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Small Business Saturday?? No thank you…Let’s look at this differently; Small Small Everyday

Take a moment to imagine Lakeland without any of our small, local businesses. Take away the Small Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, and those breaking out of the standard mold of a typical job. Think about our Downtown without our beloved coffee shops, salons, spas, boutique clothing stores, antique & consignment shops, restaurants, bars, the Farmer’s Market, our precious retail gift shops. Imagine them not being a part of the fabric of Lakeland. If there were not a strong presence of Lakeland Business Leaders supporting each other their as they are on their entrepreneurial journey. We would not be the city we are today.

Munn Park would be a different experience altogether. What would be left? What would our streets look like? Desolate, depressing, certainly not an integral part of the Lakeland economy, First Friday would not be a strategic part of many small business and non-profits marketing and advertising plan. 

Just how much of a presence and impact do small businesses have on our communities, our nation? The survival rate for new Small businesses is astounding,

According to the SBA:  79.9% of establishments started in 2014 survived until 2015, the highest share since 2005. From 2004 to 2014, an average of 78.5% of new establishments survived one year.

  • About half of all establishments survive five years or longer. In the past decade, this ranged from a low of 45.4% for establishments started in 2006, and a high of 51.4% for those started in 2011.
  • About one-third of establishments survive 10 years or longer.

So, as we all know once a year there is a strategic and specific focus on supporting Small Businesses, well known to most as Small Business Saturday, a nationally recognized holiday held the Saturday after Thanksgiving. American Express will send you free swag to promote your location and the day of shopping. It is a tremendous resource for the businesses participating! For many Small Businesses, it has now become a tradition, encouraging holiday shoppers to support local brick-and-mortar businesses rather than larger brands or online-only stores. The thought process, since the nation is poised ready to shop, let the Small Businesses get in on the action. While I like this idea, I think we need a majorshift to an ongoing initiative and allow Small Business Saturday be the culminating event! If our small communities are going to survive, we need to link arms and intentionally shop locally as much as we can.

Originally conceived and promoted by American Express back in 2010, Small Business Saturday last year alone attracted more than 88 million people to “shop small.”  But what exactly are the benefits of shopping small, and why should we as a Lakeland community and nation do it NOT just on Small Business Saturday but every day?

Small businesses support and give back to our community, that whole For Us By Us thought process applies here. 

When you support a local business, you’re also supporting us, our town, our city, our neighborhoods. Business pay sales taxes to the city and county the business is located in. When we shop in the larger business, that money isn’t benefiting our community at all. Plus, our local tax money is used to support public schools, parks, roads, and sidewalks, as well as fund public service workers.

Small businesses provide a different level of customer service, their local owners strive to survive and one of the biggest advantages they have over larger retailers is the ability to provide more personable, hands-on, and memorable customer service. I love walking in Downtown and being able to find Lakeland themed items, that adds such charm to the shopping experience! 

 

Small businesses create, sustain and add to our sense of community, we #lovelakeland!  When we get to know a small business owner in Lakeland, we create community and a bond that encourages us to shop “small” so that we can support our friend. It is a wonderful experience and provides the highest and utmost customer service when you walk into a shop where you are known personally or even a restaurant where the staff knows your preferences for your specific order. You’re going to feel amazing being treated very well by your local community that it will, in turn, bring you back to do more business.

This is a shift in our mindset, Shop Small/local first, and then if you can’t find what you need in those Small Businesses, go to the larger businesses.

Shop small often and with intentionality! Not just on Small Business Saturday, but every day that you can.

Share, Share, Share- Get social, be vocal!!! Go live and share your experience, take pictures and tag yourself at the location sharing your love for where you are! Post pictures, tweets, and status updates of yourself shopping at one, and be sure to use the hashtag #ShopSmall. Also, write positive reviews for the small businesses you love and support. Liking their page, a positive Yelp review, and a personal investment on your social media means a lot to Small Businesses. People do business with people they trust, and so that is why the referral system is so powerful. Give your support before it is solicited, add value back the retailer or restaurant you frequent so that they continue to thrive and are able to provide the services you love. 

