In the age of big-box stores and multi-national conglomerates, it’s easy to get nostalgic for the bygone days spent at your local Main Street business. Maybe you even dream of starting your own business inspired by the times when people went shopping at the neighborhood market, buying shoes from the local cobbler, or stopping at the mom-and-pop diner down the street for a burger and a slice of pie.
Those were the days, right?
As it turns out, those good old days are still happening today!
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s small business profiles, businesses with fewer than 500 employees and generating less than $7 million in revenue still account for 99.9% of all U.S. businesses. That’s an overwhelming portion of the economy.
What’s more, Main Street businesses make up about two-thirds of the businesses in the country and employ up to 24 million people, according to the SBA.
Main Street might not look exactly like it used to, but small businesses are still out there.
For one thing, social media and the proliferation of online shopping have sent a lot of small businesses online for the majority of their revenue.
But even with a different look and feel, small businesses in America are still thriving through the same attention to detail, community focus, and top-notch customer service that we’ve always known and loved.
Main Street business, defined
You might think of a “Main Street” business as one of the essential establishments that frequently make up the center of town. Some of the oldest ones have rich histories and are beloved businesses. They’re very similar to small-town businesses and tend to be very central to the community in which they’re situated.
A Main Street business is sometimes also distinguished from other businesses based on size. “Main Street” businesses are often juxtaposed against the “Wall Street” businesses that tend to be massive and lacking in the personal, small business touch that Main Street businesses bring to the game.
Main Street business ideas
Before chain and big-box stores became the norm, each town or city had its own locally owned businesses. Many of these were on Main Street and when it came time to run errands, people would head to their favorite Main Street businesses to buy what they needed.
These days, Main Street businesses might be the sort of things you expect to be in the town center, some of the most important stores you would visit frequently. Whether you just want to learn more about Main Street businesses, or are considering starting one of your own, here are some Main Street business ideas.
Convenience stores are exactly that, convenient. While these stores don’t usually have the vast selection a big-box store does (mostly because they’re a fraction of the size), they do have just enough to satisfy a shopper’s needs. While not everyone will buy their entire household’s worth of groceries from their Main Street convenience store, it’s the perfect solution when you need to grab something in a pinch, or only need a few items to supplement a larger grocery haul. From staples like milk and bread to more specific items like ice cream or paper towels, your local convenience store probably has it.
This is what makes a convenience store such a good option as a Main Street business idea. As with any business, you should analyze any competitors in the area before opening your own, though. If your town already has both big-box and smaller mom-and-pop grocers, you probably won’t find much success by introducing another convenience store into the mix.
The small town pharmacy is another great Main Street business venture. While there are a lot of big chain pharmacies out there, they really struggle to capture the personal touch and charm of a local pharmacy where the people behind the counter know their clients personally. Plus, proximity is a big selling point. If there’s no convenient pharmacy in your town, then there’s definitely a need. When someone is sick and needs to fill a prescription, they don’t want to travel far, after all.
This is a Main Street business that requires some specific training and has a little more red tape associated with it than your average business, but if you’re excited about the idea and willing to put in the work, it can be worth it.
A dry cleaner is an essential Main Street business in any town. Whether you have an entire work wardrobe of dry-clean-only clothes, or a few special occasion or seasonal pieces that need extra care, nearly everyone has to go to a dry cleaner at some point. As with the Main Street business ideas above, proximity plays a large role. No one wants to travel far to drop off or pick up their dry cleaning. Additionally, this is a business built on trust—people are trusting you to clean their nicer clothing. With a Main Street dry cleaning business, your customers will appreciate the personal touch and individualized service you can offer.
Some dry-cleaning businesses also employ a tailor so you can also offer alterations and small repairs to clients’ clothing as well. Plus, if done correctly, a dry cleaner can be an eco-friendly small business, which is a valuable addition to any Main Street.
A coffee shop is a classic Main Street establishment that can fill a need for almost everyone—whether as a weekend treat while out running errands, a daily stop on the way to work, or a place to catch up with friends over a brew and a bite, no Main Street is complete without a coffee shop.
