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Navigate the tricky road of owning a business

Date posted:  5/27/14 06:45:00 AM Customer service is vital for small business success.

One of the first steps to success for small business owners is to keep consumers happy. It should go without saying, but in the ever-changing world of social media and instant communication, it can be hard for small businesses to stay relevant with customers.

Most companies have little to no control over what their clients think and say about them, according to Business News Daily, but there are ways a brand can improve its reputation through the hands of consumers.

Bryan Stephens, president and CEO of Marco's Pizza franchise, told Business News Daily consumers often use a brand's products or services until the brand does something to repel the customer. He said one of the biggest factors for retaining and growing a business is first-rate customer service each and every time a customer enters the picture.

"Your marketing may be extremely effective in getting consumers in the door, but if their experience does not deliver on the expectation, then you have lost that customer, maybe forever," Stephens said. "We know along the way there will be lapses, [but] excellent customer service leads to resolution, and mistakes will be forgiven if they are rectified."

But Stephens said there are a few things consumers will never forget: rudeness and a poor attitude.

Growing a business with additional funds
While businesses should definitely greet customers with positive attitudes, that alone won't help a business reach its potential. Additional money is often needed for growth, but small business lending in the U.S. is recovering slower than other types of business lending, according to LeaseQ, an online marketplace for financial companies and equipment dealers.

The source reported banks held $585 million in small business loans in the first quarter of 2014, which is only a one percent increase from September 2013. However, that is 18 percent less than what banks held in 2008.

While banks and financial institutions have eased their lending standards for medium and large companies, standards remain relatively tight for small businesses.

"For the past ten years, banks have been exiting the small business loan market," Vernon Tirey, CEO and founder of LeaseQ, said in a release. "This has seen a decline in small business credit, forcing small companies to seek alternative financing options to acquire capital for their business."

Tirey believes the reduced number of small banks who are likely to green light a small business loan is because of all the consolidation seen in the banking industry. LeaseQ also stated that bankers are largely looking for bigger and more profitable loans rather than smaller loans granted to small businesses because of increased competition in the banking sector. Thus, startups and small companies have found it difficult to land traditional financing.

A solid bottom line
Allan Young, CEO of ShelfGenie, a company that specializes in customized shelves, told Business News Daily a company is driven by employees who are happy and care about what kind of impact they have on their customers.

Entrepreneur Magazine reported there are a few ways a manager or boss can make employees happy in the workplace, which typically translates into a good work environment. The source reported companies should offer customized rewards for completing a job well done, thank employees for their work and provide workplace flexibility.

If an employee has a situation arise where they can't continue to make it to the office everyday, it's not a bad idea to allow them to work remotely a few days a week. This helps a company boost morale in a difficult situation, and as long as they can continue to manage their workload, it could help all parties involved.