experiencethat involves everyone from the top down and encourages loyalty and referrals.  

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1. Use Meaningful Words

A lot of companies have a slogan and catchphrases that attract consumer attention, but you need a central operating principle that captures employee attention. Using well-chosen and meaningful words, articulate what you stand for by way of service or mission. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate. The Mayo Clinic uses “the needs of the patient come first.” Simple, straight-to-the-point, but well-intentioned and genuine.

2. Define Core Values

After your central philosophy has been established, you need to draft a short life of recognizable value that employees can internalize and practice. These values should include the manner in which all persons coming into contact with members of your team, whether they be clients, vendors, customers, or fellow employees, should be consistently treated. These are principles that apply to the head of the company all the way to the part-time temp worker that fills in on the third shift. The culture must be created company-wide.

3. Continually Reinforce the Commitment to Values

You can take five minutes at the beginning of each department meeting to explore ideas related to the values or you could have emphasis weeks once a month that focus on delivering a superior version of a value. Continually revisit the value with both employees and leadership. Don’t save it for the annual Christmas party or company picnic. Once a year doesn’t really send a message of commitment to core values.

4. Provide Visual Reminders

The core values for your company should be present just about everywhere within your company. Create a visual that can immediately identify what your company stands for, either through word or design. Some companies stamp the core values on the back of employee ID tags, while a FedEx relies on a more visual declaration of their commitment to safety. The bright orange seat belts that FedEx drivers wear is both an internal and external indication of a value their company holds in the highest regard.

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5. Use Orientation as an Introduction

Every new employee generally goes through some sort of orientation or onboarding process. Rather than wait until the new hire is comfortable with the company and getting a feel for how things work around the office, establish the expectations of action through an initial focus on core values. By sharing and repeating the company’s core values before the employee gets on the job, it will be easier for him to recognize attitudes or behaviors that aren’t in line with company expectations and policy. This might be a way to prevent simply going along with what a more seasoned employee instructs since there will be a cognitive disconnect between what was learned and what is being demonstrated.

6. Enforce by All Means Necessary

You can have the best customer-centric culture idea in place, but it won’t go anywhere unless it is implemented and adhered to. Not everyone on your team is going to fully get behind what you are going to do, but as long as they work for you, they don’t get to call the shots. You will need to continually monitor how your values are being demonstrated in all areas of the company. You need to take advantage of all your options in order to achieve success.

When you are considering how to implement a customer-centric culture, don’t underestimate the need for using training, requiring new talent, supporting floor decisions, and even using a disciplinary measure to redirect employees toward the value system you have established. What you have presented to them is required, not just desired, behavior. A cohesive approach to customer service is going to go a long way towards your company’s long-term success.

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