At last Saturday's Indie Business Revolution: Raleigh, co-sponsored by the Carolina Mixed Media Artists Guild, I met with with dozens of artisans, crafters and independent business owners in various stages of their small business journeys. Events like these confirm a thousand times over that I am indeed doing what I am called to do: help people maximize their potential through small business ownership. Here's a group shot of most of some of the attendees.
Lisa Stewart of EC Stewart joined us to share how she uses social media to spread the word about the artwork she and her business partner husband produce in their Raleigh, North Carolina, studio. You can enjoy the entire event photo album at the Indie Business Facebook Fan Page. In my opening remarks, I shared some of the reasons I enjoy being a small business owner. Maybe some of them resonate with you.
Small Business Ownership Encourages Unique Voice. Everyone has a voice, but not everyone really identifies and expresses their unique voice. As small business owners, we are never without opportunities to declare who we are and how we serve the greater good as we further our own social and business goals. Everything from the products we offer to the colors we choose for our logos gives voice to who we are and the contribution we make to our customers, our communities and the world.
Small Business Ownership Provides a Platform to Serve Others. At our meeting, a woman named Deborah shared that she attended specifically so she could encourage other artist business owners. The challenges Deborah has overcome have uniquely equipped her to help other small business owners, especially artists, who are coming along behind her. As my friend and Premium Indie Beauty member Lela Barker says, “Don't pull the ladder up behind you.” Our experiences as small business owners, even the disappointing and heartbreaking ones, allow us to blaze a trail into the future so that others can stand tall on our shoulders.
Small Business Owners Appeal To Consumers. How many times have you purchased a product because you liked the story behind it just as much as you like the product itself? Maybe even more?
I do it all the time, and so do hundreds of people I meet with as I travel the nation. Whether it's a trade show booth, a blog comment or a private email message, small business owners naturally use our own unique personal story to influence customers and other stakeholders to make positive decisions with respect to our businesses.
Curiosity about everything from the routine of our daily lives to how we launched with a Visa card and a prayer create a never-ending source of buzzworthy and fun conversations. People like to do business with other people, especially when they can solve a problem and be inspired at the same time.
Small Business Ownership Has Flexible Lifestyle Benefits. When we work hard, make wise choices and take calculated risks, we also enjoy the freedom and flexibility that only comes from owning the enterprise we are managing.
For me personally, this translates into being available to my husband and our children while they are very young. For others, it means being able to choose work hours, travel freely, live anywhere in the world you want to live, or simply not have to answer to anyone else (except customers of course!).
Small Business Ownership Challenges Your Mind. The responsibility of small business ownership forces us to be in a constant state of absorption. We learn something new every quarter hour — literally — especially if we are maximizing our use of technology and social media outlets to connect with other people.
There are books, magazine, radio shows, television show, e-books, how-to blog posts, meet-ups, direct mail pieces, email newsletters, videos on how to use the latest technologies and so much more. When we devour the information, sift out what matters most to us and then implement what we learn, we add to our success incrementally. In this way, our minds stay sharp and hungry for the next thing that can help us achieve our goals.
We don't have a penny to waste because, well, sometimes, we only have pennies. Waking up and starting every day at zero forces us to be as focused as we possibly can. Just because we wake up at zero, doesn't mean we have to go to bed that way!
Small Business Owners Appeal To The Media. If you sell a product or write a book, that's great. The product may work wonders and the book may be informative. But “reasonable” and “informative” are not enough anymore. Today, the media looks for stories and we small business owners deliver that in spades.
The relevant question today is not, “What's for sale?” The relevant question today is, “Who's selling it? And no matter what you sell, if the “who's selling?” it part is interesting, I've got a media opportunity for you. (Note: For media leads, subscribe to HARO if you haven't already.)
Example: I once watched the host of a popular home shopping show start a segment on beauty product by asking the guest to tell the story behind how she started her business. The products were beautifully displayed as she shared how she started her business with a few hundred dollars in a basement. They hadn't said two words about the fantastic sugar scrubs, yet the product were selling, and fast. Clearly, the host had hit a nerve with viewers. Sugar scrub can be wonderful. But sugar scrub made by a woman with a story? Where did I put my credit card??!
What were the viewers buying? The products.
What were the viewers excited about? The story. The show host used the business owner's story to inspire and motivate the viewers.
As small business owners, we don't have to make up the stories. We live them every day! Our lives are one big inspirational story. Isn't it great to be able to earn people's attention without having to always be yapping about how great our products are? We can let our stories do the talking instead!
To me, this is one of the most fun parts of being a small business owner.
Question: What do you like about the small business choice? What did I leave out?