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Wyoming Business Tips for Sept. 18-24

September 9, 2016

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Robert Condie, WSBDC southwest regional director

“How can I, as a small-business owner, compete with big-box stores moving into my area?” Sally, Pinedale

We see it time and time again when big name stores enter a community, and it seems that the little guys can get lost in the shuffle.

How do you, as a small-business owner, keep up with those stores and maybe even thrive when they enter your area? Here are a few tips to help get started:

-- Don’t panic at the thought of the big store moving in. It can be a daunting feeling knowing a big store is moving in, but this can be a great time to look at the inner workings of your store to see where you can get better.

-- Don’t be afraid to be different. Many big stores have a little bit of everything but seem to be very light in all areas. Find a niche, and build a deep selection in that niche. Try to become known as the place to go for that certain item or idea. Focus on what makes your business unique. Emphasize the originality of your inventory as compared to the items offered by the chain store.

-- Make sure to pay personal attention to each and every customer. Treat each person as your best customer. In a smaller store, you have the luxury to concentrate on the smallest of details -- superb customer service is the biggest intangible asset to the independent business owner.

-- Staff your store with people who can help with the other steps, and take care of those employees. Treat them fairly, and pay attention to their needs. Help your staff become proficient in their respective departments, and make sure they are readily available to meet customers' needs. If your employees can provide this, your customers will have an extra incentive to continue doing business with you.

These tips for competing with big-box stores can help level the playing field. As a customer’s shopping choice changes, so should your thinking. To succeed, you must lead or be ready to keep pace with the change.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments are available at www.wyen.biz/blog1/.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email wsbdc@uwyo.edu, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.


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