Business is a community.
While more and more entrepreneurs are focusing on the global market than ever before, there are some legitimate benefits to starting a business in your local community. For one, it’s a way for you to contribute to the local economy, as new businesses increase the dollar value of whatever city and state they operate in. Secondly, launching a local business means that you will be creating job opportunities for community members. And of course, there are other ways that you can contribute to the community strictly from goodwill (which we’ll discuss later).
If you’re thinking about opening a local business, it’s essential that you understand what you’re getting into and prepare accordingly. That way, you can best position yourself for success. Here are some ideas for how you can do just that.
Laying the Groundwork
Let’s start with the business side of things. Getting a local business off the ground and succeeding requires you to do some research, create a business plan, choose a legal structure, and develop your team and brand. In other words, it takes some hard work!
Research Community Needs
So, you’re inspired to start a community business. Do you already have an idea that you think can both bring a profit and help the residents in your city? Maybe you hope to launch a natural foods store, food truck, or discount store. Maybe you want to open a salon and provide special rates to the community members who need them. Or, perhaps you don’t have an idea for your business yet. Whatever the case, research is in order.
Take time to look into the needs you notice in your community, and think of ways that you can fill that gap in the market. And before you dive into launching, be sure to make any adjustments to your idea that will improve its prospects of succeeding. This may involve speaking with residents, testing out a product or service, or using other methods for constructive feedback.
Put Together a Business Plan
The next step is to take your refined business idea and turn it into a written plan. Create a document that showcases any information and goals relevant to your business. Here are some examples of sections you may want to include:
- Mission statement
- Core values
- The problem you’re solving
- The solution you’re providing
- Target market
- Competition analysis
- Financial summary
- Funding requirements
- Marketing strategies
If necessary, your company’s business plan will be used to attract investors and/or secure other types of funding. But more importantly, it will serve as a roadmap for navigating various challenges for the first few years.
You’ll have to get a lot of legalities in order when forming your business, and one of your first tasks will be to determine a business structure. Sole proprietorships, LLCs, corporations, and partnerships are some of the most popular structures. Many small business owners choose to
establish an LLC because of the liability protection and tax advantages. If you decide to go that route, consider hiring a formation service to handle your Arizona LLC registration.
Build Your Team
Whatever type of company you’re launching, you don’t want to attempt doing everything yourself. To avoid burnout and increase your chances of running an efficient, productive business, start putting together a team. Look for qualified workers who believe in your mission statement and core values; that way, they’ll be more likely to stick with you for the long haul.
Start Developing Your Brand
“Branding” is a broad area of business that involves your company’s logo, slogans, fonts, colors, and many other factors. Creating unique, attractive branding is the first stage of developing your unique “brand identity” — which is the overall image you portray to consumers. However, it’s just that — the beginning.
Once you have your branding together, including a stellar website, start promoting your company via social media, email, physical brochures, and other marketing mediums. The goal is to form a one-of-a-kind brand identity defined by your top-notch products or services, superb customer service, community engagement, etc. Working with a digital marketing agency like Global Creative Group can help you establish your brand more quickly with less stress.
Contributing to the Community
Once your business is established in the community, start looking for ways that you can contribute to the common good of those in your city and neighborhood.
One of the most practical ways to get involved is to volunteer in your community and encourage your employees and team members to do the same. If possible, provide paid time off for volunteering, and offer your workers a variety of organizations and charities to choose from.
Share Your Expertise
As an established business owner, you will possess knowledge from which many entrepreneurs could benefit. Offer your expertise via free courses. These courses could be in-person, live-streamed, or pre-recorded and uploaded to the web. Whatever format you choose, the gesture will prove that you’re invested in the betterment of the community.
Help Other Businesses
Small businesses are the ones hit hardest during economic downturns. Without a thriving local community, it’s impossible to bring in enough revenue and build a strong enough customer base to survive — much less flourish.
If your business is doing well, you can contribute to the community by aiding and promoting other local companies. Along with showing residents that you care about the local economy and, by extension, the residents themselves, this will help you build strong connections with other professionals that could prove beneficial for everyone involved.
Partner with a Charity
Lastly, consider partnering with a local charity on fundraising events and activities. For example, you could create a contest involving some of your products. If your products are popular in the community, then the contest could draw a lot of participation that benefits the charity. And since your products would be the prize, it would also prove an excellent marketing strategy for your business. Just be sure to promote such events or activities heavily so that you can raise as much money and gain as much exposure as possible.
Every local economy depends on the success of its small businesses. If you’re an entrepreneur, you can benefit the residents of your city, as well as the community as a whole, by opening a local business. Along with following the tips above, keep researching what it takes to start a business that brings long-term success. And remember to keep the people in your community in mind at each step of your journey.
Author Gloria Martinez of womenled.org
WomenLed.org aims to celebrate women’s achievements in the workplace and is dedicated to increasing the number of women-led corporations, organizations, and small businesses by educating others about women-led achievements.