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No Matter How Large You Become, You Should Always Stay True to Your Startup Roots. This Is Why.

November 16 is National Entrepreneur Day, and we want to celebrate all the self-starters who have committed to the growth of their businesses. But no matter how far your business soars, you should never forget where it all started.

As an entrepreneur, we imagine you are a dreamer at your core. But what really sets you apart is how much you do to make your dreams come true. Your courage and dedication also stand out. You’re not asking for permission to start your own business, launch a new product or enter a new market – you are the captain of your own ship, steering it in the direction that feels right. We know you may still be working from your living room couch right now or a little shop you just opened down the street, but you’re getting closer to your destination every day and, one day, you might not be able to call yourself a small business anymore.

Just remember: no matter how much you grow, always act like a small business!

Your growth occurred because you connected with customers and won their support. So, please don’t abandon the little things that made you such a big hit:

1. Personal notes

They help humanize your business and create a bond between you and the customer. Maybe at some point, you won’t have the time to handwrite hundreds or thousands of notes each day. But even a typed and printed note is worthwhile. Have a “thank you” note automatically generated with each order. And be sure it’s addressing the person’s name as it appears on the order transaction. This is a small touch, but it goes such a long way in establishing loyal customers and giving your larger brand a meaningful depth. No matter how big you get, you always want customers to feel seen and appreciated.

2. Birthday surprises

Go beyond just helping customers feel seen and heard as shoppers – make them feel like valued friends. And real friends don’t forget a buddy’s birthday. Have a “Happy Birthday” email template ready to go for any customer who opted in to share their date of birth and email with your company previously, either through an email subscription or rewards program. Within this celebration message, throw in a big discount or a code for a free birthday gift from your store. It’s a good feeling when people remember your birthday, so be that friend who would never forget their big day. It’s like a birthday card and present all in one little email. And they will be thrilled to spend their hard-earned money on someone who makes them feel special.

3. A customer-first philosophy

Regardless of the phase your business is in, customer service matters. You should always care about the experience your customers have. Implement accessible feedback options for customers and offer discounts for those who participate in giving honest reviews. You’re bound to get some negative feedback at some point. When that happens, don’t resort to a standard automated message as a response – and definitely don’t ignore or dismiss it. This is your moment to show how much you value your customers. Reach out to them directly, apologize, and ask what you can do to make it right. Can you replace the order for free? Pay for their next order? Go above and beyond to fix their situation – even if it means going completely out of your way. This is how real relationships are created, and fast, sincere corrective actions will set you apart from the competition.

Growing into a larger brand can be a challenge, especially when it comes to maintaining the level of personalization provided as a small business. But you must make a real effort to remain true to your roots because it will mean everything to your customers. You can feel proud knowing you’re not just saying you care – you’re acting on it. And actions will always speak much louder than words.

So, as you start to think like a big business, be sure you continue to act like a small business. You will stand out among all the competition in extremely meaningful ways which will, in turn, enable you to continue building your business and dreaming big.


Editor's Note:

Whether you’re hoping to become a big business one day or the “biggest” small business on the block, we have more tricks up our sleeves to help you get there. So, keep tuning into the Zebra ZSB Blog!