In the past few weeks, I have been in the process of updating my mission statement. I wanted to make it more concise and focused. I thought long and hard about what it is that I’m really trying to accomplish. The short answer is that I’m trying to impact the economy in Kitsap County. How? By helping small business owners survive and grow their businesses despite challenging competition.
I’m not anti-corporate, but I LOVE small business. I believe I was inspired by the examples set for me on both sides of my family tree. Both sides have backgrounds as small business owners. That was the main thing that planted our family in Port Orchard. My dad’s parents owned a small restaurant for over 40 years on Bay Street. My mom’s side were all business people. They either owned small businesses or they were in a business role. Small business owners are my people. They are my tribe.
Inc.com published an article titled, “Why 96 Percent of Businesses Fail Within 10 Years.” That rate of failure is crazy to think about, but it isn’t surprising. My experience in business over the past 20 years has taught me that business is competition. I’m not an advocate for a “win at all costs” philosophy, but you still have to win. If that number is correct (and I have no reason to believe it isn’t), then only 4% of the small businesses in my community will be here in 10 years. Only 4% will survive in your community, too. If you work at a small business now, there’s a 96% chance your job won’t exist in ten years.
Further, at the rate that our economy is doing business with Amazon and WalMart, it is even harder for the smaller retailers to survive. At this time, we are also seeing large corporations close stores or are at the brink of total failure. The Internet has radically changed how people shop for goods. It is easier than ever to find information and great prices on the items you want from your smart phone. In the same way that the railroads changed distribution in the United States, the Internet has provided the means to cut out the middle man (the store) and have the items you want shipped straight to your door. It keeps shoppers in their homes, and that is what causes many businesses to fail.
My city of Port Orchard is filled with empty storefronts. People are losing their jobs. The majority of small retailers are gone. People are shopping on their computers now for many things saving them time and money, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Shopping online is efficient.
The businesses who seem to be surviving are service businesses. However, if less people are out shopping for retail goods, then those people aren’t necessarily going to stop at a restaurant or coffee shop as often either. Or, they may not even be aware that the business exists since they aren’t leaving their house. Online shopping impacts every brick and mortar business.
So what are we to do about this? Sell our businesses and apply at Amazon? Some people are. The alternative is to compete. If you are passionate about what you do and you can provide value to the community you live in, then you should compete. I think it is very important to use digital marketing tools in order to survive today. However, I do believe that there is value in the customer experience. People don’t want to stay in their homes 24/7. They want to get out, interact, see the world, and meet new people. They want to have adventures. If you can provide that, you still have a strong competitive advantage over Amazon. Also, if you offer a product or service that Amazon can’t sell at scale, you have another advantage.
It’s not hopeless, but small business owners need to figure out how to compete with the giants. How are you going to drive customers to your store? Why should they get off the couch? What businesses will we see move into the empty storefronts? How can you keep your dream alive over the next ten years? These are hard questions.
However, if you look at business in its simplest of forms, what you see is the exchange of one thing for another. You have to provide a product or service that solves a problem. It has to be priced competitively in the market. You need to make sure people know about it. Lastly, you need to figure out how to get it into the customers’ hands. That is all. That’s marketing. If you can do that, then it does’t really matter how many competitors there are. It doesn’t matter that everyone is doing digital marketing if you can influence someone with a postcard. Digital marketers want you to believe that no other form of promotion works because they profit from making you believe that, but how many of you bought something this week without first seeing it on the Internet? How many of you were influenced by a friend’s recommendation? What about a postcard in your mailbox? Digital marketing is great, but it is just a tool to capture awareness. Nothing more. The only reason it works is because that’s where people are paying attention right now. However, if someone said, “Hey Adam,” that would get my attention, too. Digital marketing tools are valuable, but you still have to be a good operator.
In my travels, I’ve learned that not all business people are great at promoting their businesses. They are usually highly skilled at what they do and have some great business acumen, but they aren’t always good at attracting customers to their business. A roofing company may not be good at graphic design or advertising, but they may be amazing at putting roofs on homes. I need a good roof, so I have decided to help them by providing them with the promotional tools and strategy they need to attract, engage, and retain more customers. I do that for all types of businesses. My plan to help stimulate business in our local economy is similar to what I did to help the businesses I used to manage. However, instead of just helping one business grow, I want to help as many small businesses as possible reach their potential. Ultimately, that’s the mission of Blue Creations.
I offer free consultations to business owners to help them figure out what they should do to help stimulate growth. There are times where what they need to do has nothing to do with promotional marketing. However, if they have a legitimate need to enhance their promotions, I can help. I offer a variety of services that help them promote their businesses effectively. My plan is to do this one business at a time until they are all stronger.
Why do I have the audacity to believe I can do that? Well, I admit that I don’t have all the answers. I don’t think anyone does. However, I can help in my areas of expertise, and the one thing I’ve been able to do consistently in every role I’ve had to is drive sales results. I am good at pinpointing the problems and finding solutions. I can leverage your knowledge of your business to work together to figure out what needs to be done. Once we can name it, we can solve it. I’ve learned that sometimes we are only one good idea away from changing everything. Having a partner who can bring a fresh perspective can be very valuable.
If you are concerned about making sure your business survives over the next ten years, then you should call me to set up a free consultation. It’s worth an hour of your time to get some ideas that could save your business. A lot of business consultants charge for this, but I only charge for the branding and promotional services I provide. Every person I have worked with so far has felt this was a great experience. Some people didn’t need my promotional services, because they had a different problem we were able to pinpoint. Other people realized that they would benefit from my design skills. It all depends on what the problem is. Ultimately, I want to see your business succeed, because I want to live in a thriving community. Together, we can make it happen!