7 Deadly Sins, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 7 Dwarves, 7-Eleven, and now…
7 Small Town, Small Business Mistakes you don’t want to make.
1. Jumping on the bandwagon
2. Being too casual
3. Taking criticism personally
4. Failing to shop around for vendors
5. Sticking to local customer markets
6. Making competition personal
7. Not taking advantage of the local Chamber
Jumping on the bandwagon. One of our biggest pet peeves is finding businesses and organizations using Facebook profiles instead of pages. Small towns break this “silly rule” all the time. (See Terms of Service and the definition of a Facebook Page.) Counting out ignorance? Betty asks Joan, who asks David, who asks Tina how she got her business on Facebook. Tina boasts how easy it was to use a company email address to set up a new Facebook account and profile. Now, David’s Lawn Service, Joan’s Flower Shop and Betty’s Bridal have all followed suit. Had they done a little research themselves or contacted a marketing specialist, they would know the complications involved in going about this the wrong way. Small town small business owners belong to a tight-knit family, and that’s one of the greatest things about working, shopping and living in a suburban or rural area. Setting that aside, family members do not always know best. Take no blind leaps. Research solutions, prospects, programs and vendors yourself before playing copycat.
Being too casual. Small towns are fun. For the most part, they’re laid back, easy-going communities where everyone knows your dog’s middle name. Long gone is the white noise of the highway and daily bumper-to-bumper commute. With all of this in mind, business owners should keep their guard up. It’s easy to get lost in the casual environment. Whether it’s letting local gossip slip while trying to get to know a new customer or showing up in flip flops and blue jeans at the local cafe for a prospect meeting, it’s wrong wrong wrong. Love your area, love your customers and enjoy your business, but always keep it classy.
Taking criticism personally. In a small town, this can easily happen. You have to see the complaining customer on Sunday morning, after all. Read more about this no-no here.
Failing to shop around for vendors. This one hits the pocket book. At Kapeesh, we’re huge supporters of local small businesses. It’s important to understand that you can be a #1 fan without going broke. We encourage you to use your neighbors and fellow Chamber members for everything you can UNTIL IT AFFECTS YOUR BOTTOM LINE. A one-time favor or project is no big deal, but don’t be guilted into signing long-term contracts for local pickles at $50 a jar. Make a note of how much you are willing to spend on certain supplies, and stick with it. Online companies and larger cities can often provide the same or better service or product for a much better price. Shop around! Of course, you’ll want to check with the local vendors first to see if they can accomodate you, and many times they are able to work out deals based on a handshake. Lucky you. You’ve got the best of both worlds!
Sticking to local customer markets. Are you online? Yes, but are you REALLY online? Do customers outside of your zip code know about you? If you answered “no” to any of those questions, call us right this instant. No matter how many chairs are in your diner, you should be known by people outside of your little area. We aren’t saying that you should incur the cost to ship products to international customers. We’re simply stating that there should be a level of awareness among out of town customers. It’s easy to fall into an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Don’t do it. Make that customer group part of your marketing plan. Visit bazaars and booth events in outlying counties. You’ll meet new people, and you might even find the perfect town for your 2nd branch.
Making competition personal. This mistake goes hand-in-hand with Taking Criticism Personally. It’s likely that competing stores are run by people you went to school with, buy groceries next to, or see in the lobby of the dental office. If you’ve ever lived in a small town, and I have, you know that curiosity can turn to dislike, which can turn to much worse very quickly. Soon, you’ll roll your eyes at your competitor when you end up at the same car wash. Just as we encourage business owners to keep criticism and hurt feelings at the storefront, leave competitive negativity at your desk.
Lastly, not taking advantage of the local Chamber of Commerce. We LOVE the local Chamber. You can always count on an ample supply of resources and free marketing. Chamber members will always seek out other members for products and services. The events, brunches, seminars and ribbon cutting ceremonies are invaluable. Social media has nothing on the bonds you can find networking within the Chamber of Commerce. Locate yours today, become a member (or ambassador) and stay involved!
As with all lists of rules and common mistakes, the 7 actions above have some flexibility. Take a hard look at your individual situation and apply our opinions.