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Top 7 Big Tips to Start A Small Town Business

By Cathy Goodwin

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Changing careers and moving to a small town? . In a big city, youíll make decisions by numbers and neighborhoods. In a small town, you schmooze! On the surface, everyone will be friendly, optimistic and positive. Your challenge: Get below the surface and learn the true story. You might consider asking a lot of questions before you disclose your own intentions. Listen for, "I wish we hadÖ"

  1. Talk to others who have opened businesses recently.

    What challenges have they faced? What works and what doesnít? Were others newcomers successful? If so, were they truly new or did they have deep roots in the town, such as a brother who lived here forty years?

    If nobodyís opened a business for awhile, dig deeper. Maybe thereís no market. Or maybe theyíre just waiting for you to arrive! Sometimes a new business can generate latent demand. Itís a judgment call.

  2. Make a great first impression.

    Promotion isnít hard in a small town. Ten minutes after youíve opened, everyone will know! Some towns resist doing business with uppity newcomers. Others welcome new blood. Regardless, your first impression will linger a long, long time. And youíll have trouble recovering from a local opinion leader with a bad experience.

  3. Uncover the townís market and memory.

    Considering buying a business? Take time to discover the ownerís reputation. When the local residents seem eager for a change of management, youíll need a new name and image. But if someoneís just moved away and everyone misses them, youíve got a wonderful opportunity. Right now in Silver City, NM (where I live), we could use a few first-rate pet-sitters and dog groomers.

    But be sensitive to change. Before I moved here, Iím told, at least three coffee shops failed. Now we have several, along with a wine bar and a microbrewery. All seem to be thriving.

  4. Search the fine print of local regulations.

    Here in Silver City, our newest businesses had to fight all kinds of red tape to get opened. One called City Hall to get help with a business that was new to the area. "Itís not listed here," said the clerk, "so itís probably illegal." (The business has opened and thrives.) Another discovered his license hadnít come through because the Council forgot to add it to the agendaÖand they werenít interested in making last-minute changes.

    Any time you serve food or drink, you know youíre facing permits. Find out whatís involved locally.

  5. Prepare to do most of the work yourself. In a small town, you can have trouble finding good help. The local work ethic may surprise you Ė in either direction.

  6. Know your community. Will your market come from second and third generation local residents? Or are you serving those who relocated recently from urban areas? Here Iíve met folks who think three dollars is way too much to pay for espresso drinks. But those who bonded with Starbucks will buy at least one cup a day, every day.

  7. Build relationships. If you can attract a town leader, youíll draw a following. Conversely, if you inadvertently alienate a key player, or if a local personís got an idea on the drawing board, youíll be miserable.

    And in a small town, youíll be expected to be a super-citizen. Choose alliances and sponsorships carefully. Prepare for all sorts of friendly requests to donate time, materials and money.

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., is an author, speaker and career/business consultant, helping midlife professionals take their First Steps to a Second Career. http://www.cathygoodwin.com "Ten secrets of mastering a major life change"subscribe@cathygoodwin.comContact: mailto:cathy@cathygoodwin.com 505-534-4294

Source: http://Top7Business.com/?expert=Cathy_Goodwin

Article Submitted On: October 22, 2004