Yesterday, in All Change Please!, I talked about the need for more enablers – people who help customers solve real problems – and less institutions – corporate focused on their own internal agendas.
This issue about whether you solve customers’ problems or you own internal issues is one difference that separates alternative finance from mainstream banking, but there are other key characteristics that enablers share, too.
Enablers promote relationships. They want to connect with customers and they want to connect customers to other customers.
Connections is what FundingKnight is all about – connecting people who want a better savings return with small, independent businesses looking for competitive business finance – and they are the lifeblood of many enablers like us.
In many ways, institutions have a vested interest in keeping quiet – and keeping us quiet, lest we discover that our next door neighbour got a better deal, or that we’ve become one of those “old” customers who are subsidising the cost of attracting new ones.
Institutions target lone rangers – consumers that are out for everything they can get. No-one can blame the customers, who doesn’t like a good deal, but the institutions often find themselves playing catch up when one set of rate hungry customers leaves in search of the next good deal and a new round of replacement customers demands even better terms to sign up.
So, rather than lone rangers, we’re more interested in tribal gatherings.
Yes, that means we have to be a bit more transparent and work a bit harder to foster loyalty and trust amongst our client base, but we don’t mind. We’re in this for the long term and we want to build a community with deep, long lasting roots.
Lending communities drive value because the more lenders that compete for a loan, the better the outcome for the businesses that borrow. That, in turn, attracts solid small businesses that re-pay their loans and won’t default, which, in turn, rewards those lenders with better savings returns and attracts more who hear the good news… it’s a virtuous circle which keeps turning.
We can imagine a future in which communities matter again. In which customers stick around and their loyalty goes on driving better value for everyone within the community.
We can imagine a community where independent businesses can network with each other and lenders can talk to each other online.
We don’t have all the answers yet, and there’s a lot of development to come, but you see, that’s another thing about enablers – they’re ready to listen… and respond.
Yesterday, we saw a tweet from @BusinessZone referring to an article from June 2011 in which they shared some candid thoughts about the way that people refer to small businesses. It prompted us to go through this blog and remove as many references to SMEs as possible (ironically, we’ve now added on back in!). It took some time, but it’s worth it if it helps us learn more about our community.
We want to shake up business finance in the UK. We want to give peer to business lending the airspace it deserves but, most of all, we want to listen so, if you are a small, owner managed, independent business who’d like to be called something else, drop us a comment below and we’ll do our best to let the crowd decide what the crowd want to be called…