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Good afternoon dear reader & welcome to my world again this week. I was away again last weekend @ the Marlborough Garden Show. My first such venture & leaving I wondered why I had never been before. Simply a stunning experience & provided my inspiration to share with you all today.

For the past 30 years or so, certainly as long as I can remember, the focus of a great deal of literature on small businesses has been growth. Whether they offer advice on how to develop a winning vision statement, attract & retain customers, multiply your EBIT or manage a project or campaign, the dominant voices in the most popular literature promise to help you increase your services programs & ability to grow.

These materials suggest the small business is somehow deficient, ill-equipped by definition, because, it has to be bigger. Frankly, as one may expect, I disagree. I believe small businesses ~ which, by the way, make up the majority employment in this country, are uniquely equipped for success in the twenty-first century. In my comments today I offer example of strengths I believe are inherent in small businesses. These qualities are not limited to a SME only; they can be found in larger businesses too. But smaller businesses can better leverage these characteristics for success.

“Authenticity” has become an important American value. Authors James Gilmore & Joseph Pine claim in their best-selling book, Authenticity; instead of searching for high-quality goods & services, “people increasingly make purchase decisions based on how real or fake they perceive various offerings.” This consumer value has influenced what people look for in a purchase.

Almost intuitively, good leaders recognize their business needs to be perceived as authentic if they want people to visit & come back. Spend a few minutes looking at websites online, & you will find “About” pages describing everything “authentic”.
These instincts seem to be accurate. A poll at website I read reveals the number one reason people return to after an initial visit is because they deem the business “authentic”.

At the risk of oversimplifying this complex issue, I offer two statements to get us thinking about what authenticity means for an SME, & why smaller businesses are at an advantage for putting it to work.

First, be yourself. The more glitzy something is, the less people trust it.
Second, make sure your behavior lines up with your stated convictions. 

Secondly, being small & lean has wonderful advantages. Smaller businesses often do not have the financial resources or the volunteer pool to run a broad schedule of products. Not to worry. Instead of running a multitude of generic products, a better use of resources & energy is to zero in on one or two items which focus on the unique needs of your market. A smaller business can benefit from learning to value depth over volume. They can channel their limited resources into a smaller number of products & potentially do these fewer things with greater depth & effectiveness.

Thirdly, people power. If a small business limits the number of products it provides, then the lion’s share of their market has a greater impact in its community when they equip & encourage their people to keep serving where they are already active.

Empowering & releasing people in the community requires you know your customers well enough to know what they are passionate about. In other words, this strategy plays to one inherent strength the people often knows his or her customers intimately & can more directly help discover how to turn their regular sales into opportunities.

Recognizing these qualities of the small business as strategic advantages may require rethinking success. None of them is guaranteed to grow a business numerically (nothing is, in fact), but fostering the authenticity which comes more naturally to your smaller operation will make your business a safe place for the regular customer. This can make you & our smaller business a more integral, visible part of the local community.

So, thankQ to the Marlborough Garden show last weekend for my inspiration this week. I witnessed how the energy, passion & clarity are all important for our successes. These efforts may not be as glamorous as corporate growth strategies. But they will equip us to participate in our growth ~ to watch how one can take a mustard seed & turn it into a very satisfying harvest, & I suspect a much more gratifying lifestyle. Well, it certainly has in my world.

Thank you for taking the time to be with me once again. I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson. With my best wishes for another week… I look forward to being with you all again soon.

Kenn Butler
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