The Story Behind Your Success


Behind every small business, there’s a story worth knowing. All the corner shops in our towns and cities, the restaurants, cleaners, gyms, hair salons, hardware stores – these didn’t come out of nowhere.

~Paul Ryan

I absolutely LOVE to hear the stories that business owners tell around a table in the coffee shop, standing in line at a conference or riding a shuttle between two buildings at a Market. Your conversation might start around a particular product or idea, but usually the question of “how did you get started?” comes up. Every one of these stories begins with a dream of entrepreneurship and most of them have very humble beginnings.

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Maybe your parents were entrepreneurs and owning a business just feels natural to you. Or, perhaps in your previous career you worked for a large company and were just burned out with the corporate structure. Maybe you’re an accidental entrepreneur that suddenly found a hobby turning into a business.

Whatever your story, it is important to tell it to your family, your staff members, your clients and to those in your community.  We can all learn from each other’s “story” as we nurture and grow our businesses. Today, we’re going to take a quick look at five common story lines that successful small businesses share.

Create Your Story: “Once Upon a Time…”

Wherever you are in your entrepreneurial journey, the time to start promoting is NOW! We had two young ladies drive all the way from Colorado to our little store in Kansas to spend a day with us and see just how we were running our business. They had heard about Adrians Boutique from their former employer who had retired and closed the store they had worked in.  They arrived after we had closed the night before our meeting and came by to take a peek in our windows and check things out.  I’m sure they were thinking “Oh my gosh! We have driven seven hours to get to this teeny little town that’s only two blocks long, and are now in front of a store that is only 18 feet wide…What in the world are we doing here?”  Our little town pretty much rolls up the sidewalks after 6 pm!

These girls had made a long drive and thankfully, didn’t give up and head back home. They joined us the next day for our morning staff meeting and then it was off to the races! They were considering opening up a new shop back in Colorado. Both had retail experience and I think they have the drive and desire to make their Entrepreneurial dream a reality. They were writing the first chapter of their Retail Story! We sat down and wrote down a 30 day plan for them to kick off their new adventure.  I gave them some “assignments” to do while driving home such as decide on a name for the store, create a Facebook Page and start posting about their journey to opening up a business. Then I had then create a Constant Contact email account and start emailing to their list (their former employer had been very gracious and given them his email list) on a regular basis, telling their future clients just what was happening in their journey.

By the time this store opens, (we will keep you posted on this), these young ladies will already have a following of clients! They will be interacting with future customers via Facebook, asking for feedback about products for their store, etc. They will have a following on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and they will continue to build their list via Constant Contact.  This store hasn’t even opened yet! Would you want this store opening in the block where YOUR store is located? All of this promoting was done with absolutely no cash outlay.
No excuses! Start promoting! NOW!

Successful Business Owners are Not Afraid to Try New Things
One difference I have noticed after years of conversations with those in the “retail” business, is that successful business owners are constantly “on the hunt” for the newest, latest, greatest gizmo, gadget, product or service.  They invest in going to markets several times a year, talk with other business owners on a regular basis and are never content with offering last years merchandise to their clients.  They know that a percentage of these new items they bring in will not sell, and will eventually end up at their next year’s Sidewalk Sale, BUT, it does not deter them from seeking out new products or services for their clients.

The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed. Lloyd Jones

These savvy business people know that “failures” are part of the path to success and that they measure success on the overall upward climb of their business, instead of letting the individual failure of a few items get them down.  Recently I saw a Domino’s Pizza ad that focuses on this very aspect of it being ok to fail.  The ad features several “monumental failures” that they have rolled out over the years and they are talking about the fact that if they had quit after every failure, they would have been long gone! Instead they have hit on a few STELLAR items that have had huge success in their stores. They encourage their staff members at every level to present new ideas, and know that although there will be many items that fail, a few of those ideas will pay off in a big way!

