Friday, July 25, 2014

Burning bright

     Free daily tips, information and advice for people in small business
     from personal experience founding and operating small businesses--been there, done that.

     You've watched a candle burn, top down.

     Like candles, small businesses have a lifespan. Your business can burn brightly for years--or not.

     With business, it's the marketplace, not the candle. The market changes. If you insist on burning a single candle, you are most likely racing toward a business burnout. 

     Example: A farm in my area has been operating as a family business since the 1740s. Same family, same piece of land. It's gone through many changes over the centuries. The original farm changed with the times, becoming a large producer of apples and peaches as the 1800s turned into the 1900s. Since then, it has changed again. Today the farm is a large producer of boxwoods and other ornamental shrubs. Sales are to several well-known arboretums, garden centers, landscapers and homeowners. It's still the same piece of land and it's still in the same family, but it changed with the changing marketplace.

     To keep your business burning bright takes a sharp eye on the marketplace. You might be building for your own lifetime, or you might want the business to continue through successive generations. Either way, every now and then you might light a new candle.

     Example: A consignment shop in my area was established over 75 years ago. It's big and it's almost an institution in itself. The specialty here is vintage and antique clothing. Customers are party goers, actors and production companies, teenagers, and others. There are also racks of more recent clothing. In recent years the owner noticed a developing market for currently fashionable women's clothing. Customers were business women looking to extend their wardrobes. They could get name brands, gently used and at steep discounts off the original prices. They could wear the outfits a couple of times, return the items and select others. The owner decided to open a sister shop in an upscale suburban town. She now reaches out on Facebook to her growing list of regulars with pictures of items new to the shop. The sister shop is very successful, filling a niche market. The original store still enjoys its target market.

     Keep your business burning bright. Stay on top of that ever-changing marketplace. 

     A lifetime of personal experience in small business is in this daily blog. I have started businesses, grown them, sold them and started more. In addition, I have counseled and coached thousands of small businesses at three New Jersey Small Business Development Centers and as head of the Business Owners Institute. Always writing, several books and collections of interviews are on Amazon.  

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