Monday, June 25, 2012

Main Street, with a bullet

The phrase "with a bullet" derives from the music industry.  It comes from Billboard magazine, the recording industry's bible in the age before digital downloads, iPods, piracy and business model implosion.  The term means a rapid ascension on a the case of music, "climbing the charts."

"Small business" is number two with a bullet -- up 42 points --  according to Gallup's new study on Americans' confidence in major institutions.  Small business trails only the military in the level of trust the US citizenry places in it, followed by the police and religion.  (Interesting cocktail chatter the members of those groups would share.)

Big business, HMOs and Congress top the he bottom of the list.  I'm sure you're shocked, shocked.

Are your customers showing you the love? Are revenues and profits trending higher (with or without a bullet?)

There's no doubt that the "buy local" movement has a serious message and has achieved real results.  But while it conjures an idyllic vision of bustling villages and thriving Main Streets, the reality for many business owners is a somewhat less Panglossian.  When it comes to economics, the romance of smaller enterprises doesn't translate into dollars and cents.

But as the above Economist story concludes:  size doesn't matter, growth does.

As we head into the second half of 2012, how have you fared against your growth plan.  You do have a growth plan don't you?

As a small business owner, you cannot compete head to head with big business on price.  But you can leverage the trust in and romance of small business if you've got the right focus and plan.   One of my TAB members sells items that can be found in a variety of other retail locations, yet his business is growing.  He has a clear value proposition, a simple business model and a staff who are trained to delight their customers.  He is not unique; across the country there are many, many small enterprises that are thriving in the face of bigger competitors.

As you look at your recent performance, ask yourself:
  • What's worked, what's not?  Why? 
  • Which should I focus my time on, leveraging what's working or fixing what's not?  (This is not a trick question, but a good way of prioritizing.)
  • How am I doing relative to my competition?
  • What's one change I can make that will help achieve my goals?

In our TAB Board meetings, we often focus on breaking big issues into simpler, more manageable ones.  For small business owners, it takes rifle shots, not Thompson guns, to hit your growth targets.  A tighter focus might just be the right tune to send you up the charts.

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