In truth, we couldn't stop at five ideas. We actually wrote 21. This post shares our top five but the entire post is about 3,000 words or just about over 15 pages as a document. If you'd like all 21 ideas, we'll send them to you in an email. Click here for all 21 Ideas to Help Your Business Make It in Asheville.
This post is the love child of our own need to grow a business. You see, we just started a small marketing and business consulting agency in Asheville and have put a lot of time into thinking about how to build it, grow it, and sustain it.
After writing down all the ideas that could help our own business thrive, we thought: “Wait a minute —there are so many great ideas here! Why not share this with others?”
We hope that these concepts spark new ideas for you, help you to take action, and give you support on the way. Know that you certainly don’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) use all of these. Pick the ones that work for you, and leave the rest.
If you have any questions, you know how to find us!
Let’s dive in.
1) Partner with your neighborhood.
Look around you. As in your physical location. What other businesses are there? What do they have to offer that can complement your own business and vice versa? Is there an opportunity to co-host an event together?
Example: This past summer, four downtown-based retail shops partnered together to host an event called the First Friday Shop Hop. Every first Friday of the month, they stayed open a little later and gave out free wine or beer to their customers. Each customer also got a “passport.” By visiting every shop on the passport and getting their paper passport stamped, the customer could enter to win a box of goodies which had an item from each store. It was a great event to bring awareness to retail stores during the summer when most people are out eating and drinking. It was also a great way to leverage each of the store’s customer bases to bring awareness to other shops in town and build everyone’s email list (see below).
How can you do the same? Perhaps you do a newsletter exchange to reach a new audience, or maybe you just offer special neighborhood discounts to other employees in the area. Get together with your neighbors and brainstorm!
2) Build an email list.
If you don’t have an email list or newsletter, let us be clear: Start. One. NOW.
Don’t let social media be your only communication channel. The algorithms on Facebook, Instagram, and other social channels change all the time and you could easily lose touch with your audience if that’s the only digital way you’re communicating with them.
And hoping that they simply walk back into your store or come back to your website won’t cut it either.
So, how do you start and grow a mailing list? Here’s the abridged version.
Step 1: Pick an email software. Nine times out of ten, we’d recommend that new businesses start a mailing list by using MailChimp software because it’s easy to use and sits at a fair price point for most people.
Step 2: Create an easy way for people to sign up for your mailing list. Add a sign-up form somewhere highly visible in your store. If you don’t have a brick and mortar, make sure you have multiple easy ways for people to sign up on your website. Even add it to your email signature.
Step 3. Provide people a reason to sign-up. Though they’re common to see, we don’t love blanket discounts (something like 15% off for signing up). Instead, consider making your mailing list the only place your customers can hear about special offers. But most importantly, write great newsletters. Chances are if the newsletter is meaningful, people will share it with their friends and family, growing your list exponentially.
If you need help getting started or improving your email marketing strategy, we’d be glad to help. Our marketing agency, Making It Creative, specializes in email marketing and list building strategy.
3) Join a local business group.
Sometimes the best advice and support comes from someone outside of your business. Join a local business or networking group where you can meet like-minded people and garner new ideas. Business groups can also be a great way to find new partnerships.
Here are a few of our favorite local business groups:
- West Asheville Business Association
- Charlotte Street Business Association
- Young Professionals of Asheville
- Asheville Business for Success
- AVL Community of Freelancers, Remote Workers & Self-Employed
- AIGA Asheville (American Institute of Graphic Arts)
4) Invest in professional development.
Think: What aspect of your business would you like to get better at? Then, find a course and workshop that teaches that skill.
Here are some places you can find local classes and workshops:
5) Know your competition — then befriend them.
You probably already know a lot about your “competitors” but if you don’t, take some time and research who else does what you do in this area. Browse through local Asheville newspapers and magazines, and do a quick Google search to find out who else is in your space (search “Asheville” + “your industry”).
Consider: What are they good at? How are you differentiating your business from them?
If they offer something that you don’t, why not recommend people to them?
It sounds counter-intuitive but this “I’ll scratch your back, you’re welcome to but-under-no-obligation-to scratch mine” mentality can be more beneficial than constantly being down each other’s throats.
After sending a few people their direction, reach out. Say hello. Tell them you admire their work and have even referred folks. See how it goes. Then, consider partnering with them strategically. After all, two heads are better than one.
We actually have 16 other ideas for you to use…
We hope these first five ideas have sparked your creativity, curiosity, and commitment. Want our entire list of 21 ideas? We’ll send you a printable PDF with all of them.