A literature survey was performed looking for direct feedback from small business owners regarding what they want from vendors and value chain suppliers.
There was surprisingly little information available, however the following webpage was deemed the most useful: http://smallbiztrends.com/2008/12/what-do-small-businesses-want.html
In summary, the most frequent answer reported by the small business owners was:
Be a vendor to partner with
(ie. “genuinely care about me and my business”)
Feedback provided in relation to general provision of services was:
- Transparency of pricing is important.
- Provide a high-quality product, in the timeframe they say.
- Work with little oversight.
And in relation to specific services oriented towards helping small businesses grow:
- Provide a growth plan suitable for their stage in the business cycle.
- See possibilities/opportunities that [the owner] doesn’t see.
- Offer step-by-step guides and tools.
- Easily plug ‘n’ play an effective solution.
Other comments and feedback from small business owners
- A vendor, partner, supplier whose mission is to care, care enough to listen, listen enough to know my needs.
- Able to customize their abilities to fit the needs of their client, the small business.
- We want one headache removed, not two added, when we do business with you.
- I want companies that I know when I work with them, I’m working with someone that wants to help us both.
- I’d rather give business to a business that provides good service and a good product.
- A very simple one at the “pre supplier” stage: give me an idea on your website and promotional material of an rough order-of-magnitude budget amount for typical projects and services. Is it 500, 5k, 15k, 50k.
- I want to see prices or at least price ranges. Not that I am a price shopper… But I have to know that we’re at least in the same ballpark.
- I think transparency in pricing is important.
- What we need seems straightforward: We need vendors who partner with us to provide a high quality product or service in the time frame they promise and who do so with little oversight.
- We need them [the partner] to take ownership and watch over our projects as if they were their own.
- I want a vendor who does what he/she says he/she can do, at a reasonable price, and is in touch with me at agreed upon times.
- I think small businesses want to look big. Maybe not corporate big, but bigger than two guys in the garage working 12-hour days to keep the business afloat.
- Many small businesses want a consultant or other resource that can provide a growth plan suitable for their stage in the business cycle.
- In a nutshell, I want service providers who:
- genuinely care about me and my business.
- see possibilities/opportunities that I don’t see.
- are efficient and effective.
- I think small business owners want people, products, and services who can take over and do a competent job without too much hassle.
- I think small business owners want step-by-step guides and tools where everything has already been “figured out” for them– whether it’s a training course or a piece of technology that eliminates the guesswork and lets the business owner quickly and easily plug ‘n’ play an effective solution.
- I really wish there were some easy to find guides for everyday operations. I takes a lot of searching to find the appropriate information.
- One of the more popular answers has been “vendors to partner with.”
- Always keep customers informed, always provide them with the power of choice.
- Customer service and aftercare are two of the most important factors for me.
Frank Ray & Associates is a software engineering consultancy that builds high quality software for businesses.