Successful Entrepreneurs Know How to Promote
If you are going to be a successful entrepreneur, you must learn to tell your story and to promote your business via any and all means possible! The days of renovating an old building, filling it with goods or services , hanging up an OPEN sign and expecting crowds of people to be waiting at your door each morning are over! Actually, I don’t think, other than maybe the Gold Rush of 1848 that this has ever been the case!

Some people are reluctant to “self-promote” as they don’t want their family and friends to think they are full of themselves, or they feel that they need to meet a certain level of achievement BEFORE they can promote their business.  Hello! Those people will not be around in three to five years, if they even make it that long.  It is a noisy world out there and we must stay in touch with our potential or existing clients on {almost} a daily basis! This is do-able in this day of technology. Yes, it requires a lot of time, and yes, you will need to learn how to do some new things, but you MUST take action and start promoting your business in this new technological environment.

Every time I go to the grocery store and get a shopping cart, my Insurance Agent’s headshot looks back at me from the cart. He has billboards, newspaper ads, flyers, postcards and of course business cards all with his photo on them. If you haven’t read “You Stock: Increase Sales by Branding with Personalized Marketing Photography” by Alina Vincent, you should put this on your “to-read” list. The last time I had professional photos taken of myself was when I graduated from Saugus High School, and it took everything I had to make an appointment with a photographer and go get it done. I could go into some great detail here as to WHY I finally came around to accepting the importance of Personalized Branding, but we’ll save that for another post. Let’s just say it pays off!

Successful Entrepreneurs are Life-Long Learners
I love to see a successful entrepreneur who has owned their business for 20, 30 or 40 years sitting in a workshop and listening, fully engaged to what a young start-up entrepreneur has to say. They never get to the point where they feel like they know it all, have “been there, done that” or say “we tried that and it didn’t work.” They are open to new ways of doing business. They invest in learning by attending seminars and workshops, reading business books on marketing, finances, staff relations, management and more. They listen to Podcasts, Audible Books and Webinars to see how people in similar businesses are getting things done. They stalk websites, Facebook pages, and other social media to see what others are doing, then implement changes into their own business.

These people would never say “Oh, I don’t have a computer (iPad, SmartPhone, etc.). They get out there and take a class, learn from their children or grandchildren and never lose that sense of wonder and amazement when new technology hits the market. Some hire a tutor or coach to help them with their website or learn new technology. They realize that without a doubt, they must keep learning and growing to remain engaged with the world around them.  My parents are a great example of this learning mentality. Although they passed 75 a few years ago, they are up to speed with most technology! They still run two successful businesses and use computers, iPads and SmartPhones to place and ship orders and to stay in touch with their children, grandchildren and extended friends and family. Kuddos to my mom and dad and the many other “Over _____ (insert your age here) Entrepreneurs” out there!

Successful Business Owners Take Action!

What can you do TODAY to take your business to the next level?  Here are three action items you can take:

1.  Check your business presence on Social Media. If the last time you posted on Facebook was Easter, it’s time to make an action plan. Learn how to pre-populate your posts using the little clock at the bottom left when you are doing a status update, and create at least one post per day for the next 7 days.      Note: Remember to keep social media just that ~ SOCIAL! Keep it conversational, light and fun!

2.  Sign up for an online Webinar about something that you need to learn for your business. From finances to social media to staff sales training, you’ll find high level training on almost any subject. Some good resources are, Doug Fleener or Whiz Bang Training.

3.  Listen to your colleagues and plan to bring in at least one new product or line of goods.  If you’re a restaurant, offer your patrons something new on the menu. Ask your clients what they would like to see you have available for them.  Get out of your comfort zone an try something new!

As always, we love to hear how your journey on the Road to Remarkable is going, so please leave a comment below or send me an email with your thoughts and ideas.

Thank you for helping us build the “Remarkable Retailer” TRIBE…please share this website with other business professionals in your circle!
Welcome to the conversation!

Vicki Adrian

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