And your coffee shop doesn’t have to stop at coffee—teas and other specialty drinks, baked goods, or even a full menu can help bring in customers.
Salon and barbershop
A salon or barbershop is a classic Main Street business that every town needs. What makes them such staples when it comes to Main Street businesses is that everyone needs somewhere to have their hair cut, and having a place to go that’s right in the center of town is a convenient and reliable option for many.
If you’re thinking about starting a salon, consider what you can offer clients that other establishments might not. Perks like referral programs, refreshments, or even personalized welcome boards can go a long way to make your clients feel appreciated and pampered.
If you’ve got an eye for accessories, opening a jewelry shop can be a great Main Street business to start. It can be hard to find quality jewelry from a store that isn’t a chain, and even harder to find an experienced jeweler to repair and clean your sentimental jewelry.
If you offer repair and cleaning services as well, your Main Street jewelry business will be even more popular.
A town brewery or beer hall is a newer business that’s gaining in popularity. It’s not the easiest business to open, and you’ll need significant space and resources, but a craft brewery makes a great addition to any Main Street or town center.
If you’re wondering how to start a brewery, our guide can help you get started. In the last decade or so more and more breweries or beer halls carrying numerous local beers have been popping up in the center of towns across the country. Not only do they offer a great gathering place, but they can also be family and pet-friendly locations as well.
Tutoring and exam prep services
If you live in a town with a lot of school-aged children in it, opening a tutoring and test prep service could prove a lucrative Main Street business. Offering personalized tutoring along with preparation courses for exams like the SAT, ACT, and AP exams could mean a booming business.
Some parents are willing to pay significant money to help their children ace their college entrance exams, or score high enough on their AP exams to help knock out some college credit before they head off to higher education.
And during the school year, offering individual tutoring sessions for students of all ages can help supplement the business as well.
Gift and flower shop
Whether for an occasion or just because, flowers are always a great addition, which makes opening up a flower and gift shop a classic Main Street business idea.
Florists can sell bouquets on a daily basis for those looking to gift them, but they can also work with event planners and venues for special occasions like weddings or parties. Combining a florist shop with a gift shop is a key way to make your business a one-stop-shop for your customers who need to pick up a cute card and a small gift or bunch of flowers or houseplant for the housewarming or birthday party they’re headed to.
Main Street businesses that found success
It can never hurt to get a little inspiration from Main Street businesses that have already had some success. While the options listed above are certainly some viable Main Street business ideas, below we’ll go over some businesses that have turned their Main Street business ideas into a success.
Creative Main Street businesses
Literature, fine art, creative crafts, and more are classic Main Street businesses that benefit from staying small.
These creative small businesses are so positively charming, we don’t know why we’d ever shop anywhere else!
A longtime staple for Baltimore book lovers, coloring enthusiasts, and comic aficionados, Atomic Books embraces its local market and is a well-established Main Street business.
The store was founded in 1992 by Scott Huffines and is now run by Ben Ray and Rachel Whang. The store exhibits many local masters’ works and hosts an assortment of events, readings, stand up, and book and music clubs.
If you’re a John Waters fan (the man behind the movie Hairspray), the owners at Atomic can even help get your notes and gifts delivered straight to him—they’ve managed his fan mail for years!
With a commitment to keeping woodworking not only alive, but also fresh, Justin Nelson works tirelessly from his Oregon home to handcraft one-of-a-kind artwork pieces that deliver both utility and aesthetic. His business, Fernweh Woodworking, produces tables, chairs, home decor, and more.
A former marine and firefighter, Nelson has broken away from strict military culture to embrace the diversity, passion, and fulfillment in operating a small business. Nelson consistently builds loyalty and engagement with his customers through prizes and giveaways on social media, as well as through the level of attention and care given to each and every piece.
Murder by the Book
Based in Houston, Texas, this one-of-a-kind mystery bookstore is one of the oldest and largest specialty stores in the country. Featuring every variety of new and used books, first edition collectibles, and even magazines in the mystery genre, Murder by the Book has become a local favorite for readers who enjoy a good thrill.
