NOTE: This month we feature Guest Author Owen Andrew. Owen Andrew is a journalist in California. He is passionate about small business and enjoys using his years of experience to inform and encourage other like-minded individuals.
Every single business starts small – as a one-man operation or with a small group of partners who have an idea and a dream for how they can make a difference in the world. Moreover, many of today’s famous entrepreneurs began their journey to global prominence and success by starting off as local heroes.
We’ve all heard the stories about Google and Apple getting started out of garages, and there are plenty of tales of home-based businesses beginning around the kitchen table and ending up as global empires. But what happened in between those initial founding days and their current success (besides lots of hard work and determination, naturally)?
Sparking Local Interest
There are many ways to achieve positive recognition in your business’s hometown, from commonly used tactics like advertising or making significant donations to a local cause, such as business owner sponsoring a clothing drive or a benefit dinner. Contributing to a political campaign also works – just make sure said politician doesn’t have any skeletons in their closet, or this one could backfire horribly.
Aside from these well-known avenues, there are plenty more unusual and creative methods to getting noticed in your hometown.
Meet The Press
We don’t mean traditional PR or (shudder) paying for placement campaigns. Nope – we mean interacting with the press where they already “live” online, such as tweeting with them, starting an active Instagram account for sneak peeks at your work, and otherwise being there as a source when they need fresh content – journalists get writers block too! Join “Help A Reporter” or any local equivalent and position yourself as an expert source within your industry.
Make Your City Your Beta Testers
And they may become your biggest fans. Your neighbors, friends, and family can become a free focus group for testing your products in exchange for early access, and they’ll likely take ownership and pride in helping a local guy or gal succeed.
Provide Event Space
Own a brick and mortar business? Would it be possible to use it as some kind of event space for parties, weddings, art events, or live music? That can be an easy way to get the word out about your brand and help members of your community create wonderful positive memories associated with their special occasions and performances. And at the end of the day, they’ll remember that your company helped make it all happen.
Local Names, Local Ties
Giving your products, or even your company, a local connection promotes hometown pride. For instance, restaurant owners could name dishes after iconic streets or local celebrities, and apparel designers could use local fashionistas or bloggers in their shows instead of models.
This works even better if you personally have strong family connections to the region – maybe even some notorious or infamous ancestors that others will find intriguing.
Share Your Knowledge With Your Neighbors
Chances are you have learned something valuable or interesting that may apply across verticals or niches – or maybe you just want to create a forum where like-minded entrepreneurs can commiserate and share war stories. Running a home-based business can be a rough and lonely road after all, so creating a support group of sorts can definitely make you a local hero.
It might be a cliche to say the world runs on small business and locally owned shops, but in many ways, it is true (cliches become what they are for a reason). So start small and dream big, local heroes. The world is your oyster.