I enjoy living in San Luis Obispo County. The climate is comfortable year-round and people are happy to be here. In fact, the City of San Luis Obispo was named the happiest city in America by Oprah in 2011. But with that happy atmosphere come a few pitfalls for small business owners trying to start a business or to grow one. The following 3 business tips are easy to do, they’re affordable (i.e. cost nothing more than your time) and are effective for ANY business. They are especially relevant in San Luis Obispo County where if you do it right, your customers will tell one or two about you, but if you do it wrong they will talk about it for weeks.
1) Know your competition.
You already have some idea of what your business is about or is going to be about as it’s something you’re keenly familiar with. So, take a look at your competition and identify a few key factors: what they’re doing right, what they’re doing poorly and how successful they are. Choose to compete with the successful ones and model what they do right. You then create your competitive edge by doing everything else better. Know that this is frequently not about pricing (see my business tip #2 below). Also, look at how your business is unique from theirs and make that your story; are your hours more convenient, do you have better certification or more experience, can you offer better comfort or customer service… It’s OK to be the second most successful car rental brand if you make it your strength by saying “we try harder.” San Luis Obispo is a community that has a lot of small businesses to compete with and operates largely on reputation, so if you can’t beat the successful business on most years in business, compete on something where you know you can win like customer care. One other point that is key is people like doing business with people who like what they do and like their customers.
2) Speak the value.
I love this business tip. It’s quite possibly my favorite and I use it on my son and daughter regularly with their independent businesses. San Luis Obispo businesses thrive on word-of-mouth referrals, so you need to be able to speak your value in less than 30 seconds. Think about the last business networking event you went to (if you haven’t been to one ever – rethink your strategy on this), now think about that person that stood up and went on and on and on about their business. Did they ever say what they actually do? Probably not. Did they speak about the value of their product or service and the benefits you would get? Not likely. If you are clear about what you do and the value of it, you won’t ramble and appear unsure. When you can easily speak your value, others are more likely to remember what it is that you do and share that information with others. Additionally, consumers pay more for value. Don’t you? Put this business tip into action today – stand in front of a mirror and say what you offer and the value of it. Practice this often because you never know when you will meet your next best customer or that person who will turn your business into the next rising star of the business world.
3) Create a financial plan that embraces your personal values and lifestyle.
If you are out in the middle of a weekday in San Luis Obispo, you will likely notice there are a lot of other people who are also out during the typical 8-5 workday. That’s because this town places lifestyle on the highest pedestal. It’s OK that you want to have your own business so you can go surfing (often), but you need a financial plan that supports that. Do the math (my free income calculator can help) and make sure you know how much you need to earn in a day to support yourself by only working 20 hours-per-week in order to have ample time to surf too. If a small business owner’s financial plan needs 80 hours per week to generate the needed revenues and then they go out surfing instead I guarantee that there is financial trouble in their future. A revenue strategy that supports your preferred lifestyle will provide you with both a business and a life you love!
And there you have it: 3 business tips to help you grow your small business here in San Luis Obispo County. Any business owner can create financial freedom for themselves and their families. My tools an techniques are effective, easy to use, affordable and money smart. If you would like help creating a financial plan that embraces your lifestyle, contact me today.