The store’s owners have kept their small business charm alive by regularly hosting luncheons with mystery authors and themed book discussion groups, as well as offering frequent shopper and event attendance reward programs.
Located in an old Victorian house in Southern Pines, North Carolina, Valhalla Tattoo focuses on clean, bold, and colorful artistry.
The shop is run by veterans Craig Morrison, Gabe Drummond, and Matt Nelson, who also give back to their veteran community. Every year, Valhalla holds a fundraiser to donate the proceeds from 31 tattoos to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The number 31 represents the 31 U.S. soldiers lost in 2011 when a Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan, as three of those killed were from the Southern Pines area.
Each tattoo artist has their own distinct style, encompassing traditional, geometric, mehndi, and realistic designs.
Fashion and accessory Main Street businesses
Social media, pop-up events, and word-of-mouth connections make the fashion industry a great place to be a small business owner.
Even as much larger companies seek to dominate the market, we’ll always hold a special place in our hearts for small, community-focused businesses like these.
Cobra Rock Boot Company
Out in Marfa, Texas, an isolated town in the West Texas plains, Colt Miller and Logan Caldbeck handcraft all-American leather boots at Cobra Rock Boot Company.
Each pair of boots takes about two weeks to make, and multiple pairs are made at the same time. The couple spends so much time, along with a few other shoemakers, completing orders that they barely have enough time to release new designs, and most orders must be pre-ordered.
From the painstaking process of making each pair of boots to the personalized bags in which each order is delivered, it’s easy to see the handcrafted, genuine touches that make this business the very definition of small-town Texas charm.
What once began as a mother’s decision to hand-make safe and natural toys for her child evolved into Savage Seeds, a small business devoted to ethically hand-making clothing from non-toxic materials in the U.S.
All toys continue to be made by owner C.V. Savage and tested by her own children. Each order is designed with great attention to every detail, from the materials to the designs and packaging—which includes a packet of seeds and planting instructions.
Savage Seeds’ dedication to positively impacting the lives of others extends beyond delivering an exceptional product, but also to supporting other businesses that are ethically earning a living.
Food and beverage Main Street businesses
There’s nothing quite as classically Main Street as good food made by your hometown natives.
Here are a few of our favorite Main Street businesses in the food and beverage sector.
Astoria Bier & Cheese
With “happy cows (and goats and sheep!) = happy cheeses = happy ABC = happy YOU” in mind, this Astoria, New York-based specialty beer and cheese shop has seen great success.
Founded in 2009 by native Astorian Yang Gao, Astoria Bier & Cheese has a rotating selection of craft beers on tap and a very fun menu of items from the cheese that they sell in-store.
The staff’s dedication to knowing customers by name and remembering their preferences, as well as sourcing snacks and bar items through fellow local businesses, has made Astoria Bier & Cheese a local favorite.
What once began as a hobby for roommates Marshall Thompson and Eric Feldman became a renowned brewery in Brooklyn, New York.
With the last brewery on “Brewers Row”, where Braven Brewing is currently located, closing down in 1976, the two have revived a great history of brewing in the Bushwick community. The brewery is loyal to its surrounding community—local artists were hired to design the company’s logo and local businesses supply their ingredients.
After earning the distinction of worst student in his Italian class at Dickinson College, founder Neal McTighe went on to earn a PhD in the language and build a business around authentically making Italian premium tomato sauce.
The premium sauces offered at Nellino’s Sauce in Raleigh, North Carolina, are made with quality ingredients and culinary traditions that would impress even the pickiest of pasta enthusiasts.
And even as Nellino’s sauces become available from more and more retailers nationwide, this business continues to stick to its roots of only the finest homemade sauce.
Health and fitness Main Street businesses
Besides the 24-hour big box gyms that seem to be popping up on every corner around the country, more and more small businesses are pushing back with a more holistic approach to health and fitness.
For customers who prefer a more personalized experience, Main Street businesses like these are a welcome local sight.
