The Good, Bad, and Ugly: Small Businesses

by Rebecca Black on June 14, 2012

It’s a dog-eat-dog world in the business realm and you sometimes wonder: How exactly do small businesses survive? What sets them apart from the competition? Looking at examples of successful ventures in the past, and evaluating the process, we can determine a few things that seem to coincide with success.

Innovative Thinking

Perhaps the most important principle to apply is innovative thinking. This is what separates the classes. Finding a niche to market in requires thinking outside the box. Taking a concept that seems standard and improving it, or pulling out a totally new concept are both ways to achieve this.

The T-shirt Company known as “Sevenly” is a perfect example of this. The Entrepreneurs share their story of innovation leading to achievement. Each week, the company features a new design for hoodies and shirts but once the week is up, the design is no longer available. The entire company was founded for the purpose of donating proceeds to charity, and the designs typically highlight a concept related to the topics of hunger relief, human trafficking, and humanitarian concerns.

Because they create a sense of urgency from the limited supply, the demand increases. Apparently, the two guys who started the business only expected to sell about 20 shirts to family members and friends, but in the first day alone, they sold more than 300. Since startup, they’ve collected more than $260,000 for charities. Because of their innovative business model and product, they are likely to meet their goal of raising $1 million for charities by 2013.

Mistakes to Avoid

The Washington Post sheds light on the importance of defining your brand early on and lists a few mistakes to avoid. Apple is one of the examples mentioned; its competitors focused on the business side of things, but Apple chose to be different by placing an emphasis on curb appeal. Had it copied its competition, its success wouldn’t have been nearly as great.

TOMS Shoes is proof that engaging with your customers is a key to success as well. Combining a favorite pastime (shoe shopping) with a sense of purpose (charitable donations) was the primary reason the company has been successful.

Along with strategy and wise planning, small businesses require aspirations to give them momentum forward. A small company started in 1970 on the principles of dollar value, quality, innovation, a sense of competition, and fun. Years later, Virgin Mobile developed into a multi-billion dollar investment group. Despite the fame and glory, Virgin has never lost sight of its ideals and values.

Survival of the Fittest

According to Fox Business, the Small Business Association (SBA) found that 54% of all U.S. sales are generated by 23 million small businesses. Furthermore, they are the source of 66% of all net new jobs since the 1970s.

The article goes on to outline the elements that have sustained these ventures and provided stability despite the economic situation we are in right now. Focus stands on one end of the spectrum; without a management system in place that allows them to divide out responsibilities, owners can find themselves being pulled a hundred different directions. The owner needs to be focused in order to keep the company headed towards the end goal.

Adaptation goes hand-in-hand with focus. If the owner is focused, they will be able to foresee necessary changes that take place and adapt accordingly. However, unless they stay within the parameters of their original business model, they might lose their stability. Adapting to fads and temporary trends should only occur within the scope of the business’s core.

At the heart of the matter lies the aspiration factor. Living up to your dream of a company and maintaining that vision is what pushes you through the tough times and challenges of a bumpy economy.

Categories: Advice, News

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