When small business owners they think about quality at all, either they think they know all they need to know about quality, or they think quality is not all that important.
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Small Business Success Tips - Quality

You can learn all the techniques, tricks, and procedures of any and every aspect of business, but unless you understand quality, you will always be fighting an uphill battle.

The problem is not that quality is hard to understand, but that most small business owners pay it little attention. When they think about quality at all, either they think they know all they need to know about quality, or they think quality is not all that important: that "good enough" is good enough. They miss the rewards that come with establishing a reputation for quality.

For your own sake, pretend for a minute that maybe you might to some degree fall into this category, and read on.

Quality is about making things better. It is about doing things better, and improving results. In other words, quality is an ongoing action, not an achievement. No matter how good your business is doing, it can be doing better. This is the first and most important thing to know about quality. Whether your business is brand new or well-established, it can improve.

Improvement does not happen by chance. First must come the intention to improve, then the action needed to turn the intention into a reality.

Sometimes the action works as expected; sometimes it doesn't and a different action is needed. As long as the intention remains intact, eventually the correct action will be found. How quickly an intention is turned into reality depends on how quickly the owner can recognize results and adjust his actions as necessary.

Why a struggling business owner would want to improve his business is obvious, but why would a successful business owner want to improve his business? Because other business owners are always competing with him, doing their best to take his customers and clients away. They are improving their quality, or lowering their prices, or advertising more.

A reputation for high quality leads to customer loyalty, even against lower prices. Panera Bread, for example, is expanding during a recession solely because of its deserved reputation for quality, even though competitors offer less expensive meals.

A reputation for high quality also leads to word-of-mouth advertising, the cheapest and most effective form of promotion outside of a viral internet campaign (which is actually just a form of word-of-mouth advertising).

Many small business owners believe that higher quality is more expensive to produce than "acceptable" quality, and that many customers can't tell the difference and so won't pay more for higher quality. The second idea is not entirely false, but it ignores the fact that many other customers CAN tell the difference and WILL pay more for higher quality.

As for higher quality being more expensive to produce, that idea is almost entirely false. While better raw materials and higher-skilled workers do cost more, that cost can be offset by higher volume of sales, and training your workers to higher standards. Learning how to reduce errors and waste (i.e., improving your business) will also keep costs down.

Quality alone is not a magic avenue to success, but when applied as an underlying business philosophy and intention, it comes pretty darn close. Applying the principles of quality to all aspects of your business (management, sales, production, accounting, customer service, etc.) will inevitably lead to expansion and a better bottom line.

The first step is to recognize that no business stays at the same level for long. It eventually either gets better and expands, or it contracts. The second step is to choose which way you want your business to go.

Quality doesn't mean being perfect; quality only means constantly improving.

Don Dewsnap is the author of Small Business Magic, published by Oak Wand Publishing. Small Business Magic details the principles of quality necessary to business success, applying to all aspects of business from production to sales. The principles of quality are not well known, and almost never applied to their full potential.

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