small business

24 Reasons To Shop Small Business

Transition Marketing ServicesWe Shop Small Business & You Should As Well.

We do it whenever possible. Whether it is our coffee, the meat and produce for our summer barbecues, our gasoline or our clothes. If it is possible to support a local merchant, we do it.

Why? Because it builds community. Because these small business owners are people and these people are our neighbours, our friends and our family. They are a part of our community and a part of the local lifeblood of our cities. Supporting them is what any community minded citizen should be doing.

When you make a purchase from a big box store what is that money going towards? Corporate greed? According to a report by Bloomberg Business Week:

“…The AFL-CIO’s average CEO-to-worker multiple at big U.S. companies is 357 [x the average employee’s wage]. Bloomberg’s average ratio for Standard & Poor’s 500 companies is 204; the average of the top 100 companies on our table is 495. That is, CEOs of the companies on that table averaged 495 times the income of non-supervisory workers in their industries.”

How much do you make at your job? Imagine making 200 to 400 x that amount. In the words of Homer Simpson “that’s a spicy-meat-a-ball”.

Of course to cannot pigeon-hole all corporate sales. Obviously their profits go towards more than just Transition Marketing Servicestheir CEO and Upper Management paychecks. Profits from sales go towards their marketing, their sales, their manufacturing and the level of inventory they need to maintain to keep prices low. However consider what these companies actually invest locally – it is next to nothing. Not to mention what do they pay their employees? or worse yet, what do they pay the people manufacturing their goods? It is a pittance.

When we attempt to justify shopping at big stores in order to support their employees (and we have), we are really just supporting the concept of part-time employment on minimum wage with few or no benefits. In contrast recent studies indicate that local small businesses are the largest employer of financially solid jobs nationally in the United States.

Let's not forget that Walmart actually attempted to take donations from others to support it's underpaid staff.

Let’s not forget that Walmart actually attempted to take donations from others to support its underpaid staff.

Oh and all those big signs that corporations put up stating what they donate to charity? If their CEO is making even 200 x the average Canadian, that puts his pay scale at over 10 million dollars annually. Those lump sums that they state have been donated to charity? pretty meager in the grand scheme of things and how much of that is contributed directly from consumers at the til? We’ve all been asked to donate to the Children’s Charity or Foodbank in the midst of paying for our groceries.

All studies point to non-profit organizations receiving on average, 250% more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.

Yes I know that I am standing on a metaphorical soap box right now and no it isn’t comfortable. Do I think that everyone can shop small business every time, all of the time? No. There are certain items that one simply cannot find at local shops and I understand that. However one cannot underestimate the need for our small business community. If the purchase can be made reasonably at a local small business, it is to all of our benefit to do so.

A healthy community begins with a healthy economy and small businesses are an essential part of this.

24 Reasons To Shop Local:

Consider what shopping local does:

  1. It is Better For Everyone’s Bottom Line: Brock University research recently suggested that $3 billion would be added to the local economy if 5 million Ontarians spent $10 of their grocery budget on local foods each week.
  2. It Puts Your Taxes to Good UseLocal businesses require comparatively little infrastructure investment. They make more efficient use of public services than big corporations do when they enter the community.
  3. It Supports Local Decision-making: Local ownership ensures that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.
  4. It Invests Into Local CommunityLocal businesses are owned by local people. They live in the local community, they are more invested in the local community and they are less likely to leave the local community.
  5. It Encourages Local Prosperity: A growing body of economic research points to entrepreneurs and skilled workers, in an increasingly homogenized world, being more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.
  6. It Puts Money Directly Back Into the Local Community: The more money that says local, the healthier the community remains.
  7. Long-term Benefits and Diversity: A marketplace of multiple small businesses ensures local innovation and a wide variety of products and services that targets local interests and needs as opposed to a national sales strategy.
  8. Long-term Better Prices: When a marketplace consists of thousands of small businesses rather than just a handful of large corporations it helps ensure lower prices over the long-term.
  9. It Promotes Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship fuels North America’s economic innovation and prosperity. This is a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.
  10. It Supports a Local Business Owner and Their Family: It provides food and clothes. It means dance lessons for their little girls and a soccer jersey for their son.
  11. It Supports The People Directly Around Us: People we pass on the street everyday. People who could easily be you or I.
  12. It Supports a Livelihood Not a Lifestyle: This isn’t another yacht, summer home or additional stock options for some CEO you’ll never meet. This is the needs of the people who live next to us.
  13. It Boosts Environmental Well-being: When sustainable local foods are grown utilizing humane animal practices and environmentally responsible methods we have assurance that our food is healthier and is making minimal impact on the environment. Likewise purchasing locally made products and services reduce the carbon footprint related to freight and transport needs.
  14. It Generates Environmental Sustainability: Local stores create a vibrant, compact, walkable town center. This reduces economic migration due to businesses expanding outside of the city centre. This in turn reduces automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.
  15. It Creates an Increased Number of GOOD Jobs: Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and within our community. These small businesses create a healthy economic work force by generating REAL jobs.
  16. You Get Better ServiceLocal businesses hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling. They know or get to know the local customers. Small businesses employees are generally more invested and happier which translates to better consumer experiences.
  17. It Promotes Cultural Diversity: Varieties of products, foods & services are based on the local shopping habits, creating an “culturally diverse” marketplace.
  18. It Supports the Future of Farming: Strong local farming ensures local goods can be grown and raised in the future.
  19. Local Food is More Nutritious: Once harvested, produce quickly loses nutrients. Since local produce is sold right after it’s picked, it retains more nutrients.
  20. It Promotes Bio-diversity: Increased demand for local food creates greater variety.
  21. Local Food Growth Keeps Taxes Down: Governments spend approximately $1.17 on services for every $1 in revenue raised by residential development, which increases taxes. Conversely for every $1 in revenue raised by a farm, a forest or open space, a government spends approximately $0.34 cents on services.
  22. It Supports Local Community Charity Groups: Studies point to non-profit organizations receiving an average 250% more support from smaller businesses than they do from corporations.
  23. It Reduces Chance of “Dead” Zones in Cities: Local stores make use of existing business spaces. This creates a lively, compact, walk able town center. This reduces economic migration related to big businesses expanding outside of the city centre.
  24. It Keeps Our Community Unique: Our local small business are a distinct part of what makes our community home. These one-of-a-kind businesses our OUR one-of-a-kind businesses. The create the distinctive character of our communities.
Supporting local businesses and start-ups creates a healthy local economy.

