You have to wonder sometimes where the border is in your relationship with users of your software. In my business, given that all of our clients are independent small retailers we get involved in all manner of situations – mainly at their request and in pursuit of resolution of business challenges they face.
Sometimes, though, we find ourselves having to decide whether to intervene. That in itself is usually okay since we are intervening in what I’d call a safe and professional way. Other times we have to decide to intervene where there the stakes are much higher. Like discovering theft by a business partner or discovering that the way the technology is being used is appalling.
We don’t shy away from interventions and with every one we learn more about how to do what has to be done.
I have a situation here which has taken a big chunk of this week. It involves family members at best being stupid and at worst acting criminally to the detriment of another family member. Our job is to determine the scope of the problem, gather evidence and bring the two parties together and let them know. For the offenders this will be the first they have heard about the situation.
Our goal in this instance is to turn the business around and, I suspect, help prepare it for sale.
While we could have stepped back after discovering the problems or even not got involved it’s not how we operate. I’d rather see a small business, like a newsagency, close for reasons other than stupidity or criminality. And every small business which closes in dubious circumstances besmirches the name of that channel and makes it harder for others to get financing and other necessary supports for their businesses. A business collapsing for dubious reasons has many unintended consequences for others in the channel.
This is all on my mind today as I watch Microsoft crawl around the world with their point of sale software for small business.
I wonder if they will engage with small business in the way we do and whether they will intervene if they feel they can help turnaround a bad situation?