Customer service, customer loyalty, customer intimacy, high-value relationships, trust-based relationships, organic growth — these are some of the values every businessman would like to have. These are some values I value.

Market looks for predictable growth, linear at worst and exponential at best. Markets are also merciless — they want topline growth, market-cap bubble, shareholder prosperity, wealth expansion, market-dominance and scale, among others. From being niche providers for services/ products a business is really good at, they are forced to diversify, forced to grow inorganically, forced to have more customers than they can afford to maintain, more offerings than they can afford to offer well. The values I mentioned in the paragraph above are often punch lines, storyboards, hoardings displayed everywhere — but not in the attitudes of the people that run the business.

Reality is that the world has a place for either type of businesses.

The niche people remain niche — they don’t stay open on weekends, some even close daily for lunch, they let their products/ customers do their marketing, they don’t accept credit cards, they don’t fancy industry recognition (JD Powers, anyone?), they just get really good and better at what they always do. The outcome (assuming their products are in demand) is that profits remain healthy; growth is linear or marginally better than linear

The scale people, well, scale well or die trying. They offer deals, discounts, take a hit on profits, do everything they can to not stop the customer from shopping, offer rebates, and do just about anything to amuse (and open the wallet of their) customer.

It is possible to be this or that, or this and that at different points in times, but to be this and that at the same time — there are extremely few in the entire world that has managed to succeed, with a vast majority of them failing.