When asked if they have any advantages as a small business, many owners respond negatively.
The fact is, small-business owners, especially those in rural areas and small towns, have many advantages they can use to enhance the success of their store.
Knowing the audience is a huge advantage. Yet they often do not make full use of this close audience connection.
Knowing the audience allows an owner to more completely understand the problems his or her client is having. It also should help develop brand advocates. They are people who, via words and actions, sell your store, products and services for you. They do this because of the trust that can be developed in such close relationships.
Local owners also can be very responsive to special needs. If the owner does not have an item a customer needs, the fix often can be found by checking with suppliers and using the myriad fast delivery opportunities that exist.
As business owners have noted, knowing their local audience allows targeting specific groups to keep them informed when products become available that you, the owner, know this person is interested in. What a marketing opportunity.
Another advantage of the local business owner is the ability to be nimble. Market changes and trends are easier to spot. With the ability to shift product mix quickly, the local business owner can lead the big retailer in being prepared to meet new demands.
The ability to be nimble comes from another advantage, that of having local decision makers. Seeing a trend and taking advantage of it requires someone on the scene who can execute a decision. The owner/manager has the freedom to make those decisions.
Local community involvement is a major opportunity for the small-business owner. Yes, they have a business to run, but often it is the local business people who are involved at the heart of various civic and charitable organizations. Money and donations are important, but they often give of their time.
Such civic and leadership involvement helps more deeply entrench the perceived value of the business, thus strengthening its brand.
Being successful as a small-business owner is a challenge. Small-business owners face a variety of competition and each has certain advantages.
Yet being a small-business owner brings a set of advantages that creates real strength and opportunity. Put them in your toolbox and make full use of them in your business.
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.