Small Business Development Q&A
When Steven Di Orio, our marketing manager at Handy Store Fixtures, liked one of Wall Street Journal/WCBS Business Reporter Joe Connolly’s tweets, Mr. Connolly reached out to Mr. Di Orio to thank him.
Mr. Connolly provides business reports for WCBS Newsradio 880. He is a former WCBS news anchor, former sports reporter, and a former Press Secretary.
He has also won many awards for his small business reporting, so we took the opportunity to pick his brain on small business development.
Read our questions and his answers below to see what you can take away from his expert advice.
Is there a "secret to success" for small businesses?
Yes. Be different from everybody else in 1 or 2 or 3 significant ways. Offer something better, different, more personalized. Just don't compete on price. That's what Walmart does. Small businesses cannot compete on price alone. Most small businesses give better service - which generally means they give customers more information and advice and pay greater attention to detail for them - in return for a higher but still reasonable price.
Can small businesses do everyday tasks themselves, or should they be quick to hire experts in HR, Accounting, etc.?
Please get rid of everything you don't want to do that distract you as fast as you can afford to hire someone competent to do it.
Why would somebody quit a "safe job" and take on all the challenges of becoming an entrepreneur?
I don't think many people would quit - if the job is safe; and if they were really an entrepreneur, they probably wouldn't be in a safe job. I think that entrepreneurs are usually born, not made. They're born with an instinct and an ability to see opportunities. Then they spend a lifetime developing their skills and learning how to sell and manage and develop new ideas better.
What are some of the best methods small businesses can use to market themselves against the larger competition?
See above. Be different. Don't assume people know that or make them figure it out for themselves. Spell out clearly in a phrase or 2 how you're different. Tout it. "Differentiate" is the main message I hear from business owners. Say what you do and how you're different, and practice explaining it in 3 sentences.
Also, customer testimonials, social media, a local phone number, and local involvement. Support soccer and the schools. Ask for referrals. Pay for referrals. And partner with larger businesses when the right deals come along. You bring them fresh ideas. They give you resources you don't have.