The Bloom Method Fitness
From her home in the mountains of Boulder, Colorado, Brooke Cates developed her pregnancy fitness method, “The Bloom Method” to cater to preconception, prenatal, and postpartum women.
Cates’ goal is to have women develop the mental and physical abilities that encourage healthy pregnancies, smooth labor, healthier babies, and easier recovery from labor.
Although Cates’ methods have caught the attention of moms-to-be all over the country, her dedication to personalized, one-on-one coaching makes this fitness fanatic the definition of Main Street charm.
Kona Skate Park
Located in the heart of sunny Jacksonville, Florida, Kona Skatepark is the oldest outdoor privately owned skate park in the United States… and possibly the world.
Even as its fame in the skating community grows, this small business shows an ongoing commitment to its local community by hosting skate camps for all ages and ability levels, as well as ongoing classes for all ages.
Household goods Main Street businesses
From the home office, to the kitchen, to what hangs on the walls—unique and creative small businesses around the country are giving department and discount stores a run for their money with unique and popular offerings.
Instagram and other social media sites help to spread the word about many of these Main Street businesses, helping them to gain traction even outside their immediate communities.
Opened in 2009 by artisan friends Diane Jackson and Amanda Vernon, Santa Monica, California’s Mindfulnest is quite literally a modern Main Street standard.
The small shop features locally made art, jewelry, gifts, and accessories—often including pieces made by the owners themselves. And by consistently investing in their local community—particularly through Santa Monica’s weekly Farmer’s Market events, Jackson and Vernon continue to secure their place as a long-term Santa Monica staple.
Outdoor and farming Main Street businesses
Once upon a time, words like sustainability and environmental footprint weren’t what you’d typically associate with charming small businesses.
But these days, what could be better for the local community than a business focused on keeping us healthy for the long haul?
That’s why these environmentally friendly Main Street businesses get high praise on our list.
What exactly can be charming about dirt?
With the composting company Detroit Dirt, just about everything!
Detroit Dirt partners with local companies to recycle waste into fertile soil for community gardens, encouraging urban farming as a way to revitalize this historic city. Though still a for-profit business, this team aims to do a lot more than simply sell dirt. They also aim to lower transportation costs, reduce the city’s environmental footprint, develop neighborhoods, and install a long-lost pride for the city of Detroit.
Based in Bethel, Alaska, Meyers Farm is a sustainable pesticide-, herbicide-, and chemical fertilizer-free farm.
Their fertilizers are made out of compost made from the Alaskan Bush and are infused with salmon. And not only are husband and wife team Tim and Lisa Meyers committed to chemical-free sustainability, but they have also overcome the many challenges of growing produce in their permanently frozen Alaskan hometown in order to provide their community with local, fresh, and affordable produce.
Weddings, events, and hospitality Main Street businesses
There’s something about a wedding that makes us especially nostalgic for all things small and local.
And because small businesses are often better able to cater to local interests and tastes that may not translate to a national audience, events and hospitality are one industry where small businesses are most likely to thrive.
Here are just a couple of our favorite vendors who have a special eye on creating a comfortable atmosphere.
Chimes Bed and Breakfast
Entering from the historic Chimes Bed and Breakfast’s vast front porch, each of the five rooms within this 30-year-old bed and breakfast in the Uptown/Garden District of New Orleans has its own private entrance.
Owners Jill and Charles Abbyad take pride in helping each guest design itineraries to experience New Orleans at their own perfect speed.
Even as chain hotels and Airbnb properties threaten to overtake the New Orleans hospitality scene, the Abbyad family’s dedication to creating personalized customer experiences has guaranteed the ongoing success of this unique and charming New Orleans establishment.
Southern Weddings Magazine
While not many would think of a magazine as a Main Street business, the women at Southern Weddings have proven an ongoing dedication to keeping things down-home.
From their headquarters at editor-in-chief Lara Casey’s Chapel Hill, North Carolina, home, Southern Weddings publishes both a once annual print edition and an ongoing online magazine that prioritizes family and rejects bridezilla culture, focusing instead on the trends, venues, and companies that embody traditional southern values.
