Boosting Businesss in a Small Town

Editorial by Dr. Ed Enriquez

The more common expression in the small town business community is:  “I have big ideas but a  small market.”  Many entrepreneurs in small towns face that problem, they cannot grow because they don’t have enough clients in a constrain area. In other instances some small towns have lower income com- pared with the median in the country making it even more difficult to maintain a business be- cause people cannot pay the price.  However the problem of having a few customers is a general situation of doing business in small towns, even with higher incomes. One important strategy is to widen the view, marketing the products and services beyond the city limits, take the uniqueness of a small town business to the out- side word. In Milan, like in many other small towns, we have a great farming community business. If some farmers started producing organic produce, undoubtedly the market within in the city will be limited and unproductive. So the strategy to widen the view must include exploring markets in high demand areas for these products, bigger cities as Chicago, Cleve- land, Toledo and Ann Arbor. The uniqueness of the product of service may bring you clients from outside of town if you widen your view, and therefore your marketing strategies.  A restaurant in Milan may become an attraction if it offers special and unique dining experiences.  As a matter of example the Common Grill in Chelsea and the Hathaway House in Blissfield, where clients are driving, some  from beyond the state’s border.  Making business in a small town does not mean think small or think constrain. Sometimes the solution is be- coming specialized or to embrace a niche.  I know it sounds counter intuitive but the real way to grow is focus, a concept some time which is very difficult for me, as well as for other entrepreneurs.  I know about an accounting firm that provides services only to Optometrist with a radio of influence of 3,000 miles and a significant portfolio of clients. Some time when you embrace a niche you can produce higher incomes due to specialization. Abundance starts with a vision, so start your business niche but persevere to be a finisher, not only a starter even though sometimes it may take longer than you think. I know a couple of friends that went to buy sausage for an event to some place in Ohio,  evidently  somebody created a specialization that made two people travel for 2 hours to buy a product. There is power in focus. Advertise, use the media avail- able to you, social media and web sites to reach different geographic regions.  Get on the internet; do not be scared even if you belong to the era when the only thing available was printed media and telephones. Maybe you are on the internet already, well, power the use I am sure you can do more.

You may need to do some operational changes and improve infrastructure, writing this article I found out that if our hypothetical organic farm wishes to send his products out of the state to restaurants in Chicago,  New York,  Cleveland and other cities it  requires special permits.  Also there’s the need to make arrangements to provide appropriate transportation. So an improvement in infrastructure should be made.  Go meet your clients, get on a plane or in a car meet them face to face.  Participate in conventions or national exhibits. Take your product or service out of Milan, grow big from a small town, widen your vision, increase your territory, focus on a niche. Think big and you will boost your business.

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