“Small Businessing” Ain’t Easy

There was a time when the biggest concern a business had was bringing in customers. These days, we know you’re worrying about a lot more. You’re wondering where you will find qualified employees. When you do find them on paper or through an application, you keep your fingers crossed that they will show up for their first day of work, or better yet, the interview. Once you hire them, you hope they’ll come back the next day and the next.

You worry about how you will sell items if you can’t get anything on the shelf. And you’re so very tired of hearing your suppliers talk about the supply chain. Two years ago, you didn’t even think about a supply chain in reference to anything more than toilet paper.

You worry about baby formula or people getting sick, your loved ones, your friends, your employees. You wonder if you should ask the person who’s been coughing the entire time they’ve been in your business to leave. Will they be offended or angry?

You worry that if you raise prices to try to make the smallest of profits to help pay for your gas to get to work or the groceries that keep getting more expensive while the quantities shrink that people will stop buying from you. Lag times and scheduling keep you up at night.

Or you’re challenged with too much need of your product or service and an inability to deliver. You hope that when you tell people it will be two to three weeks before you can meet their needs that your competitors are in the same boat.

You want to learn more, do more, and help more but your profits are dwindling almost as quickly as your “rainy day” money and investments are. Rents are going up and you worry your business’ lease will increase above what you can afford or you worry your landlord will sell your building. Home prices are going up but if you sell now, you won’t be able to find an affordable place to live.

It’s summer and you want to take vacation but there’s no one to run your business and even if there was, plane tickets and gas prices look more like car payments these days.

And you worry about safety.

No, this is not an easy time. But we see you small business owner. We are working to connect need with solutions. We’re talking to municipal, county, state, and federal leaders and voicing what you need most. We are brainstorming solutions for these unprecedented times.

We know you’re stressed and anxious, but we are here for you. Small businesses like yours are the backbone of our community and our country. You are not in this alone even though it can feel that way as a business owner.

While it’s important to have a support system, many small business owners struggle when they turn to friends and family for advice. Unless your family and friends are/were business owners themselves, they likely do not fully understand what you are facing.

At the chamber, we do.

While these are unprecedented times, we are working with all our resources to find solutions. We have experience in business and are bringing business owners together.

We can’t make your anxiety go away, or fix the supply chain over night, but we’re working on viable solutions and growth for all.

And because we understand what you’re going through, we’re sharing the following. Please feel free to use it (or edit it) however you see fit:

<<feel free to share this with your customers>>

We’re Business Owners, Not Miracle Workers

Behind this business is a person and a family.

The employee you’re fed up with or questioning because prices are “too high” or service is  slow, is someone’s mother, father, child, friend, or loved one.

We’re not a faceless conglomerate.

We are your neighbors and we’re doing the best we can working in times no one prepared us for.

And while we seem to have everything together, we’re working round the clock just to help keep appearing like they used to be. In reality, we’re getting by and doing what we can to keep our doors open. A lot of people depend on us–our employees, our landlord, our vendors, our suppliers, our own family.

We are providing you service with a smile today even if you’re not showing us your best self.

And we’ll do it again tomorrow and as often as you want to patronize us. We will be here as long as we can keep our business open.

We thank you for sticking with us while we navigate unprecedented times. And yes, some days we’re going to run out of things or we’ll be short-staffed. That may inconvenience you for an hour or two, but please don’t take it out on the person who’s working a double shift because a co-worker called out.

We love being part of this community, but we’re worried, too, just like you. We drive to work, we buy groceries, we must take off when people who depend on us are ill.

No small business owner or employee signed up for the challenges we’re facing now. But we’re making the best of it—like you are—and we sure could use your continued help and understanding.

Thank you for your support. We want to continue to serve you long into the future—or at least as long as it takes for the supply chain to get untangled.

Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and believes the world would be a better place if we all had our own theme song that played when we entered the room. What would yours be?

6 Ways to Make Your Business Stand Out During a Local Event

6 Ways to Make Your Business Stand Out During a Local Event

 

Does your town host a Wine Walk, Holiday Stroll, First Friday, or other downtown event where they close off streets and encourage people to get out and support business? If so, you may know that those events often bring the crowds but also bring “tire kickers,” people who are just out for a stroll, not really interested in what you sell. They’re just going into each business, poking around, and usually leaving empty handed.

The hard part of that is that you likely brought in full staff to ensure you had enough coverage only to deal with a lot of “lookers.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few suggestions on how to transform your looky-loos into looky heres.

