Being the owner of a small business myself, I deeply empathize with my peers who are going through the many challenges this journey has to offer. However, I would advise them against using their status as a small business as an excuse for a job shoddily done. In particular, I have come across two types of excuses I hear all too often, which damage the brand irrevocably and cause fledgling businesses to lose customer confidence in the blink of an eye.
Excuse 1: We did not know .. we are new!
Barack Obama gave an excellent speech yesterday, as he so often does. One particular statement that he made touched a nerve with me. He said: "Ignorance is not a virtue. It is not cool to not know what you're talking about". While he was talking mostly about politics, it applies equally well to all aspects of life and business.
The last thing your customers want to hear is that you did not provide good service or product because of lack of knowledge. Business has become extremely competitive, and if you don't provide a valuable experience to your consumers, somebody else will. When you start a business, you are deemed to be somewhat of an expert in that field, and clients pay you to get some value in return.
Excuse 2: We did not have the time.
Last weekend we had a small party which was catered by a relatively new business owner. I am usually a big fan of newcomers who are trying to make it in this big bad world and feel that they need our support, encouragement and business. However this was one occasion which left me disappointed because not only did they mess up my order, but the excuse they gave was "You know we are a new business, and I had a lot of orders this week. I didn't have time...".
So here is the big learning, especially if you are a small business: you should be trying doubly hard to delight and impress your customers if you are new and small, and not make excuses that you couldn't do your job properly because you are new and small.
Mistakes happen. We all have been through some awful situations. Apologize and put systems in place so the mistake doesn't happen again. Beef up your knowledge. Acquire the right business skills or hire somebody to do it. Inject the right business process and professional ethics. If your business is serious about succeeding, it should start acting the part!