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Entrepreneur

Minding Your Small Business’ P’s and Q’s

By Tom Irmen

I remember my mother frequently directing this expression to me as a small boy. While I didn’t know what P’s and Q’s meant, she left little room for doubt as to what her intent was.


P’s and Q’s, according to Wikipedia, is an old English expression meaning “mind your manners.” The P’s for “pleases” and the Q’s for “thank yous.” The presumption being, of course, that little children mispronounced pleases and thank yous as P’s and Q’s.


So what do P’s and Q’s have to do with your small business?


I’ve never believed that there was any single factor that was responsible for the overall success of a small business. I believe rather that success results from performing a multitude of small items well, consistently, and persistently.

What items am I referring to? Here are just a few items:

  • The exterior and interior appearances of your business
  • Your attire and that of your associates
  • Your merchandising efforts
  • Phone etiquette
  • Professionalism

Customers and, more importantly, potential new clients notice these seemingly small things, and these small things can add up into one big thing – the decision to take their business elsewhere.


I’ve personally witnessed customers ignored by owners and associates who take personal calls on their cell phones. Or how about stores that open late, close early, or close for lunch without so much as a note on the door? And you’ve got to love the barking dog, screaming children, or television blaring in the background when you try to conduct business on the telephone.

Like it or not, you’re judged by every customer or potential new customer that talks to you on the phone or enters your small business. If you think glancing at your smartphone or, worse yet, answering it while conversing with a customer is acceptable etiquette, you’re wrong. You’re telling your customer that your time is more valuable than theirs.


The option is yours, but remember… your customers have options, too.

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