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Small is good again

It has really been quite gratifying this week to read about this in the national press and even in my professional journals. They are commenting that ‘small is good again’ and that it is the small businesses that will enable the UK economy to get back on its feet. This is not only in the wake of big businesses – airlines, department stores, football clubs, even shopping centres – going into administration, but perhaps an acceptance that small firms can cope better in these testing times. They have fewer overheads, less bureaucracy, more flexibility and, above all, an attitude of ‘going the extra mile’ to complete the task. Rather than doing less – because of social distancing, PPE, hygiene and cleaning – these entrepreneurs do more: extra hours, extra effort, even extra manpower. They know their success is in their delivery and that in turn brings them more business. It is not a new philosophy; it was just forgotten or overlooked as the modern trend towards expansion took over and the lure of ever-increasing profits became the main driving force of many businesses. Of course, there have been success stories among such organisations, but actually there have also been many casualties and the consumer at the end of the day probably gained least of all.

With the rise of the small business returns one of its chief and abiding hallmarks: personal service to the client. It is not the same as simply having a ‘customer care’ department but comes as an addition. It means that the client’s individual wishes and preferences are what the focus and the outcome of any exercise should be. Yes, a professional’s own experience, knowledge, skill and prowess have their place, but more for the benefit and fulfillment of the client’s wishes, and less focussed on the reward for the professional and his or her firm. I was long ago advised, ‘Look after the client, and he/she will look after you’. So, to read that this is indeed the creed to follow is a relief as well as a pleasure. There is nothing better than to see a client’s satisfaction, having accomplished a job well done, and to know that in doing so one has built a bond, a relationship of trust and even friendship, and that one will receive a fair remuneration for one’s service. This surely puts the priorities in their proper order, and rewards the professional with the knowledge that there will be another day and another assignment from the satisfied client in the future.

Despite indications that many standards and expectations will be under threat in the aftermath of the C19 pandemic, for the smaller business the ‘new normal’ may have something going for it after all. It is an exciting moment to witness this new spirit; hopefully, it will set an example that all those in business will seek to follow.

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