It is an incredible time to be a small business owner. Customers, now more than ever before, truly care about who they buy products and services from, and how those companies align with their values. From the shoes we wear to the dish soap we use, there are endless options for consumers to choose from. Pair that with internet access, and more power than ever before sits in the hands of the buyer.
So what does that mean for you as a business owner?
It means you have to make it possible for customers to find you.
But how do you stand out in a crowded landscape filled with landing pages?
Define your “why”
You have to start by knowing your why, and then sharing it in your brand to connect your ideal customers.
If you’re wondering what your “why” is, pause for a moment and check out this incredible TED Talk, and then keep reading.
At our core, there is always a reason why folks start a business.
Sure, some might say “I needed to make money.” but if you can get that person to dig a little deeper, they’re going to share a story of why they do what they do. It’s likely a story of passion and perseverance, and it is the reason why they stuck with their business and are willing to go the extra mile for their clients or customers.
After all, 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first year alone, so there’s got to be some reason that keeps us going.
Maybe it’s that you wanted to change the world for the better. Or maybe you help other people like you.
Use your “why” to define your target market
That was most definitely the “why” that inspired Rachel Bearbower to start her company, Small Shop Strategies in 2018. After years of serving as an executive director for different non-profits, she had recognized how challenging it was to run a small and scaling organization.
This inspired her to create a company to help other folks that would come against the same challenges she faced in the early days of running a “small shop.”
“Small Shop Strategies was designed to fill the gaps of what I always wanted as a founder and executive director. It was important that strategies shared are practical, easy to implement and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of a small shop. Time is incredibly valuable and if someone can apply some simple strategies that transform their productivity because of something I had to figure out the hard way, then that makes me pretty darn happy.”
–Rachel Bearbower, founder of Small Shop Strategies
The incredible thing about Rachel’s “why” is that it immediately helped her identify her ideal audience—her target market—and in turn, she has been able to build a brand that can speak loudly and clearly to the small shops she aims to attract.
Businesses that know their “why” can also use it to drive actions in the world that can also help to attract their ideal customers. Take, for example, Warby Parker, who set out not to just sell glasses, but “to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.” Having socially conscious business practices as part of the ethos company made it a natural for Warby Parker to then embody their “why” in action by giving back one pair of glasses to populations in need for every one sold.
Having a strong “why” will boost your value
That one move has been argued by some to be one of the driving factors for their $1.75 billion valuation in 2018. Don’t forget that Warby Parker was originally a company started by some buddies with the bold vision of disrupting the glasses industry. They are living proof that every company once starts with a great idea, and every big business begins as a small business.
So challenge yourself to also be bold. To tap into your “why” and understand how you can embody it not just through the values your company writes on paper but also in the actions you take in the world. Because customers will take notice. And when they have the choice to pick between a company that is just selling them a product, and the one that is standing up for the things they believe in, they’re going to spend their dollars with the company that shares their values every time.