The Next Big Thing is 1,000 Little Things

Have you visited the Small Business Revolution site?

No? What are you waiting for? The videos are about 20 minutes each for the Main Street section. There are 100 other pieces to gain knowledge from… all easy reading and even shorter videos.

The introductory documentary is outstanding. The title of this post is actually a quote from the documentary.

A successful small town isn’t about one big event or a couple anchor stores!!! It’s about each of the small businesses – the mom and pop shops – that create a community. Each business brings a unique product or service to a unique customer. Each of them adds potential to their fellow businesses. The folks who visit the spa may go to the natural foods store. The tattoo parlor customers may enjoy a meal while in town. The gift shop or antique shop customer will quite often return for an event. The bride who purchases her gown and plans her special day may also visit shops for bridesmaids gifts and enjoy a get-together in one of our fine eateries. Those who stay at our B&Bs or dock at our marinas are potential customers for every business in our downtown. Every customer is a potential visitor to one of our art galleries, music events, or theatre productions. It’s the 1,000 little things that create the community where people want to visit, to spend their time and money!

I’ve written before of the 21 million plus self-employed with 0-4 employees and another 3-4 million with 5-10 employees. You are important to our economy. In the documentary when wondering where all those laid off employees went following 2008 large corporation downsizing, hundreds – even thousands – started their own small business. That’s our ‘pioneer spirit’ and it is not dead!

But I can’t start my business and cry out that it’s not working!

I first must really look at my own business and at myself. What do I need to do? What do I need to change? How do I find my customers? Am I paying attention to my inventory costs? What do I need to learn? What has changed in the economy, in my community, that I need to understand in order to find a solution?

So many questions with answers everywhere. But I have to do the work. Anyone who knows me knows how frequently I say, “Google it”… there’s so much free information for pretty much any question I have. Add the videos on YouTube and it’s even easier if I prefer to watch rather than read. In addition, there are now podcasts (like a radio program) on nearly any topic I have an interest in. I can find thousands of free podcasts on iTunes that I can listen to anywhere, even a morning jog! Twenty years ago, I would spend my time hunkering down in a library … today that information is everywhere. Just as connecting with my customer is easier than ever.

The downside is that there is so much information that I often can’t make a choice. It’s time to discover ‘discernment.’

Discernment: the ability to judge well

I can read, watch and/or listen to thousands of books, videos and podcasts. But it will only add to my confusion unless I can search more specifically. If I’m being honest with myself and I need cash flow, I now can narrow my search. The more specific my question, the easier it is to zero in on the answer.

Starting and growing a small business is not easy, though most owners believe it’s worth the effort on so many levels. Autonomy is at the top of my list. Living my passion is another value I treasure. If I’m struggling with being successful, I must look at my business and see what’s missing. I may lack a skill or an understanding of a process. Maybe it’s having no cash flow. Possibly I am not comfortable with social media, so I just ignore it. Not good!

I must step up to the plate. If I don’t want to learn anything new, if I don’t want to acknowledge a pattern that isn’t working, then I can’t really complain to any ‘powers that be’ that they aren’t doing enough. But if I’m willing to try a new path, or learn a new skill, then I can join with others. Together we can learn and grow. Then an entire community can benefit! But first, I must step up to the plate!

One side note: Most communities have a thriving resource of artists, professional services, creatives, successful business people. Can economic development pay some of their local businesses to share their expertise? Do they need to go ‘outside?’ Can the money used for outside ‘consultants’ be put to better use within the community – maybe connecting a business with the needed local professional? Just an idea.

During The Small Business Revolution show, Robert Herjavec of Shark Tank and Amanda Brinkman of Deluxe Corporation ask the difficult questions. The owner(s), often experiencing great inner conflict, are willing to wrestle their demons. The results are progress and a path to success. Just as in any movie, book or documentary we may have been inspired by, the path was never easy. Our path isn’t easy either, but it can be very fulfilling and lead to our success if we’re willing to tackle the hard questions! Remember, your business is one of the 1,000 little things!

To your success…


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