Supporting local businesses and start-ups creates a healthy local economy.

When we make a purchase at a local small business we are setting into motion a series of events that can generate support and sales to several small businesses within the community. Several studies indicate that purchases made from independent, small businesses significantly increase the amount of money used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers etc.

This creates a domino effect of sorts which further strengthens the economic base of the community.  Summaries of a variety of economic impact studies can be found here these include case studies showing that locally owned businesses generate a premium in enhanced economic impact to the local community and our tax base.

  • It supports the property manager of the building.
  • It supports the LOCAL trades people who maintain the building.
  • It supports the LOCAL students who work there (as opposed to outsourced workers through questionable recruitment agencies like Actyl)
  • It supports local product and service providers related to the manufacture and sales from that business.
  • It supports the LOCAL print companies that handle the flyers and posters and print ad’s (as opposed to the large corporate marketing companies).
  • It supports LOCAL tourism. Diverse small businesses are more attractive to tourists and vacationers.

This post came across my Facebook feed a week ago and honestly we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Transition Marketing Services

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

 

 

 

 

A Successful & Minimalist Print Ad

Transition-Marketing-Services

Incredible design work in this ad. Simple. Clean. No bells and whistles.

Beautifully rendered it creates a Venn diagram out of two minimalist images of two well-known animals. Both possess features that represent the product.

In the middle where the two animals meet is the product itself, showing that it is the best of both worlds. Jeep, the prowess of the wolf with the capacity of the camel. Both hunter and pack animal.

The ad itself in all of its simplicity communicates the brand thoroughly.

Very well done.

Facebook’s Auto-Playing Videos: How To Turn Them Off

It’s simple. Auto-playing videos are obnoxious. I don’t want them happening. In fact this is considered a cardinal sin for most web developers. If you design a site that allows a video to start playing automatically you can expect users to veer away immediately.

Unless of course your Facebook – then apparently you can do whatever you please.

There have been numerous people complaining about the new auto-play feature. So many so that we decided to make a simple, easy to read graphic to demonstrate just how you got about shutting this setting off.

  1. Click the drop down menu in the top right hand corner.
  2. From the drop down menu click “settings“.
  3. This brings you to your settings page. In the left hand column menu click “videos.
  4. This brings you to your video settings page. On the right hands side of the Auto-Play Videos option click the drop down and select “off“.

Now this is Facebook we’re talking about so it is entirely likely this will change this layout again as early as next week. For now however, this is the means to shutting the auto-play off.

Facebook-Video-Settings

Innovative Small Business Uses Drone Technology

Innovative Business Uses Drone Technology To Service Customers.

Technology and Small Business.

This legitimately blew our minds! We had heard about Amazon delivering via drone, but to witness such a concept in action – and for a small business no less!

The clip above shows the basics behind it. This ice fishing resort takes the call from the customers out on the frozen lake. The fisherman give him their coordinates, he punches them in and then loads up the case of beer on the drone. The drone then delivers the beer to the door of their shack.

Out of the box and incredible really. It begs the question of all of us: “Are we harnessing today’s tech to our advantage? and if not, how can we?”.

