woman planningIn order to maintain a long-term, thriving business, it is important that you offer a solution to real problems that people face. To do this, take the time to find out what these problems are, what solutions have been tried and failed in the past, and how your product or service can fulfill that need. The following is a basic list of suggestions for how to solve real problems with your business.

  •  Look for a need. This is especially important in over-saturated industries where a great deal of competition exists. For example, a metropolitan suburb with a bustling downtown area is home to several different restaurants on every block. The reason each one is successful is because its owners have satisfied a need. Local residents want the convenience of city life while maintaining the quiet, more laid-back, affordable lifestyle of living in the suburbs. Their downtown area is like a prized possession, especially because of the shopping and dining that exists. Each restaurant offers something different, whether it’s a specific type of cuisine or a particular ambiance  Without these options, local residents would have to travel into the city to find unique dining options, so these restaurants together fulfill a need for a convenient alternative.
  • Provide good value. At a time when everyone is watching his or her pennies more than ever, it is crucial to provide a good value. Is your product or service versatile? Is it reliable? Don’t forget to factor in those elements when deciding on price points. People are willing to pay more for something that is of high quality and can be relied upon. Another key aspect of value is the level of customer service you offer. When customers know that you genuinely care and that they can trust you, the value of your product increases.
  • Make sure your product or service is for long-term use. Have you ever bought something that needed to be replaced shortly thereafter? How likely were you to purchase from the same company again? Only offer products that will last a reasonable amount of time and services that can be used for the long term. That Bluetooth headset you sell should last a customer longer than his or her cell phone contract does. Similarly, those students who pay you for private voice lessons should be taught techniques that can be used in any style of music at all levels. Repeat customers mean long term success.
  • Seek out client feedback. This should be a top priority. Asking for feedback can be done informally through casual conversation or in writing on a survey card provided at checkout. Whatever strategy you use, listen carefully and adjust accordingly. You may have customers that swear by your products but aren’t being provided quality customer service by your staff. If this is the case, wouldn’t you do everything necessary to change that? Your clients are the backbone of your business, so listen to what they tell you.
  • Make improvements that benefit clients. Based on feedback you receive and other observations you make about how your business operates, make improvements that benefit the client first. For example, the owner of a small fitness studio wants to make renovations to her outdated space. As much as she looks forward to a lobby with a more efficient layout and an exercise area with new padded flooring and a state of the art sound system, she can’t afford to make all these renovations at once. The improved flooring will benefit her clients the most, as it will be easier on their joints and more pleasant to exercise in general. Make decisions with your customers in mind.

Step outside of your role as a small business owner and take an honest look at how you can solve real problems with your business. Evaluate your products, talk to your customers, and make improvements accordingly.

How do you solve real problems in your business? Please share your answers below!