From Kitchen Confidential to Shark Tank to Silicon Valley, there’s no shortage of TV shows that focus on the hustle and struggle of entrepreneurs trying to make a small business work. The online reality show Small Business Revolution – Main Street takes a look at the impact small businesses have on the community around them. Each season, marketing and business experts visit one small town and work with six businesses to help make them more profitable—and hopefully, revitalize a whole town in the process. Read on for 5 lessons small business owners can learn from Small Business Revolution.
1. You have to invest in marketing.
Too often, marketing is the last thing on the list for busy business owners—but a business can’t survive without advertising. The marketing experts on the show typically start by creating a strong visual identity for the business. It may be worth working with a designer to create a modern logo as a starting place for your branding and marketing efforts.
2. A clean, inviting website is crucial to attracting new customers.
Many small businesses on the show haven’t claimed their listings on Google or Yelp, let alone set up their own mobile-friendly website. But you want your business to show up when people are searching for “restaurant” or “dog groomer,” so new customers can find you. The show’s experts often recommend using original photos that highlight your space, your products, or your customers. So you’re not duplicating work, set your website up to automatically draw in content from your social media feeds. If this all sounds overwhelming, don’t panic—there are plenty of tools available today to help you create an attractive and functional website.
3. There may be money hidden in your inventory data.
Good inventory management is crucial to running a successful business. But business owners on Small Business Revolution often confess they’re too busy to dig deep into the numbers—and many don’t really understand what those numbers are telling them. From the family restaurant whose cost of goods was way too high to the beauty supply store where 20% of the inventory just sat on the shelves, never selling, the experts on the show help many business owners improve profitability just by taking a closer look at their inventory data. A modern POS system should make it easy to find and understand data on what’s working—and what isn’t.
4. Don’t be embarrassed if you’re not confident about your money-management skills.
“I try to do a budget every week, but it goes out the window, because I have to buy more products.”
“Pricing is really a scary thing for us, because this is our only income, so we don’t want to price ourselves out of the market.”
“I have no clue how much money I make.”
Any of this sound familiar? The business owners on Small Business Revolution get really honest about how they sometimes struggle to even understand, let alone manage, their business budgets. If you relate to these struggles, the most important thing is to know that you’re not alone. But you do need to get a handle on this side of your business, or, like one struggling business owner on the show, you’ll be saying, “I don’t know if I’ll ever breathe easy.” The good news is, there are lots of resources out there to help you.
5. Know that you deserve to make a good living.
The business owners profiled on Small Business Revolution are passionate about what they do. But as one entrepreneur says, dog grooming “is fun, but it’s not my hobby.” Most small business owners work long hours, and many feel they can’t ever take a vacation. When their business struggles, many entrepreneurs on the show stop taking a salary for themselves. But these behaviors aren’t sustainable. Burnout is a real risk for small business owners. You deserve to pay yourself a good salary, take vacations, and save for retirement. Building a business that’s strong enough to support you in a healthy work-life balance starts is an achievable goal, and it starts with going back to the fundamentals: making a budget, managing your inventory, and marketing your business.
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