Sunday, January 6, 2013

On the Road Again

The first of the year is always a great time to take stock of the year just passed, and look forward to the one in front of us. That is why everyone contemplates their resolutions so much isn't it? I am not one for making resolutions, but as a business owner ~ I do have lots of tasks to resolve. The mountain of paperwork that accompanies "year end", the physical action of taking inventory......and the mental one as well. This coming year isn't going to start exactly as I had planned it to, business decisions sometimes get in the way of best laid plans. But I am going to make the absolute best of some new challenges that have been thrown my way and take the time to re-energize the passion that I have for both of our stores.

So as this new year begins, I am taking "inventory" of my thoughts and plans for the coming months. Need a little Jump Start at your own small business? Here are a few things that always seem to work for me.

1. The best way I know how to go about jump starting.......get out there and.........TRAVEL

2. Open your eyes, and more important....your mind. See what's out there, see what others are doing, what new ideas can I gather from being in a different state, different coast. Even from the small little stores at the airport I have found inspiration and new products, and don't even get me started on the dusty little second hand stores on the back roads of the south.
3. Get out there and talk to other business owners. Trust me, your way is not always the BEST way. Don't just walk around their store and try and copy some of their ideas (come on, if you are a small business owner you BETTER be trying to copy your favorites). If I am in a store that really moves me I like to try and find the owner or manager, and 9 times out of 10 they are there......remember....we are talking SMALL business here, and they are probably minding their own store. I always let them know that I live 3000 / or 300 miles away and that I really am inspired by some of their displays. Or maybe just their product mix impresses me and I don't want to be so obvious when I turn over the item to see who the manufacturer is.  I am always so pleasantly surprised how these interactions go, and I can tell you from experience almost half of my newsletter/emails that I get on a regular basis come from these businesses and many have gone on to be great business "pen pals". As small business owners we all work really really hard, and sometimes it is really nice to be able to take the opportunity to "pay it forward" by complementing someones business sense that you admire. 
4. Step outside the box. Visit a store that you THINK may have nothing in common with your own, and see how they do it. One of the original choices for some of the display materials at Red Zinnia (juxtaposition of antiques and stainless) came from a  gourmet grocery store in downtown Chicago. I walked in and KNEW that someday I would use that exact same layout for a store. And this was a year before Red Zinnia was even contemplated. I just liked the look that much and had noted it in my "Ideas" book.

5. Get to the trade shows for your industry, and take as many of your staff with you that you can afford. Sure the shows are a lot of work, and yes they do cost money to attend, but how else are you going to find the new and exciting.....oh yeah.....re-read #3!

So with those few things being said, I am on my way outa town! See you in a month or so, and until then you can keep track of me here, or over on FB and Pinterest. Oh, that leads me to 6 and 7, you do have a FB and a Pinterest account don't you??

Get going, and if our paths cross along the way....make sure and say hello, I would love to meet you and swap ideas! See you soon, Susan

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