When most of us hear the word “boutique,” we think of a small, upscale bricks-and-mortar retail experience – usually offering a choice of exclusive and premium products difficult to find elsewhere. Boutiques tend to have some general common characteristics. For example, the sales staff of a boutique are typically highly-trained to provide a discreet level of personal attention and service. And while we are accustomed to paying a premium price in boutiques, we expect elevated levels of service and superior products.
This represents one way of thinking about what it means to run a boutique business. However, I think that the concepts that underpin this business model can be built upon and applied to other types of small businesses. First, it’s a strategic decision and commitment to emphasize quality over quantity. Second, it’s about distinguishing yourself in a crowded marketplace by offering specialized products or services. Third, it’s really about striving for greater elegance, simplicity and flow in your business.
Let me explain some of the ideas behind this perspective and why we have integrated them into our Boutique Business Model™ that we teach our clients.
Boutique business owners recognize that less is better than more. They don’t want to build a heavy organization or manage a large team. They desire the independence and freedom that running a boutique business can provide. Ideally, they want a business that gives them the freedom to travel and have fun while still managing their business. In a nutshell, the boutique business owner wants the time and freedom to create, to develop personally and enjoy all that life has to offer.
The owner of a boutique business doesn’t want to work day and night to put money in the bank. They want to work fewer hours, offer fewer products and services, and cater to a small number of what we call high-end “Champagne” clients. They don’t try to be everything to everyone, and they don’t have a large team to manage so they aren’t engaged in unnecessary staff drama. Their constant focus is on “less is better” and building an “A-Team” of the right people allowing them to enjoy more freedom and have more fun.
A boutique business can take care of clients in a way that the competition can’t.
A boutique business owner focuses on fewer products and services and charges premium pricing because they fully recognize the value of what they are offering and the exceptional results their clients will achieve. Their customers understand they are paying for a higher level of service and a personal attention to detail that a low-margin, commodity type of businesses can never provide. Their customers also know there is not a compromise on the overall client experience in order to maximize profits.
A boutique business focuses on a small segment of a niche – serving clients who want a personalized experience and who want to know that they are getting the very best products or services. They have fewer customers, which gives them the freedom to surprise and delight – and treat their clients as individual human beings rather than just a business transaction. As a boutique business owner, you’re the expert and trusted advisor that your clients are seeking and for which they are willing to pay a premium. Because your team is small, there is also a direct client contact that larger companies cannot match. Moreover, a boutique business owner catering to the right kind of clients often develops lasting and rewarding personal relationships with their most loyal customers.
A boutique business has a brand that isn’t bland.
The brand of a boutique business stands out from their competitors and the other cookie-cutter businesses. They typically have a unique and creative brand experience that’s designed with high-end clients in mind and these clients are typically their biggest brand ambassadors. There’s a serious attention to the brand experience in every client touch point. The goal is to deliver a unique and high-end experience across the entire customer service journey.
It’s all about doing what you are passionate about while working with your ideal clients and charging what you’re worth.
Can you imagine your business fitting into the Boutique Business Model™? If not, could it be the right move for you?