(At StartupNation's request, the following words of advice were provided by Shelby Burford, a winner in the 2008 StartupNation Dorm-Based 20.)
Today is an extraordinary time to be involved in a small business.
Yes, today, as financial channels moan with woes of diminishing spending, failing markets, and nonexistent consumer confidence. The state of our country’s economy is, without doubt, frightening, and the thought of succeeding in business, much less small business, is daunting. But just as investors capitalize when stocks are low, so business owners can benefit from narrowing market exuberance.
One of the greatest assets small businesses have is the ability to instill consumer confidence. There was a time when corporations were respected because of a sense of safety among customers that chances of a large organization failing were insignificant.
Flash forward to today. We turn on the news and hear of dramatic stock market rumblings, airlines disbanding, reputable corporate stock becoming worthless, and cornerstone banks dissolving overnight. We then hear of diminishing consumer confidence and wonder why. When patronizing a small business, the consumer gains the confidence of knowing a company. There are no highly-paid public relations specialists concealing secrets, no shareholders to please, and little concern for mass shakeup.
When I launched my graphic design company in 2002, I was wary of disclosing the fact that it was a one-man operation, not to mention one owned by a 14-year-old. Looking back, I missed out on capitalizing on my business’s greatest strengths: personal attention. As my clients began to discover that I was, in fact, a 14-year old in business by himself, they began to spread the word. Before long, word-of-mouth had planted clients across the nation, word-of-mouth that never would have taken place if it hadn’t been for the disclosure of my small-scale operations.
The nature of my company made it a talking point for clients; they were excited to share with associates their new found secret. Given current market conditions and consumer confidence levels, we now have an extraordinary opportunity on hand to capitalize on the advantages of working with a small business. If one is able to push the points of personal service and dependability, success in this market could prove grand.
Time for Small Business
There are two options: watch the markets as consumer confidence and spending continue to decrease, or swim against the tide and be one of the survivors who strengthen as a result. The ball is now in the court of “the little guys,” and customers are on the lookout for dependable, stable organizations to do business with. It’s time for business. Small business.