When a Market Analysis is Wrong Don’t Let Customer Negotiators Erode Your Profit Margin

Large Cities, Small Towns, and Business Success

13 Generalizations on Large Cities, Small Towns, and Business Success

I’m approaching my 25th year of consulting with business owners.  After working with tens of thousands of them, here are thirteen (13) small business principles of which I am certain.  For instance, I know why many small business owners will go extinct, why small towns are better than large cities, how Frank Sinatra was wrong, and where you can find the worst marketers in the world.

1.  It’s easier to generate more sales with a business in a large city than in a small town. But, it’s easier to create a more profitable business in a small town than in a large city.

2.  The most innovative businesses in the world are found in small towns and small cities.  They do more with less.  Unfortunately, they are often not as good at telling their stories, so they often go unnoticed for long periods of time.  Sometimes, forever, when owners don’t learn to market themselves.

3.  The success of a retail business has nothing to do with the amount of drive-by traffic.  Thank, Blockbuster, for again validating this.

4.  Location, location, location doesn’t have to matter anymore. Every true Destination Business continues to validate this.

5.  Owners who have businesses in tourist destinations are the worst marketers.  Since they are spoon-fed customers everyday, many forget how to aggressively market themselves, and they neglect learning about complex marketing concepts that businesses in out-of-the-way places have to learn to survive.  Groups that aggressively market for them and feed them customers actually are enabling their marketing backwardness.

6.  For most average business owners, the level of your business performance will rise to the level of your nearest best competitor, unless that competitor is a national Destination Business, and then, you’ll likely just be puzzled with the customer traffic they’re generating.  Unfortunately, some owners get jealous of the success of a Destination Business which is really silly because other businesses could be capitalizing on their traffic.

7.  Really smart people with multiple college degrees do dumb things when it comes to opening and running a small business.  It’s too bad that when they hand out degrees at college, they don’t come with transferable guarantee that can be applied to running a small business.

8.  Owning a franchise, rather than starting a business from scratch, neither insures success nor happiness.  But it will insure that you have bought yourself a job, though.

9.  An extremely passionate business owner with little money will kick the butt of a well-financed business owner with little passion, with all other conditions being equal.  Better yet, give me any business owner who is willing to change and learn new techniques to be successful, and that person will beat out both a passionate owner and a well-financed owner when both aren’t willing to learn.  (And if you’re an owner who really wants to learn, you should be in our Destination University! Click here to learn more.)

10.  Small business owners who don’t become small business CEO’s will become extinct in the coming years.  ‘Identify your weaknesses’, ‘question your business model’, and ‘delegate if I can’t learn it’ will be the new mantras for Mom and Pop businesses that want to survive.

11.  Don’t ask your nice customers what needs to be improved in your business because they will lie to you.  They want to be nice, and they won’t tell you about the parts of your business that disappoint them.

12.  If a customer says that your parking is bad and that’s why they don’t come in your business, most are using this as an excuse.  This really means that your business is interchangeable with someone else’s business, and that your business isn’t special and unique enough for them to want to expend any effort to work their way to your business.  Using the parking excuse is the easiest way to not go into a business when you’ve found someplace else that is just as good.

13.  When Frank Sinatra sang: “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere” about New York, he was wrong.  With over 2,800 people per square mile there, it’s one of the easiest places.  Show me a multi-million dollar business in northern Maine, central South Dakota, or in eastern Oregon, and then, you can sing about it.

That’s it. That’s what I’m sure of.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me know by posting your comments.

About Jon Schallert
Jon Schallert is the only business consultant in the world teaching businesses and communities how to reinvent themselves into Consumer Destinations. Jon speaks to thousands annually on his 14-step “Destination Business” process, which he developed over the course of nearly 30 years interviewing over 10,000 business owners in over 500 communities. When Jon is not speaking around the country, he conducts his 2½ day Destination Business BootCamps in Longmont, Colorado, and oversees his company’s online training network, Destination University.
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  • Frank Bozikovich

    Generally speaking I agree with all your statements. I commend you for highlighting those observations as it should be a good start for anybody setting out to improve. Passion however is always the edge for just about any venture. success obsession is what makes it happen.
    I always read your stuff!

  • Jon Schallert

    Frank: Thanks! Yes, those obsessive business owners I meet generally have an edge over those less passionate. They might have less friends, fewer free weekends, and other trade-offs, but they do have good businesses.

  • Lone Star Bruce

    I appreciate your parking comment.
    Our city planner made an overlay of a Wal-Mart parking lot over our central business district.
    It was startling to note that you could park on one end of downtown and walk to nearly the farthest point, and still have a shorter walk than from the far end of the Wal-Mart parking lot to their door.
    Granted – people like to see the shop door from their parking spot – but there really is plenty of parking in downtown America.
    Just need to motivate the customer to make that shorter walk. (How about unlocking the shop door for starters!) 🙂
    Thanks for all the great advice.

  • Jon Schallert

    Thank you, Lone Star Bruce! And Nac thanks you! By the way, when are you bringing that group of owners I met down there to our Destination BootCamp? If you all come together, you get $16,000 of free services!

  • Nan Walvoord

    Thanks Jon for the great reminders. I truly appreciate all your business help. “The Pink House” is becoming more of a household word in our area. We are becoming a gifting destination. Technology has helped soooo much. We are having fun with our website, Facebook, and Constant Contact–all things I learned about at the Destination Boot Camp.

  • Catherine Matthias: Stewart Jones Designs

    #5 hits home for me. I just attended last night’s business association meeting. A handful of businesses at the “north end” of town (that’s all of 5 blocks from the southend) stated they needed events to spread out throughout the town so they too can get the foot traffic that is generated. The association is not in control of these events and there are too many obstacles to explain in this short note why that would be difficult, but what I can say is they are missing the boat on creating a business people will go out of the way to visit. Let’s see how many take the step of coming to a bootcamp in 2011.

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