What good wine can teach you about your small business

By: Robert Peters

Date: 21 May 2012

Business lessons: picture of corkscrew and wine bottle{{}}I like a glass of good wine.

I wouldn’t say that I’m a connoisseur but I appreciate the differences in wines and enjoy pairing wine with food.

Everyone’s taste is different but I have learnt that there are two types of wine.

The first is mass-produced, in massive steel vats. It’s made to taste “popular”. Wood chips are sometimes added to make the oaky taste and the wine tastes very similar regardless whose name is on the bottle.

The second is a whole different story.

It’s made in smaller quantities, often still by hand. The taste is derived from the mixture of grapes, soil, conditions and love with which it’s made.

Wine like this is often the life’s work of the producer — an expression of the best he can offer. He marks his name on the bottle with pride. The small producer’s wine is sought after for its uniqueness and quality —for which he is well paid.

Your small business is like wine

You have the choice to brand yourself like everyone else, be mass-produced, or stand out in your marketplace.

You want to stand out?  Here is how to do it with some help from the world of good wine.

Be unique

Don’t try to be like everyone else. Your knowledge is unique. Even if you sell similar products and services as others you have a unique experience, unique stories and illustrations. Be yourself, express yourself and let people see what you stand for and how you can benefit them.

If you’re not unique you’re a commodity. You won’t be sought-after for the value that you bring to the market. You’ll join the ranks of small businesses that compete to offer the best price and face poor margins.

Be authentic

Building a successful, profitable small business is about building fantastic customer relationships — relationships that are built on trust.

To build these relationships you, your small business and your products and services have to be trustworthy.

Don’t be like the wine producers who add flavours to wine, be real.

Be genuine in your marketing, explain the benefits of your products and services and how they solve the problems of your customers.

Use testimonials from satisfied customers to show that you have been trusted by other customers and helped them.

If you’re new to your market offer a money-back guarantee for your services and stand by it.

These things help prove you’re authentic; show that you offer value and that you're a person with a small business worthy of trust.

Be quality

Good wine isn’t just a drink. If you’re thirsty you drink water — good wine is part of an experience, enhancing a meal, celebrating with friends and family or relaxing with a partner.

You need to make your products and services so good, of such quality, that they bring an experience to your customers.

It doesn’t matter what you sell, be the best you can be. Always leave your customers feeling “wow!” and that they have received such value from you.

Also ensure that the quality of your service is consistent — like the good wine from a small producer whose last bottle from a batch will taste as good as his first.

Don’t ever let your service slip because you’re busy, having a bad day or your mind is on something else. Treat every customer like they are the key to your success — because combined they are!

Is it worth it?

After all, the supermarket shelves are lined with bottles of mass-produced wine.

Yes. It’s worth it because when you find good wine, you keep going back for more. You tell your friends and if you’re like me, you carry on buying the same for years.

Uniqueness, authenticity and quality never go out of fashion.

Robert Peters is a Small Business Advisor and Director of Fresh Eyes Consultancy.