All of this would lead to a fantastic culminating event we know as Shop Small Saturday! It not only could be culminating but the start of a new year with new clients. As the current clients/shoppers bring in family and friends, as we have holiday shoppers visiting from out of town, or those that are not yet ensconced in the Shop Small Culture. As we move forward there needs to be an intrinsic push into education, training, and valuable insight shared by experts, so that as our Small Business Communities needs grow and change, we as a community are not only supporting them monetarily, but with business insight, and resources to not only sustain these small businesses but have tremendous growth!

 

 

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Guest Post: Permission Marketing in Networking

Contributed by Jay Clouse 
Unreal Collective | Columbus, OH

I receive Jay’s daily email. We were in altMBA12 together. There’s been a connection since we first met this summer. Today’s post was perfect and articulates perfectly how I have approached networking. I hope you enjoy this guest post from a fellow Seth Godin fan.

Originally Shared via Jay’s Blog

As you are probably already aware, I’m a big Seth Godin fan.

Seth Godin thinks differently about marketing than most marketing gurus – and I love it. Recently I watched a video where he described permission marketing.

Every time you engage with someone, you are either making yourself more irreplaceable (and justifying why paying attention to you is worth it) or you are taking a valuable resource: someone’s attention.

Attention is precious. It’s not refundable and it’s always limited.

Godin is describing modern marketing and communication – email lists, social media, advertising, etc. His point here is that a specific message needs to be adding value, or you are wasting your time.

His expanded viewpoint on this topic is that most modern marketers are focused on short term wins for their company/organization/cause and not putting emphasis on the receiver of the message.

And his thesis is that this selfish form of marketing will come back to bite us, making attention an even more difficult and valuable asset to command.

So to him, the time is now to focus on “permission marketing” – marketing that is done by gaining permission from the receiver of the message. Every time you then engage with your audience, you are making yourself more irreplaceable and proving your value.

Would people miss you (or your message) if it was gone?

That’s how I approach this newsletter, and that’s how I’ve implicitly approached “networking” as well. Networking for networking sake (i.e. “collecting” contacts) is not providing value. It is not demonstrating why you are worthwhile of attention.

Instead, relentlessly provide value to someone you’re trying to get close to. Connect them to someone else, send them some piece of information you think is valuable to them, or invite them to an event they could benefit from.

When the expectation of your message (or presence) is positive, new worlds open up.

Read more about Jay here

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Guest Post: The Legacy of Music

Contributed by Mark Parker 
Owner, Bella Visage | Lakeland, FL

Music

It moves the heart and stimulates the brain. It can soothe or frustrate the spirit. It frees the mind and it grabs you! Music is a part of our lives from birth till death.

We listen when we shower, when we eat, when we work, when we are happy and when we are sad. And usually it’s a part of our last celebration on this earth.

I want to tell you a short story about my dad. Yesterday marked the 16th
anniversary of my dads death.

Looking Back

My dad was a social creature and loved people. He was in the air force. He was a pilot (a gifted pilot). His biggest quality was that he was a tinkerer. He tinkered at woodworking. He tinkered at building electronics. We were the only kids I knew that had a home built computer (TRS-80 from Radio Shack). The thing he tinkered at the longest was music. For as long as I can remember my dad always had a guitar.

He would keep it next to his recliner and occasionally practice. The one thing he never really accomplished was being good. Oh, he could play the hell out of the first 14 notes to “Stairway to Heaven”. Or he could play a Spanish ballad at half speed. But not one whole song, ever!

It was after he died that it dawned on me that his comfort or joy (which ever) didn’t come from mastering the song it came from his attempts. For him it was probably the mechanics of the learning more than the perfecting of a melody. The beauty was in the process. For me, the beauty is in the music itself. It inspires me.

I started with guitar lessons. Then in Junior High I started playing tuba. Picked up baritone and Bass trombone along the way. I was influenced by the world renown musicians that resided here. From Robert McDonald to the Adderley brothers. I earned a full Scholarship to college. Played up until my Senior year. By then I had come to the realization that I wasn’t talented enough to make a living at my passion.

