A local entrepreneur shares secrets to success

The retail frontier can be described as the Wild West. Selling goods to the public may seem simple, but just when business owners think they know the lay of the land, it changes. Increased competition, fair-weather employees, inflation, scarce inventory (and customers), emerging trends - and let's not forget ever-evolving social media - are just a few challenges retailers face.

The silver lining

Small businesses can be more nimble in their response to a changing marketplace. Being hyper-local and independently owned gives the ability to be flexible. Big boxes are facing similar setbacks, but it can take a while to turn the wagon around.

In fact, many entrepreneurs who chose the retail life wouldn't have it any other way.

One such retailer, Meghan Hogan-Tauber, founder of HoganMade, has made a name in Hillsborough's retail market and shares sage advice. She answers the question:

How do small retail businesses survive in a big box world?

Four tips for success:

Customer experience - As a small business, the opportunity to provide excellent customer service and a five-star experience is almost limitless. Knowing customers by name, understanding their buying preferences, and anticipating their needs are keys to small business success. Studies show that customers with great past experiences will spend more (a lot more) than those who have had poor experiences. Training team members to be friendly and go the extra mile will lead to more revenue for your store. Hogan-Tauber agrees, "You might not be the cheapest in town, but you are going to be able to offer what big box stores can't, and that is customer service, truly unique items, and the freedom to do it all exactly the way you want to."

Be you - Hogan-Tauber's best advice is to just be yourself. As a small business, you have the power to be unique and stand out in the marketplace. What are the big boxes not selling? What is your competition missing? What is the neighborhood vibe? What do residents want? Big retailers can't do this, but you can!

Boost your online presence - Omnichannel selling or selling seamlessly in multiple places and across all platforms to meet the customer where they are is trending. Since COVID-19, online sales have skyrocketed and include online marketplaces and social selling. Hogan-Tauber has recently brushed up on her social media skills and is trying new sales channels. So far, things are paying off.

Not ready for online selling? At the very least, ensure your social channels are active and dynamic, letting your store's personality shine through.

Partner locally - It may seem counterintuitive, but befriending other small businesses, even those similar, can be beneficial. Whether sharing advertising and social promotions or partnering for events - collaboration is usually a win. Another form of local partnership is supporting a local nonprofit. Whether hosting a supply drive or raising funds, your act of goodwill will mean your business being shared on the nonprofit's social channels.

Local Stories Live

At 9 a.m., Friday, Dec. 8, at the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, Hogan-Tauber will join Brent Krauss, founder of Ella Bing, and Vaneka Williams, owner of City Girl Florals, to share retail wisdom during December's Local Stories Live series. They will continue the conversation, Surviving Retail in a Big Box World, and coffee and breakfast will be provided.

Sign up here. Or watch on Facebook Live.

Hillsborough's Economic Development department supports small businesses. The Entrepreneur Collaborative Center (ECC) in Ybor City provides entrepreneurs easy access to business service providers, resources, mentorship, and specialty training. With programs like the monthly Taste of Success (first Thursday of the month) and Local Stories Live (first Friday of the month), business owners can learn best practices from other local entrepreneurs. To learn about monthly ECC events, sign up for the monthly newsletter.

Image Caption: Hogan Made logo
Posted: 12/1/2023, 3:20:58 PM