Between big competition and smaller budgets, small businesses face unique challenges on a daily basis. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to mitigate these challenges and grow your small business, like taking advantage of social media and banding together with other small business owners. What’s more, you don’t have to do it alone. With these simple tips and the support of ‘buy local’ organizations like Independent We Stand, your small business can tackle any challenge, big or small.
Establish a Web Presence
An impressive 97 percent of Internet users look for local goods and services online. Make sure those customers find your business by promoting it online. If you don’t have the time or resources to create a website, be sure to list your business in online directories, so that customers can easily find and support your business. Qualifying small businesses can sign up for free to be included in the Independent We Stand Local Business Search Engine.
Celebrate Your Independence
Consumers understand the huge impact of independent businesses on local economies and are willing to go out of their way to support them. So celebrate the fact that your business is independent and locally-owned. Download free marketing materials to display in your store front and let shoppers know that your business is locally owned.
According to comScore, more than 57 percent of U.S. consumers own a Smartphone and three out of four have contacted a business they found on their phone. So make sure your business can be easily found by mobile phone users. If you are a member of Independent We Stand, your business is automatically included in the mobile app.
As social media continues to grow, along with it grow opportunities to market your small business. Not only can you reach new customers via social media, but you can do so for free. The only cost to your business is the time you spend posting. Independent We Stand offers members the opportunity to engage with customers on social media by sharing posts and links about the benefits of supporting local businesses. These posts reach thousands of people every day, but by “liking” our page and sharing our posts with your fans, we can spread the word about small business even further.
Join a ‘Buy Local’ Group
There is truth in the old saying, “strength in numbers,” and joining a buy local organization is no exception. According to a study by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Independent retailers that are in communities with a “buy local” initiative reported revenue growth of 5.6% on average in 2010, compared to 2.1% for those elsewhere.
Small business owners are the first to step up when their community needs them and the last to take credit for their goodwill. This is because these mom and pop businesses are not looking for bragging rights or credit for taking the moral high road. They are doing what comes natural, and offering their assistance whenever and wherever possible. So let us brag for you! We love nothing more than to toot the horn of a deserving small business. We’ve even created a series of “Real Indie Stories” to recognize those indie businesses that do exceptional things for the community. Send us your story to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll share it with our fans, because every small business owner deserves to be celebrated!
Find a Niche
Maybe you’re a co-op bike shop whose employees are the owners; maybe you’re an indie coffee shop that found a way to use recycled coffee grounds to grow produce. Find what it is that makes your business unique and different from any other business out there. Consumers want to try new things and that’s part of what sets your business apart from the big boxes and national chains. So embrace your weird, fun, quirky attribute and go with it!
Get to know your fellow small business owners and find ways to work together to accomplish a common cause. Small business owners share common challenges, regardless of niche. They also share common benefits, such as quality products, vast expertise, and stellar customer service. By connecting with your fellow small business owners throughout the community, you’ll develop long-lasting allies to support the ‘buy local’ movement in and around your community.
Practice What You Preach
Get in the habit of buying local whenever possible. As a small business owner, you know better than most the benefits of shopping at independently owned businesses. Therefore, small business owners are in the best position to support other small businesses, both professionally and personally. Be a role model for your friends, employees, and customers by shopping local in your day-to-day life. To find other local businesses in your area, use Independent We Stand’s local business search engine.
Engage the Community
Encourage members of your community to take action in support of the ‘buy local’ movement by participating in small business events like National Small Business Week and Small Business Saturday. These events teach people the benefits of buying local by encouraging them to do so in large numbers. Make your customers aware of these special events by sharing our promotional materials on Facebook and at independentwestand.org.