I was talking to a friend of mine who works in product design at Dyson and he told me about a workshop they ran for a college once, the idea behind it was the students would design a model car as part of an exercise to teach them about design.

After viewing a few of the students attempts my friend came across a model car that was clearly the best looking out of all of them and it had the most detail, the student was pretty impressed with himself but this was short lived as the next part of the exercise was to build 5 more exactly the same.

It might sound as though the “S” word I’m talking about is standardisation but it’s not, this blog actually looks at sustainability and how important it is for a business to behave in a way that it can maintain as it grows.

I’ve noticed over the years that business owners make a lot of decisions based on gut instinct, off the cuff as opportunities present themselves, this is undoubtedly one of the skills that allows them to survive when so many businesses fail, but this could also be the very attitude that might prevent them from succeeding.

After all there’s a very big difference between surviving and succeeding in business and it can often be the case the decisions a business owner makes at the start of their business can have a knock on effect that could hold them back later.

One of the greatest areas of risk for growing businesses are the expectations they create with their customers, after all when an entrepreneurs trying to gain that initial client base so that their business will still be around this time next year it can be easy to drop a price or throw in extras for free.

This kind of flexibility with pricing can achieve a business’s short term goals but it’s important to consider how the clients will react the next time they come in and don’t receive the same discounts or promotions.

Sustainability goes both ways and it’s not always enough to ensure your own business survives, where it’s clear that suppliers are a key contributor to its success then their wellbeing needs to be factored in and yes that can often mean paying a fair amount for their services.

Businesses are continuously reminded that the highest standards of service need to be achieved but what happens when a customer is given an experience that can’t be replicated again, is it more noticeable than if they had never received it at all.

One of the questions I always ask myself when I go that extra mile for a client is could I also do that for all of my clients and what would it mean for my business if I did?

This can sound like quite a cold way to look at things but when a client refers you they can go into a lot of detail about their experiences with your business and this can often lead to new clients having certain expectations before they even start.

The most important quality in a business is working in a way that’s consistent and sustainable, it’s better to deliver 60% on two occasions than deliver 100% once and then 10% thereafter.

This ethos contributes to the success of companies like McDonalds and Subway and while they aren’t always the best role models for small businesses that are full of character their customers are rarely disappointed.

So next time you do something new in your business, use the “S” word and ask yourself if you could do it again a hundred times to provide the same customer experience.

I’m an accountant based in Northampton and the relationships I build with my clients are designed to stand the test of time with the focus on providing a quality service that meets their needs year in year out, if you’re interested in finding out a bit more about me then please get in touch.