6 Ways to Help Get the Sale

If you have an event that will bring a lot of commerce “tourists” to your business who do a lot of visiting and not much buying, you need to change that with these ideas.

  1. Tell a story. While you may not have the time to do this for everyone in the store, if you see someone eyeballing one of your items in a loving way, go up to them and tell them something interesting about the piece. You’d be surprised what may inspire a sale.
  2. Give a taste. If you sell food or drink, offer someone a taste before they buy. This works to create a sale in two ways: they’ll (hopefully) enjoy it and want more and/or because you kindly gave them a taste (and did something for them), they will feel obligated to buy from you.
  3. Teach a quick skill or use for your product. Draw the crowd into a quick presentation that features a product you sell. Have several products to hand people who want to buy right there. Alternately, have a pro available to answer questions. For instance, a store that sells painted furniture might have an expert on hand to walk people through how to do it themselves. Don’t worry that it will discourage them from buying from you. When they realize how hard it is, they will beg you to take their money.
  4. Get people on your mailing list. You never know when a “tire kicker” may see something in store and decide later that week they must have it. When people are in your store, ask them to join your mailing list. A few days after the event, follow up with a coupon, special offer, or sales notification. That call-to-action will likely send them your way.
  5. Offer a freebie for that night only. If it’s a special night or event, give away a little something to anyone who buys from you or offer specials for that night only.
  6. Create a singalong. In a crowded store, it’s hard to talk to everyone but you want to make sure people have fun and feel the energy of your business. You want them to remember you. A good way to accomplish that is by queuing up the tunes and encouraging people to sing with you. There are certain songs people just can’t help but sing along with—”Don’t stop believing.” You know what I mean. If you don’t, just put on Sweet Caroline and see what happens.

 

 

Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so. 

Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.

 

4 Reasons You Need to Get Involved with the Chamber Today

4 Reasons You Need to Get Involved with the Chamber Today

Businesses join the chamber of commerce for several reasons. Years ago, it may have been expected; just something you did when you opened a business and wanted to be in good standing in the community.

But these days it’s more likely a business joins because there is a direct advantage to them personally. Maybe they wanted a ribbon-cutting or need the advocacy or wanted a marketing opportunity that membership allowed them.

Yes, there are many reasons to join the chamber and tons of benefits your business can receive from membership. But aside from simply writing a check and receiving a set of benefits, there are reasons why you should become personally involved with the local chamber of commerce.

Plus, the chamber extends its benefits to all of your employees so you can use chamber membership benefits as employee benefits. Share this with them as well.

4 Reasons to Get Involved with the Chamber

Let’s place the advocacy, marketing, advertising, and public relations benefits of chamber membership on the back burner. This article is about what the chamber can do for you and your employees specifically, not the business. Yes, the chamber can bring more attention to your business, which can create more sales opportunities, but these benefits and this personal involvement are things that can help you outside of the business.

Education Opportunities

The chamber has a number of education opportunities where you and your employees can learn about important matters for free (or at a very low cost). Chamber webinar topics may include things like diversity, how to excel in social media and economic interests in your area. They can help you become a more well-rounded professional, change careers, or get up-to-date on important topics in the community.

Leadership Experience

The chamber offers a lot of opportunities to volunteer for different committees or events. You may find a volunteer position in a subject that interests you like women leaders, diversity, workforce development, or marketing. Not only can these volunteer positions be added to your resume, but volunteering could also help you meet people with similar interests and help you grow your professional network. Speaking of…

Networking

Getting involved with the chamber can help you meet more people and grow your professional network and make friendships. Even in communities where social gatherings are still mostly virtual, chambers have networking sessions to help you stay connected.

Business Expansion and Hidden Opportunities

As you grow your network, you may learn of additional business possibilities that you could add to your business or you could use to launch a new one. You

 may learn of seed money, grants, SBA funding, or private opportunities.

Often business deals get made before anything is formally published or requested. Being personally involved in the chamber may help you be a part of those types of discussions and make you aware of opportunities before they become public.

The same may be true of the hidden job market. A contact may tell you they’re looking for someone before posting it on a job site, giving you the advantage.

Chamber benefits for your business are amazing. They can really help you increase your number of customers and get your name out there. But those aren’t the only benefits. If you get involved individually, there are many benefits to your professional growth and career. Plus, those benefits can be given to all of your employees too. That can be a real selling point for someone looking for great company culture.

Guest article provided by: Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so.