Business Growing Pains: Business superheroes and supervillains

Previously: I cannot believe how antiquated the business world is. We are living well into the second millennium and we are still running on a system built by people in the first one. I hope that these stories may help anyone that reaches the same stage I am now at. Warnings, really. What to expect. And how to avoid them. So, on then, with the Business growing pains (Read full prologue here and Banking Story here).

I think one of the most interesting and exciting pays off business is the fact that everyone, in one way or another, has it in them to stay a fresh venture.

Truth is, not everyone gets the chance though. Which makes it all the more important for those with power to help those who take the initial leap of faith in business.

Sadly, contrary to what the government would publicise, there is little support for new businesses out there. Don’t misunderstand that, there is a lot advice or there. A lot of advice. Some nuggets of pure gold, others are more in the region of fecal nuggets. Far be it from me to judge that advice, and that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about actual support.

In order for me to define support, I need to explain it in the context of giving. If my dog wants dinner, I can support his needs by providing from my larder supply of dog biscuits. Needs met, dog supported. If I wanted to support my dog’s quest to catch and eat the neighbours cat, I’m helpless. I may want to help. But the cat isn’t mine and I’m in no physical state to catch agile kitty. There’s no way I can support my dog here. One has to have, in order to give. And the support that I’m referring to here is in this context (not dogs and cats specifically, just to clarify!).

Ever heard the phrase ‘those who can, teach’? (‘…those who can’t, teach p.e.’). And ever considered how selfish a superhero would be to gain super powers and not use it to help people who need his/her support?

You’ve probably guessed where I’m going with this. But I risk believe after 9 years of business, there is a massive responsibility for those who have been largely successful in business to help fuel the next generation of businesses. And there are a thousand and one business superheroes out there ‘sitting on their super powers’ – the ultimate act of selfishness.

I’m referring quite specially at the national and multi national companies that rule the business world. When they were first starting out, they were able to utilise new markets long before substantial and hindering red tape was ever introduced. I mean just listen (or read Alan Sugar or Steve Jobs) early business history. They jumped upon market gaps that literally would not exist in today’s world.

That’s not to say there aren’t business opportunities out there, because there are. But when these opportunities arise, business principles and instincts are capped and hindered by politics that today’s successful never had to endure. And I think that’s why those who have the resources should support the newer startups.

Here’s a practical example. Coca-Cola. A brand so well dominating that text is instantly recognisable in any language. Their annual revenue $44000 million. So it really annoys me when I see ‘part of a multi pack, not to be sold seperately’ on every multi pack can. Would it really dent their profits so much to allow small businesses to buy in bulk and sell it on – for a profit so small Coca Cola wouldn’t even notice? That’s just one way that the young entrepreneur spirit gets crushed. Perhaps a bit of a crazy example, but you can see where I’m coming from, right?

None of these posts are purely smoke without fire and this particular flame stems from a recent business frustration with Microsoft. This is probably a safe subject as I imagine Microsoft are in most people’s bad books since the recent NHS hack in the UK courtesy of the software giant.

But this problem pre-dates the NHS disaster and, in relative terms, is a lot less serious. But none-the-less, Microsoft’s classic attitude of giving technology a bad name was as evident as ever.

As a graphic designer and person who doesn’t like to update their office machine every other year, I use an apple Mac. This has minimised the amount of interaction I have had with Microsoft of recent years. And over this time, my distrust and frustration with Microsoft has slowly evaporated into almost fond memories of my earlier education. So when I came up against a problem with a Microsoft problem, I almost expected their now-evolved team of 2017 would be ready and keen to help. But sadly, I was wrong. I was quickly reminded of how little Microsoft care about their customers, much less their small business customers.

Without getting into technical details; what started out as a simple problem has cost me and my business weeks of office hours, several hundred pounds and a still unresolved issue that Microsoft seem unwilling and unable to fix. As I was passed between two departments in Microsoft a grand total of six times, my twelve emails, 3 phone calls and 4 live message chats left me with like-for-like from-the-manual responses that lack any sense of compassion or remorse for the faults their software have caused my business.

To this day, the problem remains unfixed and I’m yet to receive any kind of genuine support from Microsoft – or even an apology. (You can read a full breakdown of the problem here) And why? Simply because as their business grew, they lost the heart of business. The pursuit of businesses growth and financial gain far outweighed the desire to actual help people. It’s a sad trap that most large companies fall into.

So what’s the lesson here? Well there’s a few things to say. The first of which is to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Of you are only doing it to make yourself rich, you may succeed. But in all likelihood, your customers will see through it and choose another supplier. I’m not saying the customer is always right (far from it!), but I am saying that a love for your trade is far more valuable to a customer than a cheap price. Pay half price, end up paying twice.

The other thing to learn here is more specific to the services you choose to use. Instead of automatically going for the big names, remember the smaller names care more for their customers any day.

And lastly, don’t use Microsoft of you can at all help it!! Haha.