I saw a post over the weekend on Twitter that said something to the effect of “a big box retailer was packed while this small business had to close.” My assumption is the intent of the tweet was to say that mom-and-pop businesses can’t compete with big box retailers. I don’t think that’s always the case, though.
The business in question was a specialty shop. And it was in a plaza. And I had never heard of it before. My assumption is that it closed because of one or all those reasons, not because it was competing against a big box retailer.
Are you opening your business because you are filling a need in the marketplace or because you like trinkets and think other people also want to buy trinkets? If it’s the latter, then you’re already putting yourself at a disadvantage. You see, just because you’re offering something that you find interesting or desirable doesn’t mean that others will. And if you’re dedicating your entire shop to one product, then it better be the best darn version of that product ever to exist.
Location, location, location
I know it’s a cliché, but clichés are clichés for a reason. A specialty shop in a suburban plaza needs to have something that draws in customers. A specialty shop on the main strip of a touristy town? You’ve already won half the battle. There’s a reason you’ll find a dollar store or nail salon in every plaza in the suburbs and fine goods in metro areas: location matters. Customers are more likely buy from you if they don’t have to seek you out, regardless if you’re selling a luxury item or a necessity.
If you’ve read my blogs before, you knew this one was coming. I’ve said it time and time and time again. If you do not market your business, how do you expect anyone to know you exist? Spend the money on marketing. It’s the last item any new or small business wants to spend money on but it’s the most crucial one as well. Customers will not magically walk through your door because you’ve placed an open sign in the window. You need marketing.
If you want to make money as a small business owner, fulfill a marketplace need. If you want to follow your heart, be prepared for potential heartache. But if you can manage to do both, then you’ve hit the jackpot.
Nadia Zerka an account director at Imagine who later found out the business in question closed because the owner retired, which reminded her of what happens when you assume (and overuse clichés).