You may recall that the Merchant Advance Blog has, in recent posts, tackled the intriguing topic of customer-centricity and its effect on your business model, as well as the thorny and mechanics of in-app purchasing and online commerce. We recently happened upon an interesting post by Market Culture blogger Christopher Brown, in which he highlights an intersection between these two topics: namely, Amazon.com and their reaction to a suit by the American Federal Trade Commission on behalf of parents whose children were able to make unauthorized, one-click online purchases through the web giant’s mobile app store. Click here for more information on the FTC’s suit from the Wall Street Journal.
Brown raises some pointed criticisms of the underlying circumstances that led children, who he calls “less sophisticated and financially literate consumers,” to make these kinds of purchases without consent or oversight from a responsible parent, or without effectively programmed security against unwanted purchases in apps. His main argument is as follows: by dismissing its own responsibility for instituting and enforcing controls over in-app purchasing, Amazon is undercutting its mission-stated goal of being one of the world’s most customer-centric companies.
Reading Brown’s commentary made us think: in its spat with the FTC, Amazon may be displaying a lack of one of the core principles that can drive your small business’ success: accountability. By “accountability,” we mean taking ownership of your business’ actions. This concept can take many forms. We know that many small businesses are born from their owners’ desire to strike out and succeed on their own terms, with their own control over how things work: however, any small business may run into periods where its owners may feel disorganized, stressed or unsure as to how to proceed. A shift toward managerial accountability in your small business can be as simple as finding a trusted partner, peer, advisor (or board thereof) or other confidant with whom you can mutually set business goals and hold each other to the terms of your agreement.
Accountability can also become a part of the employee/workplace culture of your business. Any given person should feel like their actions and interactions – be they routine tasks, interactions with customers or with co-workers, etc. – collectively influences a broader outcome: the overall reputation and success of the business. Creating the ability for individuals to efficiently make informed choices and decisions is one of the key ways you can introduce this form of accountability into your small business environment.
Think about how you can create a culture of accountability in your business. Let us know your thoughts and strategies in the comments, on Twitter @merchantadvancecapital, or on Facebook!