CEOs Share Ideas to Help Independent Retailers Succeed – Post Bulletin

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet CEOs of small businesses. A repeated comment I get in these engagements is “Do you have any ideas for us that will help us as independent retailers?”

Brett Farmiloe, one of SCORE’s content partners, summarized responses from small business owners and entrepreneurs for their top ideas.

Synergize with Google Map Pack. Google My Business allows sole traders to appear in Google Maps and Google Map Pack. Being on a highly visible map and being included in the list of businesses in the area allows mobile users looking for “businesses near me” to locate yours.

For this reason, it’s essential that your Google Business Profile is kept accurate and up-to-date, especially your addresses, hours, and phone number. —Chris Gadek, AdQuick

Use Shopify’s associated services. Technology has not only helped advance, but leveled the playing field for small businesses, and that’s why Shopify has become one of the best resources for independent retailers. Many underestimate Shopify as just a platform to build your business online. But its other offerings create the foundation of opportunities for small businesses. From its technical partners to help with website design, system integration features, industry-specific content, or customer support, Shopify has created a wealth of resources to support retailers.

Also, the affordability of the platform and its associated services has provided the competitive qualities in which independent retailers can thrive. —Greg Gillman, MuteSix

Join the Retail Owners Institute. The Retail Owners Institute is an excellent educational resource that was created to “help retailers avoid failure.” With a focus on retail financial management, the organization offers courses on all crucial aspects of a retail business’ financial viability, as well as tools and calculators that help retailers to project and model. —Stephen Light, Nolah Mattress

Build a strong and lasting network. A strong network is one of the most critical small business resources for success. It allows you to connect with your target customers, find mentors and advisors, and access crucial information on industry trends and new opportunities.

In an emergency, you can tap into your connections for help with marketing, fundraising, and business planning issues. Finding the right people to hire can be easier with a strong network. —Ben Rollins, Axon Optics

Move to digital trade shows. Traditional trade shows are expensive for most independent retailers, who must dedicate time and resources to their business to attend, grow and show off. Adding travel costs to potential lost revenue, most retailers cannot afford to attend more than one show per year.

Independent retailers can still participate in another type of trade show that isn’t as disruptive to business: the digital trade show. With global access to multiple trade shows and events, business owners can enjoy a comparable experience and network within their industry without leaving the comfort of their own home. — Rubén Gamez, SignWell

Consider the potential risks and benefits. Taking careful risks, in my opinion, is the best way to grow your business. What are the disadvantages of a business? What is the most unfavorable situation? With this information, you can take calculated risks that can reap huge rewards.

Choosing the right time to start your business is key to weighing the risks and rewards. For example, is it easier to open a restaurant during social isolation and restrictions due to the severe economic disruption of 2020, or is it more complicated? — Kenny Kline, BarBend

Connect with the local press. Connecting with your local press and other mainstream media channels is a great way to get your business out there. The more you are mentioned in online sources, such as local news articles and blog posts, the higher your SEO will be. Higher SEO means your business will show up higher in search results, making you more likely to be seen by locals and tourists looking for products and services.

Your local media also spread word of mouth about your business as people who read mainstream media come into contact with your content. — Yang Zhang, Plasma

Check out LinkedIn’s essential group. The Essential Group is a LinkedIn community supporting independent retail stores. This group is a good resource with a mission to unite its members to enjoy the benefits of being voluntary traders. Additionally, most independent stores are under pressure from big brands in their community.

That’s why Essential Group has a “brain trust” of professionals collectively known as Essential Business Consultants. These experts help independent retailers identify areas of their in-store operations that need improvement, providing them with the right marketing tools and knowledge to compete and gain traction in the retail industry. —Lilia Tovbin,

Use social media to your advantage. Think of social media as a business opportunity. As an independent retailer, social media is a great resource that gives you empowerment, access to a giant market, and the ability to develop healthy relationships with your customers. The various social platforms provide a large audience base of potential future customers and allow you to build your unique brand voice organically.

You also have full control over your marketing strategy on each platform and can build meaningful audience relationships through engagement. It all depends on how you approach it, and if you decide to use social media purely for business, this will be a great resource to help you succeed as an independent retailer. — Staci Brinkman, Sips by

Dean Swanson is a SCORE Certified Volunteer Mentor and past SCORE Chapter President, District Director and Regional Vice President for the North West Region.

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