Chief among this team’s top tips for southern brides?
“We believe in picking a wedding date based on the SEC football schedule!”
The final word
Though these businesses represent different industries, values, and points of view, each and every one maintains its own unique personality and commitment to the local communities it serves—the common traits that continue to define Main Street charm.
If you’re considering starting your own Main Street business, here’s some inspiration to help you along. And hopefully, you’ll also be inspired to check out the Main Street businesses in your area and support your local entrepreneurs.
This article originally appeared on JustBusiness, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.
How to Grow Your Small Business Startup: 4 Essential Steps
Around 90% of startups fail. And while some of those failures can be attributed to bad luck, many others were the result of poor decisions at the early stages of building the company.
But while that statistic may seem discouraging, it can also provide motivation to those entrepreneurs who are willing to follow the best practices of launching a startup and push through the various challenges that will inevitably come up during the process.
With the help of a few simple (but fundamental) strategies, you can separate yourself from the majority of other startups and give yourself a real shot of making a product that will break through and make a difference.
To help you get started, let’s look at four crucial aspects of launching a startup that you should consider.
Start with the “Why?”
The number one thing you should do when launching a new company is to ask yourself a simple question:
Why is this solution necessary?
There are millions of startups globally, and the majority of them would fail to provide a viable answer. Some just want to break into a hot market because they think that will increase their chances of success. Others believe they have a unique idea without knowing whether there’s any demand for it.
But in most cases, ideas that might seem reasonable at first glance crumble when their purpose is questioned even a little.
So, if you want to avoid pouring your heart and soul into a project only to find out that it was a waste of time, it’s a good idea to spend a fair amount of time thinking about the core purpose of your product and the effort it will take to launch it.
Most of the successful startups you might have heard in recent years started with a very clear idea of the purpose behind the company. It can be a feature that no other product in the market can offer. Or, it might be a unique process for solving a problem that will change the industry forever.
Most of the time, there’s at least a clear answer to why the startup needs to exist in the first place. If you strip away the gimmicks and the additional features, you should still be left with the core idea of what you can offer that no one else can.
Take Care of Your Employees
No matter how you decide to finance your startup, you won’t be able to go forward alone for long. And that means that at some point, you will need to figure out how you’ll take on employees and ensure that they are happy and protected.
Then, there are various state and federal regulations that determine how much paperwork you’ll need to file out, what protections you’ll need to offer, and countless other details that someone outside of the HR world has probably never dealt with.
Because of that, startups can benefit from using HR outsourcing services that can take over the entire process. The team at SnackNation recommends using services like Bambee or Workday, which provide comprehensive solutions for companies of all sizes.
These companies can offer HR consulting, benefits administration, performance management, payroll, bookkeeping, and various other services that can be a hassle to manage on your own when you’re just starting a new company and have a lot on your plate already.
Plus, it ensures that you implement the best HR practices of today and that your employees are taken care of. And that will make attracting the top talent you need for growth that much easier.
Use a Proven Website Platform
Launching a startup is impossible without a strong web presence. And that inevitably starts and ends with your website. But if you don’t have experience with building and designing websites, the entire process can be a bit overwhelming.
The good news is that with a platform like WordPress, you can have a website set up in a matter of days if you want something simple. But at the same time, the platform offers robust customization capabilities and it can get a bit confusing when picking the right ones. That’s why it’s a good idea to curate your own WordPress toolbox that includes a wide variety of powerful themes, plugins, add-ons and WordPress resources that you know would always work for your website.
In the end, you want to find fast hosting, install robust security features, and provide a seamless User Experience (UX) to all of your site’s visitors.
Designing a site from scratch can be appealing. But WordPress can give you enough versatility to get any features you need while remaining user-friendly enough to keep costs down and provide you with a simple way to get started.
As a startup owner, you will probably never run out of avenues you could pursue. Whether it’s the new shiny marketing tool or a promising networking opportunity, there will be times when you’ll want to do everything at once because that’s what could give the company the best chance of success.
