Celebrate Small Business Week!

Small Business Week

Small Business Week

As I look out my window, I see trees starting to bud and early spring flowers offering us some color. Those signs mean that Small Business Week cannot be far behind.

This year U.S. Small Business Week is being celebrated May 4-8. Across the country there will be a number of special events and celebrations.

Small businesses are the mainstay in most communities. They may not be the big number generators in terms of revenue but they offer us the services and products we need keep things going. Over the weekend and through today, small business owners have done some spring yard work for me, tuned up my mower, will be providing me with several local foods meals ready to put into my freezer, sold me some birthday cards, helped me get the food items I needed for a birthday dinner for my wife and daughter, sold me some hardware for a home repair, provided some wonderful baked goods, and provided me with some home improvement items. (If you remember the old nursery rhyme, you can think “the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker.” Each one met me with a smile and promptly handled my request. Each one is where I choose to do business because of the service I receive and the relationship we have formed.

Think back. What are the small businesses who have helped you out in the last week? Make list. You may be surprised at how often they are part of our life.

So let’s make next week truly a week of appreciation. Take time to drop in and say hello. Encourage the media to do some Visit the SBA’s Small Business Week website.

For all of us who you have helped, thanks to all small business owners. We appreciate everything you do for us.

Effective Networking: A Key Success Factor for Small Business Owners

Finding answers to your questions often starts with knowing who to call. And knowing who to call is made easier by building and maintaining an effective network. Glenn Muske, small business specialist for North Dakota State University Extension, outlines effective ways to build your network online and in-person.

Check out the Glenn’s small business guide to networking, “Effective Networking: A Key Business Success Factor,” and add it to small business game plan for success! http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cvicollect/3/

Evaluating Your Marketing Channels

It is the rare business owner who does not face the decision of what marketing channel may be best for his or her business. As Matt LeRoux, Cornell Cooperative Extension, notes this question is especially relevant to small food and meat producers.

Such producers see lots of opportunities and may not take the time to reflect on that the costs are, especially in terms of time but also in terms of other lost opportunities, additional costs directly attributable to being in a certain channel, labor needed, risks, and life style opportunities.

To help business owners determine what marketing channels are best for the business, Matt developed the MCAT (Market Channel Assessment Tool). The tool, while designed for the small food producer, has been used for a variety of other business types. It requires a short, one week, record keeping effort.

As Matt notes in the video, business owners do have options to control where they market and over the market. They can set minimum orders, determine the best packaging size, best product mix, and, of course, pricing.

The MCAT is one tool to help owners measure and improve their business. Grab a cup of coffee and listen while Matt offers additional insight into how this tool can improve your bottom lime.

Insight Into Store Selection

Question mark

Photo (CC) Colin K, on Flickr

Recently I came across the USDA ( U.S. Department of Agriculture) report examining “Where do Americans Usually Shop for Food and How to They Travel to Get There.”

Understand this study examined food shopping only, but I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that suggestion in the summary applies to a majority of consumers for a majority of the shopping we do. That suggestion notes that people will often drive by the closest source and instead will go to the store they find offers them the “prices, variety and services” we are looking for.

This statement probably comes as no surprise to you. It certainly is part of my own decision making. But to have it confirmed with a large study and across a variety of income levels is good to remember as the business owner makes decisions. The finding was even stronger as income levels grew and people had an increased likelihood of having their own personal vehicle. But it was there even when people were using public transportation, biked or walked. Being close to the consumer is not necessarily the influential driver of behavior.

The information shared here is just some what was in the report. You may find it useful to read the rest of the report and to follow future reports from the study. It also should reinforce the need to constantly scan the media for information that you can use in strengthening your business.

Scanning the vast amount of data is a time-consuming effort. That is why one of the goals of Power of Business is the curation and sharing of useful information. We are here to help you get into and succeed in business.

Making a Sale or Building a Business

Building tower of blocksIn my career, I have worked with lots of business start-ups. Quite often I hear stories about how good they feel when a customer buys their product or service. And they should be happy. They are verifying that the market does indeed value what they have for sale.

However, our guest blogger this week, Peggy Schlechter, South Dakota State University Extension Community Development Field Specialist, notes that building your business is your bigger goal. She writes, “Building a business is what you do to encourage that customer to return to make future purchases.” Click here for her article that outlines ways to encourage the customer to return.

Power of Business encourages you to read her article. Then decide how you are going to keep the customer coming back.