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  • Delivering what customers want is vital for small businesses

    Major corporations such as Wal-Mart, General Motors and Apple are often in the headlines after major economic moves, but according to the Small Business Administration, startups and smaller firms are still the backbone of the nation's employment base.

    Small businesses must recognize what it is their potential clients are looking for.As cited by Parade, the Small Business Administration stated that 99 percent of American employers are small businesses.

    Jon Taffer, host of Spike TV's Bar Rescue and a two-time Bar Operator of the Year award winner, is well-aware of the perils and ins and outs of starting a small business. Taffer told Parade he's seen the same mistakes from small-business owners in a variety of industries, and he's giving out a few tips that owners can count on.

    He said often, new small-business owners fail to keep the right priorities in place. Many of them lack experience and don't even know the right questions to ask if their business doesn't go as planned. Some startup companies without knowing what kind of services their customers seek.

    "The most important thing to do as a business owner is not to deliver just a product or a service to your client, but to think of your business as delivering an entire experience," Taffer said. "This is true whether you're selling beer, cars or cell phones. From the time a customer enters your store or arrives at your website, everything must drive her toward having a cohesive, unified and immersive experience."

    Do your homework
    Taffer implores small-business owners to thoroughly research the type of customer they wish to attract. He said it's important to note their likes and dislikes, schedules, incomes and family size in order to deliver the products and services that the desired customer wants or needs.

    Two small companies that are surging due to an understanding of its client base is The Produce Box and DoorStep Produce, both of which are based out of Wake County, Ind.

    The Produce Box and DoorStep Produce deliver produce year-round to the Wake County area, removing the need of grocery stores and farmers markets for buyers looking for fresh produce.

    "A lot of people really like the convenience of it, and that we're trying to support our local community," Bobby Hilburn, owner of DoorStep Produce, told Indy Week. "And some people just like the idea that if a box comes, they will eat it, which tends to cause them to make healthier choices. One woman said she had three children under 7 who got excited each week as they tried to figure out what salad they were going to make out of the box."

    New local products are posted online and customers are allowed to customize their delivery boxes. In order to meet all of those consumer requests, the process can take a significant amount of time as business owners bargain with venders in regards to what is readily available at an efficient price.

    "Every Friday when we're building our boxes, we're looking at what the farmers need to harvest and what we know the members want," Courtney Tellefsen, The Produce Box's owner and founder, told Indy Week.

    Employing the right kind of people
    Hiring the right person for your business can mean the difference between boom and bust. Taffer said that past work experience means little when looking for the right person for the job.

    "Often candidates are overlooked during the hiring process because they don't have work experience in the position that needs to be filled," Taffer told Parade. "This is a mistake. It's far more important to hire people who are motivated and willing to learn."