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Seth Godin's Lessons From Very Tiny Businesses

Thank you to my friend and strategic communications expert Deborah Hinton of Hinton : for sending me the following tips from Seth Godin:

1. Go where your customers are.

www.greentruckonthego.com

www.greentruckonthego.com

Jacquelyne runs a tiny juice company called Chakwave. I met her in Los Angeles, standing next to an organic lunch truck. Like the little birds that clean the teeth of the hippo, there’s synergy here. The kind of person that visits the truck for lunch is the sort of person that would happily pay for something as wonderfully weird as her juice. And the truck owners benefit from the rolling festival farmer’s market feel that comes from having a synergistic partner set up on a bridge table right next door.

 

 I have had an intuition to locate myself in/ near Chateau St. Ambroise to be easily accessible to the many interesting small and medium sized businesses there. I even found a partner who will rent me commercial loft space in a very flexible manner.  There is nothing stopping me…except me.  Time to jump in!

2. Be micro-focused and the search engines will find you.

My friend Patti Jo is an extraordinary teacher and tutor. Her new business, The Scarsdale Tutor doesn’t need many clients in order to be successful. This permits her to focus obsessively and that gets rewarded with front page results on Google. Not because she’s tried to manipulate the seo (she hasn’t) but because this is exactly the page you’d hope to find if you typed “scarsdale tutor” into a search engine. Could she do this nationwide? Of course not. But she doesn’t want to or need to. Living on the long tail can be profitable.

I had lunch with my friend Tricia van der Walde, a Montreal massage therapist, this week. She said the same thing. She’s coming up first in Google for “Montreal lymphatic drainage”. It’s a speciality.  People are finding her.

3. Outlast the competition.

I was amazed at all the empty storefronts I saw in LA on my last visit. On one particular block, three or four of the ten lunch places were shut down. And the others? Doing great. That’s because the remaining office workers who used to eat lunch at the shuttered places had to eat somewhere, and so the survivors watched their business grow. A war of attrition is never pretty, but if you’re smart about overhead and scale, you’ll win it.

A number of my coach colleagues —Tanya Geisler, Minnie Richardson, Ian Renaud, and Marie-Claude LaPalme — are building their businesses during this recession. Each of them has been cautious about taking on big overhead. Each of them is growing organically by word of mouth and through other promotions. the point is that all of them are growing. So am I!

4. Leverage.

Rick Toone runs a tiny guitar-making operation. His lack of scale makes it easy for him to share. When others start using his designs, he doesn’t suffer (he can’t make any more guitars than he already is) he benefits, because as the originator of the design, his originals become more coveted, not less valuable. He leverages his insight and shares it as a free marketing device.

Michael Port, in his best sellling book Book Yourself Solid advises small business owners to “give away so much value that you think you’ve given too much and then give more”. He descibes a college friend of his used to order his hero sandwiches saying “put so much mayonnaise on it that you think you’ve ruined it, and then put some more!”.   Think mayonnaise and as Michael says, “invite prospective clients to experience what it is like to be around you and the people you serve”.

5. Respond.

This is the single biggest advantage you have over the big guys. Not only are you in charge, you also answer the phone and read your email and man the desk and set the prices. So don’t pretend you have a policy. Just be human.

It’s a lot to manage. And it is so rewarding!

See Seth’s original post here.

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