We aren’t saying that a drone is the right fit for everyone (and we would be interested to know the upfront and long-term maintenance costs) but this clip does demonstrate the potential behind tech, innovation and imagination.

Tech is moving more quickly than ever how can we use it to our benefit?

The Top Six Small Business Owner Concerns

Recently Yodle released a report on the top list of worries for small business owners. The report was titled the First Annual Small Business Sentiment Survey and run last quarter of 2013, meaning the data was taken from owners as they prepared for the new year. Yodle drew samples for 306 Small Business Owners from throughout the U.S.

Here is a breakdown of the sampling (for more in-depth detail, please visit Yodle’s official report).

Small-Business-Marketing

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

As you can see the samples were taken from a reasonably wide variety of owners. Most were the sole proprietors of the business and the largest number of respondents had only 1-5 employees. What was surprising was the age demographic for those polled, with over 70% over the age of 50.

Despite some common concerns, most small business owners polled seemed to be genuinely happy with their careers:

“More than nine in 10 of respondents (91%) are happy that they became SMB owners including over half (55%) who are “extremely happy.”  A majority of SMB owners (59%) also shared that they would likely not consider selling their business over the next few years, indicating optimism and satisfaction.” – Yodle.com

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

On top of that, over 50% reported being satisfied with their work to personal life balance:

“52% of SMB owners work 40 hours or less and almost three in four (72%) take at least two weeks of vacation per year.  More than one in four (27%) SMB owners actually take four or more weeks of vacation per year.  However, almost four in 10 (39%) SMB owners work 41-60 hours per week and almost one in 10 (9%) work over 60 hours a week.  Additionally, just 11% of small business owners don’t take any vacation.”

However it wasn’t all positive and many owners reported growing concerns related to both personal and professional strain.

The Top Six Small Business Owner Concerns.

Based on 306 Respondents

Based on 306 Respondents

Each of the concerns listed above is very real and entirely valid to the small business community. Let’s look at each one independently for a moment.

1. Finding New Customers.

It makes sense that this would top the list. For any business to succeed and to grow, they need to increase their clientele. For many small businesses the question is just “how to do that?”. The obvious “boxed” answer is through marketing and advertising, but with so many options out there, how do they know which is best and how do they maximize the bang for their buck?

There are as many different options as there are businesses. Specific business types can profit from specific marketing tools. However there are a few tools in the marketing tool box that apply for every business, regardless of industry and market.

  • Websites: First are foremost. Every business needs a website. This is in-arguable. Everything is online and that is where the bulk of consumers find thins now.
  • Social Media: It creates dialogue. It generates exposure. It breeds loyalty. It builds brands. Oh and it’s free.
  • Signage / Outdoor Advertising: This can range from sandwich boards to vehicle decals, billboards to bumper stickers.
  • Radio: An often overlooked avenue, local radio is still very much a player in the advertising world.
  • Trade Shows: Great place to network, to pass on literature and to establish yourself as a professional voice within your industry.
  • Email: E-marketing can get a bad wrap (often for good reason). However establishing lines of communication with current customs or leads via email newsletters or other materials, can generate sales and customer loyalty.
  • Printed Advertising: (including brochures, sales catalogs, posters, business cards etc.). Print advertising is, and will remain a leading tool for small business marketing. It is everywhere you look. Consumers still use and rely on it for much of their info. It is a necessary component for a well-rounded marketing strategy.

2. Affording Employee Healthcare & Benefits.

More of an issue in the United States where this poll took place (and in light of the Affordable Care Act). This is still a very real concern for Canadian business owners. I have spoken with many owners who struggle to understand and properly facilitate these items. It can range from not understanding the proper deductions and methods to simply not knowing whether or not they have to offer them.

Understanding your obligations to your workers and how best to facilitate them is a necessary step to building a strong team of employees – and a strong team of employees is a necessary step towards business success.

Small Business owners can profit greatly by hiring a knowledgeable accountant with experience in these areas. Of course there are online resources as well to assist in understanding the processes. The Canadian Government provides several pages on their site relating to small business including:

That said, we do also recommend speaking with an accountant to ensure you fully understand business obligations.

3. Keeping Current Customers.

Customer loyalty is a tough one and directly relates to competition. Why should customers be loyal to your business? Why should they choose you over the guy across the road or the big box stores? What will breed loyalty?

There are a slew of different answers and some will vary based on the type of business:

  • Price point: Are you being beat on it? Can they get the same or a similar item for less somewhere near by?
  • Service: Are your providing it? Are you the best? Can you be better?
  • Engagement: Do you know your customers? Are you on a friendly basis? Do you engage them and make them feel special? Do they want to come back?
  • Loyalty Rewards: Do you offer a benefit for them staying loyal? A punch card or a discount? Extra service?

