If I Was Running A Company…Mom and Pop 2.0

I was in an online discussion with Mark Stelzner and other HR people a couple months ago about discussing his new venture, Job Angels.  In that discussion, Mark mentions the small business revolution.  I never thought of that heavily in that discussion except that I’m a small business and from time to time, I deal with small businesses, but I keep reading about small businesses everywhere I go.  Could this be a revitalization of the small business?

Small business is the biggest sector of business in this country, but with the recession, it has hit hard since banks do not have cash, the credit crunch, and small business cannot pay their payments.  I brought this up because I read two articles of how small businesses are using social media to build up their business.

One of the articles I read was Naked Pizza in New Orleans.  It started erecting a billboard when they created their Twitter account.  Their Twitter account is about specials and customer service.  Another one is BakerTweet. BakerTweet is a device where bakers tell their followers that their products (bread, pastries, etc.) are out of the oven fresh and get it while it’s hot.  Would these strategies work?

It might, but that depends on the company’s quality and execution.  I believe most small businesses have the execution by understanding and utilize social media, but that can only help in the short-term.  The quality is the long-term answer for small businesses to survive.  You can do all the marketing and customer service you want, but if the product you trying to sell does not live up to the hype, your customers will be gone in a New York minute. 

You can have friends and family to help, but it’s the others that you don’t know and repeat customers that carry your small business.  For example, I can tell you can come to my home and enjoy my mother’s pho and egg rolls for $7.  I’m likely going to be bias because well…she is my mother.  However, if my friends tell their friends about my mother’s pho and egg rolls, there is a likely chance their friends would come based on word-of-mouth. 

I have been talking a lot about social media for small business, but does it benefit in the long run?  As any small business, your business needs to grow locally first.  Go to local networking events or happy hours to attract new, local customers since they have the shortest distance to get to your product.  If most of them like the product, they will likely tell it to their network.  Social media will only work if you want your business to go regional or national.

All of this leads to possibly the return of the mom and pop setup.  Mom and pop stores run rampant in the 60s and 70s with the focus on communities.  Today with inflation and costs, some businesses have folded, some have sold to other companies, and some are surviving but barely while chain and superstores run up the city.  What is revitalizing the mom and pop setup is communities are joining together not only locally, but through social media by spreading word-of-mouth as fas as teh swine flu.  It also helps that if small businesses are hiring, you can take a step back and become a pivotal part of possibly a growing organization that could lead to big things.  However, I would take caution that pay will be small and the benefits will be little, but select which small business company you really like to help and go from there.

What social media has done is what mom and pop stores existed:  to have a conversation and relationship with neighbors and people around town.  In this concept, you’re talking to everyone.  We do live in a small world after all.

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