But in reality, maintaining focus and clarity in terms of priorities might be the most practical choice for your startup in the long term.
By only focusing on a few things at a time, you will allow yourself to really give them time, tweaking your approach until you find what’s working. Moving on to something else is easy, but then you might miss out on incredible opportunities because you were too quick to dismiss something without giving it a real shot.
So, whether it’s a marketing approach or adding features to your product, always weigh the potential benefit against the resources it would require and against how it would impact what you’re doing right now.
Sure, at some point, you will need to cut your losses with projects that didn’t pan out. But it’s a good idea to stick with them for a bit longer than you might want to, especially if you know that it’s a sound strategy that could deliver big if you would just find the right approach.
Launching a successful startup is a dream that drives millions of entrepreneurs worldwide. But only those that follow sound business principles and are disciplined in their decision-making can expect to see success.
The strategies listed above may not be flashy, but they represent essential parts of running and scaling a startup. And sometimes, taking care of the less flashy details like HR management can set you up for exceptional results in the future.
Starting a new online business during the pandemic: Two COVID-era tales of renewal in Miami
The pandemic forced more than three-quarters of small businesses across the U.S. to temporarily close up shop in the spring of 2020, and thousands have since shut down for good.
But the COVID-19 pandemic also led to a record number of people trying to start their own businesses: 4.5 million filed new business applications in 2020, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Economic Innovation Group.
And the momentum isn’t slowing. The Census Bureau says 492,000 new business applications were received in January 2021, a 43% jump over the previous month. Many more informal businesses are believed to have been created, often as side hustles, but never registered.
Few cities saw more aspiring entrepreneurs than Miami. Although new business creation was not distributed evenly across racial and socio-economic lines, green shoots of entrepreneurship popped up across the metro area, helping to bring a dose of resilience to the local economy.
[At the same time, untold numbers of existing small businesses — restaurants, neighborhood shops, salons — decided to establish a digital presence, allowing them to find new customers and take orders from beyond their immediate area.
In all, the number of digitally connected microbusinesses in Miami-Dade County rose 6.7% from 2019 to 2020, according to data from GoDaddy’s Venture Forward project, which studies the economic impact of these small online businesses. The Miami metro area, which includes the neighboring cities of Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach, has more microbusinesses per 100 people than any other large metro area in the country.
These everyday entrepreneurs make a big impact on their communities, with each new one leading to the creation of two additional jobs, Venture Forward data shows. Additionally, each new microbusiness per 100 people can reduce the unemployment rate by .05 percentage points.
And between 2016 and 2019, every microbusiness per 100 people that’s active online was associated with a $485 increase in a community’s household median income.
Here are the stories of two inspiring women entrepreneurs who took the initiative when the pandemic upended their lives.
Natasha Nails: Rethinking the press-on
It took a painful case of contact dermatitis, a type of allergy, following a visit to a nail salon for Natasha Williams to come up with an online business idea for the future of press-on nails.
The Miami native, who lives in Little Havana, has had her nails done since her teens.
But after her allergic reaction in March 2020, she was forced to switch to press-on nails that used hypoallergenic adhesive pads.
Unhappy with the appearance of what was available — they felt cheap and plasticky — Williams started buying clear nails and hand painting them with her favorite colors and designs.
Around the same time, the pandemic shut down the local economy. A well-known tap dance performer and teacher around Miami, Williams suddenly had a lot of time as lessons and gigs dried up.
By July, buoyed by the admiring comments she got from friends and strangers on the street, she realized there was a market for her creations, so she quickly built an online store and Natasha Nails opened for business.
At first, it was as much a hobby as a career plan. But soon she started asking questions and understanding the opportunity was real.
Why did women tend to apply press-on nails and leave them on and then throw them out? Given how easy they are to remove and reapply, particularly the adhesive-pad type, wouldn’t it be more fun and affordable to have collections of nails so they could match outfits or daily moods, the way they choose which shoes to wear or purse to carry?
“I want people to be able to mix and match, like ‘let’s see what I have in my closet to wear today,’” she says.
