7 Biggest Strengths of Local Shops
And how you can build on them.
Remember the 7 Weaknesses of Local Shops? They were crazy popular because they touched a nerve. I acknowledged that some of our local businesses really need to step up to earn business today. This series is the flip side of that idea. Small town stores have strengths, too. Our best local shops know a lot about customer service and community, and every business would be wise to learn from our strengths.
- Get to know you
- Make customers feel loved
- Fewer layers
- More flexible
- More knowledgeable
- Benefiting the local community
Strength 6: Innovative.
The stereotype of sleepy small towns stuck in the past hides a simple fact: Innovation happens in small towns.
“Small towns are still the place where creative ideas are being generated every day,” Tripp Muldrow said, at the Oklahoma Main Street Small Towns conference.
Small town businesses are innovative because we have to be.
We have more limits.
We do without a lot of things big city businesses take for granted. There aren’t hundreds of local banks to choose from. We don’t have millions of potential customers in a 30 mile radius. The services from our city government are limited.
So we just work around these things. We don’t borrow money; we bootstrap. We don’t burn customers and wait for others to take their place. We find ways to do without what we can’t have.
We have to prepare for every possible situation.
Serving our local market means we have to be able to do a lot broader range of things. We can’t rely on just doing on single specialized task, expecting other specialists to come in and do the rest of the work. It’s a small town! We come prepared to handle anything.
We have a limited workforce.
The people available may be younger than we want, may not have any previous experience in our field, may have drug convictions or may be much older than the typical big-city worker. So we get creative. In Elliot Lake, Ontario, there are a lot of retired people, compared to the total population. Jessie, owner of Jessie’s Towing, has to get creative to make the equipment work for older workers. He modifies equipment and tools to take less brute strength. He stays flexible and provides shorter working hours for his semi-retired helpers.
Limits breed creativity.
Jonathan Fields says he’s found this to be true in every creative endeavor, and that abundance can kill creativity.
I believe it, because I see it in so many small town businesses. The limits of doing business in a small town make us more innovative.
Next up: Strength 7: Benefiting the local community
- Survey says: Shopping at small businesses makes people feel good - December 10, 2014
- The boring and overlooked tool that can make your business life much easier - November 24, 2014
- Holiday shopping campaigns besides “Shop Small” - November 17, 2014
- How small towns can do Shop Small Saturday - November 10, 2014
- Use social lists to connect local businesses - November 4, 2014
- Any small town could do spooky storytelling - October 28, 2014
- Customers are switching to small retailers - October 20, 2014
- Why big box stores are getting smaller and what that means to small towns - October 13, 2014
- A great shop local tagline - October 8, 2014
- 5 ways to get your business ready for the holidays, especially if you’re not a retail store - September 29, 2014