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For the rest of us

October 5, 2008

This is a continuation of the previous post, ‘Brave little businesses’.

There are thousands of new small businesses and they are all marketing up a frenzy, so much so that no one stands out from the crowd. Most of us have limited advertising budgets, so how do we compete?

  • First, try to get out of the ‘competition’ mentality. Concentrate instead on doing what you do best in your own way, and you won’t have to compete with anyone. 
  • Consider that who you are may weigh more heavily than having  the coolest folder. I’ve noticed that work opportunities grow out of meeting people one to one, rather than spreading publicity material.
  • And genuine mutual pleasure in someone’s company leads to more business opportunity than having a good elevator speech.
  • The tone of your selling is important. I note a real desperation under so much marketing. It is understandable, you have taken a big risk to set up your business, you have to prove to yourself, others and the bank that it can work, and you have to survive financially; that is a big load for a small starting business to carry. Unfortunately any neediness coming through your approach will scare potential clients away. The antidote to this is in the next point:
  • Concentrate on what you already have and build on that with joyful focused energy. Start out from a feeling of already having enough no matter how the business part pans out. I know this seems unreasonable when money often is the bottom line, but try to get out of a position emotionally where this is true.( read Soul of Money, by Lynne Twist)
  • Love what you do and share your passion with people you know and meet. You enthusiasm will be infectious; people will want to be part of whatever you are doing.
  • Be alert for what comes on your path and take advantage of it. I recently helped a friend at an Elders fair. I did it for free and happened to meet an old acquaintance there with whom I may be able to develop another project.
  • Put down roots in your neighborhood and district;   fill an existing local need  with the work you do. Reach out and collaborate with other small ventures.
  • Create oportunities for others that you would like to have for yourself.
  • There IS enough to go around. Operate from this principle.
  • Once your business is known in your community, grow organically (gradually, naturally)from there.
  • Try to avoid large investments or high operating costs so that you won’t have even more pressure to earn right away
  • Make giving an integral and natural part of your business. Don’t see it as promotion, but as how you would like to stand in the world.
  • There are times when no action is possible. Don’t passively wait for something to happen, but be in a state of positive alertness to any opening which could help you progress.
  • You aren’t in a state of needing, but of having enough and letting this spread by creating channels to share what you do best with the greater community.
  • And, of course, use whatever conventional marketing practices that best fit with you.

I feel that everyone can find at least 10 clients who believe in them and use their services  or products. Let friends and associates know what you are doing and keep developing new ways to share your knowledge and talent. This is called ‘warm networking’ but I see it primarily as a way to build community and create a give and take with the people around you.

The ironic thing is that when the points above are practiced sincerely, they usually benefit your business as well.

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