If she can popularize this approach, women may one day not feel obliged to suffer the daily inconveniences of wearing long nails.
“Just try typing all day with these things on,” she laughs, showing off long, olive nails. “You really can’t do much. And anyone who tells you differently is lying!”
While her new business doesn’t make enough money for her to quit her teaching, she spends about the same number of hours on both.
That includes 30 minutes each morning tending to her growing Instagram account — where she has amassed more than 5,000 followers who account for most of the orders on her website — and a few hours in the evening painting nails, including custom orders, and packaging up boxes for customers who opt for her monthly subscriptions.
Many challenges remain — particularly how to scale production beyond her ability to hand-paint nails while maintaining the artistic quality. But Williams is definitely a long-term thinker who hopes that, some day, her creations will be featured at major retailers.
“I don’t see obstacles as problems, but as challenges,” she says of the process of building a company. “You just have to follow the steps.”
Read more about Natasha’s story here.
Starting an online charcuterie-to-go
Like so many healthcare workers around the world, Maryam Kheirabi faced new demands when the pandemic hit. An oncology pharmacist with a Miami-area hospital, she suddenly had more hours, more stress and more fears of the unknown.
To deal with the growing pressure, Kheirabi decided she needed a new activity, something that would take her mind off her stressful job and give her a newfound source of fulfillment.
“I’m happiest when I’m extremely busy, and I wanted to create something beautiful for people to share,” she says. “In a way, I think the business got me through the worst days of the pandemic. It gives me hope, and hopefully it gives other people hope, as well.”
The idea came to her soon after the pandemic began, when she saw groups of friends eating from plastic containers full of snacks at a park across the street from her home for socially distanced get-togethers.
“How cool would it be to have a charcuterie box to go,” she remembers thinking. It would give people the option to pre-order a food board that could be delivered just when it was needed.
A native of Queens, N.Y., who moved to Miami with her speech pathologist husband in 2016, Kheirabi grew up being responsible for creating food platters for family gatherings.
“We Persians are very big on hospitality, and I never lost my love for creating beautiful, delicious things,” she says.
Once the first spike in COVID-19 cases began to ease in August, she started doing research, which included the creation of a variety of charcuterie platters for colleagues at the hospital.
A cousin in New Jersey agreed to help her secure a domain name and choose website-building tools.
“The rest was left up to me, but it was mostly dealing with aesthetics, which I love, anyway,” she says.
In early November, Fig & Brie officially launched, with a range of offerings, from a $20 “solo” platter to an $85 “soiree” box.
The seed capital was $2,000 that her husband, Francisco, urged her to take from their savings, with the understanding that they wouldn’t spend any more if the business wasn’t profitable after a month. She ended up spending $1,900 of it in that time, but by early December the business was making money.
Kheirabi’s digital marketing strategy initially was solely based on Instagram, in part because she wanted to grow slowly at first. But sales jumped more quickly than expected over the holidays, as friends and fans spread the word. One local real estate broker ordered platters as gifts to her clients.
It wasn’t easy, but she and her husband managed to keep up with demand while maintaining their jobs in healthcare. It helps that most orders come on Thursdays or Fridays, for delivery on Saturday.
Francisco does everything from taking photos to taste-testing to driving their only car around the city making deliveries. When he once asked what he would be paid for all his work, she quipped, “Sorry, but we pay in cheese.”
Her near-term goal is to have enough demand to hire a driver or two, and then to find a way to ship around the U.S. (That will require some innovation, to either find a way to keep fruits and veggies crunchy and fresh, or to come up with boards that meet her standards without those foods.)
Ultimately, she’d like to open a storefront in Miami and share her business model so women in other places could follow suit.
“I wouldn’t be doing this if it was only for the money,” she says. “That’s just icing on the cake.” The primary reward, other than enriching customers’ lives, is to empower women, including herself.
“We’re living in a time when women are standing up and taking charge of themselves,” she says. She even welcomes the competition from other female-owned online charcuteries in the city. “There’s enough demand to go around,” she says. “Women shouldn’t compete with each other. We should lift each other up.”