There are many ways to win your customers hearts, but you have to make the effort. Woo them. Treat them like a hot first date that you want to see again. Treat em right (more on “wooing” customers here).

4. Paying Business Bills.

Of course this is directly related to income, which is reliant on sales, which is reliant on customers, which goes back to 1. and 3.

Paying bills is on everyone’s mind but no one more so then the small business owner. Lease (or rent) payments, utility bills, telephone, internet, wages, stock, delivery…. it seems like a nearly non-stop flow of money leaving the coffers.

Knowing how to manage your expenses verses your income is crucial. It is about far more than keeping up to utilities. Small business owners need to plan and prepare at all times. Learning how to maintain and balance a budget on a ever-changing income is not easy (and does require a certain level of “sticking ones neck out”).

The small business owner must be continually considering:

  • Next Months Inventory: Do you have enough? what will be a big item next month? how many should you stock? how much can you afford?
  • Existing Inventory: What of the old items? Do you discount them? hold onto them? liquidate them? how much have you invested into them? will you sell them at a loss?
  • Necessary Expenditures VS Non-necessary: Gas bill and rent are important but do you need someone cleaning in the evening? Do you need that land line or is a cell phone good enough?
  • How Many Employees: Goes back to #2 understanding all of the expenditures related to having employees. Do you hire one? two? one and a half?
  • Planning In Advance: Last month you bought a new til but sales dropped this month and oops rent and utilities took it all. Now how will you pay for this months inventory?
  • The Unexpected: It happens. Water main breaks, laptop goes down, delivery van needs a new transmission, swarm of amazon moths eat your inventory. What then?

5. Hiring Good Employees.

Your employees can make or break your business. Consider the Pizza Hut manager who was recently caught on security tape urinating into the main sink in the kitchen. He obviously lost his job, but not before the video went viral online and did damage to the brand.

Your employees can work for you or against you. They can drive customer loyalty up… or into the ground. It is fair to say this is a real concern for small business owners. Hiring good employees is a challenge and when doing so one needs to consider:

  • Wages: Are they in line with what others are offering? are they fair? why or why not?
  • Benefits: Are you in a position to offer benefits or other bonuses to employees (discounts on products, flexible work schedule etc).
  • Getting The Word Out: How are you letting them know that you are hiring? Where are you putting the word out to? Who is seeing the job offer?
  • What Are You Looking For: And what type of people do you expect to apply?
  • What Is Your Business Rep: How is your business perceived in the community? Do people want to work for you?
  • Do You Know How To Hire: You may not immediately know what the tell tale signs are for a good or bad employee, learn how to filter them out.
  • Don’t Rush: Are you in a hurry to hire? How badly do you need someone? Is it worth hiring that guy with that insisted on wearing rubber gloves throughout the interview? Know when to say no.

We cover more on Employer / Employee relations in a post here.

6. Competition.

Surprisingly number six in the list, competition directly impacts almost every other concern listed her. The competition can steal your customers, your sales even your employees! 

But remember you are someone else’s competition and it goes both ways.

Competition will always exist… at least until such a time as you have enough money to pull a Time-Warner / Comcast deal to basically eliminate the concept of competition altogether. For now however competition is real.

Your ability to out-maneuver the competition is crucial and it hinges on a great number of things. You’ll notice that this list is very similar (ok it is identical) to the list we have for #3 “Keeping Current Customers”. At the end of the day, keeping customers and facing down the competition are mostly the same thing.

  • Price point: Are you being beat on it? Can they get the same or a similar item for less somewhere near by?
  • Service: Are your providing it? Are you the best? Can you be better?
  • Engagement: Do you know your customers? Are you on a friendly basis? Do you engage them and make them feel special? Do they want to come back?
  • Loyalty Rewards: Do you offer a benefit for them staying loyal? A punch card or a discount? Extra service?

The edge you can get, is by knowing your competition. As Sun Tzu said “know your enemy and you will win 100 battles”. Understand what they offer, how they offer it and why. Reach out to those customers with better deals – with more value for their dollar – and with better service and they will give you their business.

It’s simple really. Give customers a reason to choose you. You will find it easier to do so if you know what others are offering them.

Transition-Marketing-Services

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

Entrepreneurship: Little Things To Make You Stand Out

Jerky

Came across this on Reddit (Original Link Here). This guy started a jerky company (PDA Jerky)and in a simple move of pure genius, decided to make his company stand out with one simple little inclusion – A flossing stick.

I know I’ve been camping many times with a nice big bag of jerky. You spend the rest of the day sub-consciously picking at your teeth. This little addition is brilliant.

Amazing how a small thought can make such a big difference. This entrepreneur took a pretty basic business idea and made himself stand out. This is an example to follow no matter what your business model is. Take actions to make yourself stand out from the pack.

What do you think?