Dreaming of One Day

Well, one day a young fella (his words) moved in next door. He was going to FSC as a music major. He is an amusing fella. He grew up in Fort Meade and is an accomplished fiddler. After traveling the country playing his fiddle he said he was “gonna do it right and finish college.” A few short weeks after moving to Lakeland, he ran into another accomplished musician (and FSC grad). Before long they were playing the local music scene.

One night we where enjoying a few adult beverages on the back patio and he mentioned the band had an opportunity to go on tour for about a week here in Florida. After one or two more beverages a deal was struck. I would be the tour bus driver and beverage manager. Two months later my ginger sidekick, Charlie and I loaded up my motor home and hit the road with BSB.

Charlie provided the snuggles and face licks and I drove. I remembered just how much work goes into the production side. Hours of practice! Hours of driving! Cord changes. Last minute changes by a picky customer. Drastic temperature changes, all of it can affect what happens when the curtain goes up.

Fast forward 3 years. The band is no longer together. Two members are continuing their dream in Nashville and Jason is finishing up his senior year.

What does this have to do with me?

Recently, Jason asked me why I sponsor the events at LKLDLive. I think he already knew the answer but he is sly like that. I thought about that for a minute and said, because music is what helped me become who I am. While I had long ago made the decision that I wasn’t good enough to make a living at it, I am qualified to clap. I am completely qualified to clap. And that is what I’m doing when I carry the equipment.

When I unload the instruments. I can run cables and hang lights. And when needed, I can write a check. In realizing that, I found myself!

Chrissanne recently said “When you find someone else finding themselves, it’s almost as exciting as when you find yourself”! It’s because you know the struggle, the effort that was put in. The sacrifices that where made. It is exciting to watch.

My wife and I are blessed to be able to give back. I will never again blow a horn or sing, but I can encourage those who can or who want to learn. I can support their efforts. I can drive them (and their 4 friends and 400 instruments) on tour. I can enjoy the process of watching them grow and mature musically. I can help them reach a bigger audience by spreading the word.

And most importantly, I can clap.

Each day we are all given opportunities to support someone or some cause. I ask that each of you find something that grabs you. And clap.

Please help me welcome to the stage…

Re-discovering Passion

By Sarah Keener

Tonight, I had an incredible opportunity to attend a fundraising dinner for a local non-profit which is a community of believers, walking with the homeless.  Gospel, Inc is a grassroots organization where the volunteers and leaders are right out there, befriending the homeless of our amazing city.

I’ve been to these dinners before.  A prayer, a speech, a sad video, they ask you for money, you fill out your envelope, you go home full of good food and with a few dollars less in your pocket.  This wasn’t that dinner.

The light bulb came back on.  My spark was re-ignited.  I remembered.

I remembered making cookies and serving them on Christmas Eve with my daughter.  (And if you know me, you know I don’t bake…that was LOVE)  I remembered driving around with my aunt and my mother-in-law, feeding the homeless chili when the weather got cold.  Most of all, I remembered being a 16 year old girl, staying at the Bowery in New York City, a senior in high school, on my senior mission trip.  We sat at a piano while a homeless man who was staying at the Bowery played and sang.  I sat right next to him.  The homeless man became a human.  His gratitude and pure love poured over me.  And I was the one who was supposed to be helping him!  I don’t remember his name, but I remember his love and passion and understanding, his story.

In my heart, I have always felt called to help the homeless.  But we need to help them beyond feeding them every day.  (Feeding them is first priority, but there must be more)  Why do we have a shortage of jobs and an overage of homeless?  While I do understand the reality that some will never be able to work due to circumstances beyond our control, some are able to work, they just don’t know how.  I was able to come out of the dinner, with a new idea, a new perspective to solve two problems with one solution.  Let’s help these men and women work, in good jobs, and make it a joint effort.

Is this going to work?  I don’t know.  What I do know, is I found my spark again.  MY cause… My reasoning.