The post Starting a new online business during the pandemic: Two COVID-era tales of renewal in Miami appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.
New to Entrepreneurship: Here Are 6 Tips You Can Bank On
Entrepreneurship is not a career, it is a life choice. Many people have mind-blowing business ideas. It’s almost enticing to jump right into starting up your new business. But as fun, as that sounds, the reality of running a successful business is a lot more complicated than that.
Most times opening up a business is usually a learn-as-you-go experience, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are essential tips that when implemented well can be the smartest decision you will ever make for your business.
Brand Your Business
What does the term branding mean to you? Most people perceive branding as the logo, colors, and visual component that you associate your business with, but it’s a little more than that. Branding is the entire identity of the business. It is what makes your business stand out in crowds.
In a fast-growing business world, it is important to create a strong brand for your business. This way it outshines your competitors, gets people’s attention, and makes it more recognizable. Branding gives you a chance to get some control over how people perceive your business.
Build a Team
Manpower is a vital part of any successful company. It is significant for ensuring that operations are running smoothly and efficiently. Coming up with a good workforce is the secret ingredient for achieving a good relationship between your company and your customers. They are the face of the company and give an essence of the human touch to your business.
It can not go unmentioned that with improved technology manpower is rapidly being replaced with machines. That said, creating and maintaining a reasonable amount of manpower for your business can be a life-saver hack. Coming up with a team of educated and well-trained individuals will improve productivity, provide innovations, and maintain the relevance of your business in the market, something technology can’t provide.
Buy Raw Materials in Bulk
Depending on what your company’s end product is, consider purchasing the raw materials required at wholesale. Stockpiling the raw materials when they are at their lowest prices is a money-saving hack. Buying raw materials at a low enough wholesale price reduces the cost of production and in the long run, maximizes profits from your retail sales.
Consider finding a reliable wholesale distributor, this makes purchasing more efficient and you are assured of the quality of materials you will be getting. Ensure they supply within your geographical region, have prices you can afford and are trustworthy.
Advertise Your Business.
Promoting your business is a key aspect if you want to outshine your competitors and make your product or service known to your potential customers. Businesses have different ways of promoting their brands; they range from handing out flyers to postcards to brochures to advertisements in newspapers to online marketing.
Using social media platforms to promote your product or service is a no-brainer. It is the best way to get your name out there fast enough, while also providing solutions to about ninety percent of the population online searching for similar products. Some businesses opt to invest in a large indoor LED screen because of its efficiency in displaying stunning images. These types of screens are eye-catching, outstanding, and popular for their diversity in use, hence playing a major role in advertising brands.
As a business owner, take time to research which medium of advertisement will best suit your enterprise and proceed to invest in it.
Invest in Packaging
While most new business owners overlook the need to properly package their product you must seize the chance and stand out. packaging is the first touch that customers will have with your brand.
It is therefore important to create enticing packaging for your consumers that will draw attention to your brand. It is imperative to incorporate eye-catching shapes, colors, quotes, and packaging material that is unique to your brand. This will make the unpacking experience for your customers exciting and unique hence creating loyalty and enhancing customer retention. Keep in mind that with evolving people and markets, your packaging must evolve to keep up.
Be Sure to Keep Records
For any business, accountability is key. Efficient record keeping will help to keep everything in order and help to analyze your company’s financial status, provide insight into what your real profit is, answer tax problems, or keep track of deductible expenses.
Precise record-keeping of finances and expenses throughout a business’s lifespan makes it easier for you to adjust your business plan accordingly to help solicit new business partners or investors.
Even after a business picks up, managers are tempted to focus more on production and profits and overlook record-keeping, so don’t fall into this trap.
Choosing whether to keep the record in soft copy or hard copy is totally dependent on the business owner’s preference.
Let’s be honest, starting a new enterprise can be a little bit hectic because it requires a lot of planning, sacrifice, and money. That said if you have your business idea don’t wait for the right moment because it will never come. Take the leap and trust your instincts. All you need to do is apply the six tips explained above and you are good to go. Good luck setting up your new enterprise.
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