In all nations of the world, either developed or developing, SMEs (Small and Medium-size Enterprises) contribute a lot to economic growth. This is evident in the areas of their contributions towards gross domestic product (GDP), job creation, poverty reduction and income generation. All these combine to national development.
In Australia for instance, small businesses account for 35% of the nation's GDP, and employ 44% of Australia's workforce. Likewise, SMEs employ around 16.3 million people in the United Kingdom, representing 60% of all jobs. In the same vein, small businesses are the driving force of the U.S. economy, as they create about two-thirds of new jobs, in addition to driving the U.S. innovation and competitiveness. This report shows that SMEs account for 44 percent of U.S. economic activities.
Talking about a developing nation like Nigeria, as at the year 2018, about 37.1 million SMEs were operational in Nigeria. Their contribution to the GDP was at that time, about 48.7 percent, while their contribution to export is about 7.2 percent.
As SMEs may be described as establishments with less than 250 employees, (exact figures however may vary from one country to another), there exists a subset of SMEs known as the Micro businesses, employing between 1 and 10 employees. As important as these ventures are to the economy, they face several challenges, especially in a competitive market. This post therefore identifies some areas in which you can keep clients/customers, thereby, progressively growing your micro business, and be ahead of your competitors.
Quality of Products/Services
Needless to say, the major concern of clients in any business involvement is the delivery of quality products/services. This is the first determinant of continuous patronage. When your product is good, customers keep coming. Likewise, when your services are top-notch, and maybe flexible to suit clients, they will keep seeking your services. Poor service delivery might crumble a business, even before take off.
Constant Product Availability
it will be disappointing to a client if he depends on you for goods or services and you are unable to deliver when such is needed. It is important to know the needs of the people that your company cares for and ensure that this product or service is always available. This will encourage continuous patronage and bring about more referrals for your service. This step may require that you focus mainly on that one business, rather than venturing into multiple enterprises, or at least, establish a niche for yourself before adding a new business.
If for instance you are a poultry farmer, you will have customers who depend on you for regular supply of eggs. If you fail to deliver on multiple occasions, these people look for more dependable farmers to do business with.
Stability of Staff
There are employers who are in the habit of frequently changing employees. It is very important for you to build a good relationship with your employees, as they play vital roles in keeping your customer base. Clients tend to establish strong bonds with your employees over time, thereby keeping such clients close.
If for instance you own a barbing salon, with a couple of barbers on your payroll, clients tend to build bonds with specific barbers based on their expertise, or choice of style. If these employees are frequently changed, they tend to take some of your clients with them as a result of the bond that they have created.
Business Operating Time
It is important for you to specify your business operating time. This refers to what days of the week you are open for business, and your opening and closing times on those days. In addition, you should not fall short of this. Being true to your operating time gives clients confidence that products / services can be accessed during those periods.
Other things to note while building a strong customer base in your micro business are easy accessibility to business outlet and contact address. The location of your business has an influence on the kind of clients you attract. It is therefore of great importance that you site your business in an area that is very accessible to your target clients, or at least, easy to locate. This may involve the use of signs, and an accessible mobile phone contact.
Your client base is the essence of your business. How you handle this determines whether or not you will continue to have a business, or you will be relevant in that field.