How to Expand Your Local Small Business?
1. Be intentional about developing authentic relationships.
Being local is all about community. One of the reasons why small businesses are flourishing is because their owners tend to have more time or make more time to engage with customers and other owners. They play a vital role in the health of local communities. According to an article in The Houston Chronicle, “Small businesses also help stimulate economic growth by providing employment opportunities to people who may not be employable by larger corporations.” For example, college students who have not graduated are an excellent resource for internships. In turn, they develop necessary skills for permanent employment. In addition to building relationships with local universities, think strategically. Create alliances with other professionals from diverse fields including: finance, shipping or graphic design for example.
2. Take every opportunity to crowdsource. Social media is an integral part of any business plan.
It is an ideal way to generate traffic through connections, promotion and collaboration. Your crowd, tribe, fans and/or supporters want to connect. Never be afraid to ask for help and support. Platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and RocketHub are another great way to connect on a larger scale. For some, these sites are less intimidating than the typical door-to-door sales pitch and allow contributors to explore your brand on their own time. Fundit, a new mobile funding platform out of Portland, Ore., is building campaigns for food trucks while giving back to hunger charities.
3. Be open to advice and change.
Not all startups get where they planned at the beginning. Many had to pivot. Most of small businesses cannot afford expensive executive advisers, but you can form a virtual board for your business. Look around; there must be 2 or 3 friends or family members that you could spend time discussing your plans, say once a week. They may not have a substantial experience of managing a small business, but maybe life has taught them a very relevant lesson that you could learn from. Be patient, be open and be receptive.
4. Read and then read some more.
During your free time, read!! You will learn new ideas to implement into your business and share with customers. Grow Your Handmade Business by Kari Chapin is a clear and concise “how to” book on how small businesses are born. Jon Acuff’s latest book Startempowers the individual to be proactive in their dreams and to ignore the effects of fear and insecurities.
5. Apply for contests and community fairs that support local vendors.
Flea markets and craft fairs are prime places to make new small business alliances and to form new relationships! Your city website should have event listings for links to these applications and their deadlines. Customers want to see YOU. Allowing them to see and possibly purchase your product in person is not only valuable but also makes a lasting impression. In a digital world, personal connections are still king.
6. Customers want to know your story! Be proud of what you’ve created.
Every owner I have spoken with started from the ground up. It’s all about putting on that smile of yours and reevaluating the importance of local. Then grab a camera phone and share your ideas, tips, passion and experience. You will help someone to avoid some of the pitfalls you’ve encountered. And sharing is therapeutic. Reflection will generate more ways to improve your business.
7. Don’t give up.
While this tip is easier said than done, it is so true in the business world. Many business owners have the same struggles to reach the public so communicate and remember every journey is a day-by-day process. You are just one sale away from victory. So ring it up!
8. Digital and social marketing, the more, the better.
You need a digital marketing plan. Most of them are free of charge or very affordable. For start need a domain name to build a page on the web, and a Facebook fan page. There are companies specialized on digital marketing for small businesses, see StartiT as an example. Don’t forget to build your profile on locoBiz.com and post few ads for the local markets you aim to see your services and products.
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