Small businesses succeed with unique items and superior service
During the holiday season, we often see ads that encourage us to support our local businesses. There’s a reason. Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, representing 99.7 percent of all employer firms, according to statistics from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Furthermore, small businesses are a major job generator. Since 1995, they’ve created 64 percent of all new jobs and have paid 44 percent of the total U.S. private payroll, the SBA cites.
Although small businesses don’t generate as much money as large corporations, they strengthen local economies. Their success hinges on knowing the local market, understanding their customers’ needs and wants, and catering to them. “I believe in the personal commitment you receive from small businesses,” says Debbie Mattens, owner of the Guest Room, an upscale furniture store in Leesburg, Va. “It’s what sets us apart from the big box stores. As a small business owner, I take pride in the knowledge of the products and in the customer service I offer.”
Typically, small business owners are innovative and offer products and services that are different from those in larger companies. “You’ll find a different selection [of merchandise] when you shop in a small business,” adds Mattens, whose store offers American-made, handcrafted furniture and accessories. “Small businesses tend to go out and find unique things to offer their customers.”
“In our store, customers can customize furnishings and décor to create a look that is personally theirs. When you go to Pottery Barn, you are seeing the same things a gazillion other people are buying.”
To thrive, small businesses must also be customer-oriented. Every person in the company—from the owner to the cashier—needs to be trained regularly in good customer service. Performing above and beyond the customer’s expectations is a critical part of every small business’ success.
And when clients’ expectations are exceeded, customers return the favor: They remain loyal—so loyal, in fact, that they will continue to frequent the small business, even in the midst of an economic crisis. This commitment helps these companies stay afloat during tough times, which can further strengthen local economies.
Because small business owners understand the challenges of operating a company, they advocate for one another. “I support other small businesses in my community because it’s important that they are successful as well,” says Mattens. Tax revenues from small businesses also help fund important local services, she adds.
For many people, being able to purchase one-of-a-kind items makes shopping exciting. And that excitement translates into repeat business, since customers know they’ll find unique items only your store will provide. Unique products—as well as superior customer service—are the winning combination that keeps America’s small businesses going strong.