Why A Small Shop Is Better Than a Chain Store

A couple of weeks ago, I visited a small, independently owned pharmacy. I know that’s quickly becoming a rarity, but I’m glad I did. I’ve been to the chain store pharmacies, and I have to tell you that I often leave feeling like less of a person than a dollar sign. In other words, my experience with the large chain pharmacies and other types of retail stores are that they’re usually impersonal and there’s room for improvement for the level of customer service.

What’s Better Small Shops?

When I go to the large pharmacies that are associated with a nation-wide store, there’s usually one–maybe two–people working in the pharmacy. So, inevitably, I’m waiting on a line to drop off my prescription. Once I get to the counter, no matter what the medicine, I’m told that I have to return in at least an hour, at which point something that should take a few minutes (and used to), becomes a multi-hour exercise. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’ve picked up a prescription, the medicine is for someone who is not feeling well and the sooner they get the medication, the quicker they will feel better. I don’t think that big pharmacies understand how vital quick-turnaround is to people.

When you return to one of the large pharmacies to pick up your prescription, you’re back online waiting to get to the single person who’s working the counter. And, even if you’ve arrived past the hour, you may be asked to wait some more, so hopefully, there will be a seat available for you.

However, when you go to an independent pharmacy, the experience is different and better. When I picked up my prescription recently, I waited FIVE minutes. About five or six professionals were working in the pharmacy, who were personable and made it a point to get to know me as a person and not a dollar bill. The person who waited on me also asked me if I preferred to have my prescription delivered, which is not typically a service available at the large stores in my area.

The Best Reasons to Patronize Small Business Owners

My experience with the pharmacy is but one example of why I prefer to patronize and do business with small shops and you should as well. One of the best reasons to go to mom and pop shops is because they provide people jobs. As I mentioned earlier, the larger chains don’t care if you wait in line for twenty minutes or more because their priority is not you, but their bottom line. However, because small stores understand that they have to differentiate themselves, they hire workers to provide excellent customer service. The Small Business Administration has reported that small businesses add more net jobs than do large companies.

There are other reasons to do business with small stores and shops.

Small businesses are not bureaucratic. Typically, if you’re doing business with an entrepreneur who owns a small shop, you’re dealing with the decision-maker. The larger the company, the higher the chances that your experience will be done to benefit the corporation–and not you, which includes bureaucracy. In other words, good luck finding a manager to speak to you if there’s a problem. But, with a small business, if you need special assistance or are not satisfied with a product or service, you’ll be able to speak with the decision-maker who can quickly make sure you’re happy.
Keeping it in the community. When you do business with a small store, more of the money you pay for products or services remain in your community. For instance, a study done for Chicago found that for every $100 spent at a small business in that city, $68 remained whereas when customers patronized chain stores, only $43 stayed in the community. Larger companies have to pay immense amounts of overhead, which means more of the revenue made is going to the corporate office.
Looking for Broader and Unique Products. If you want to purchase more products that are not the usual, if you patronize a small business, the chances are higher you will get to see a broader array of product offerings. As an example, before record players and records came back in style, small shops were selling them. These businesses were even selling record players when everyone was predicting the death of the vinyl record. It was after some time that the big box stores got in on the act and realized that people wanted to listen to recordings.
Personalized customer service. As was mentioned earlier, when you do business with a small shop, you’re a person and not a number. That means that when you keep going back to the store, the more you build a relationship with the people who work at the shop, the higher the chances are that you’re going to get service that is personalized to you. For instance, let’s say you take the time to chat with the pharmacist who takes the time to get to know you. If he or she knows who you are and your medical needs, don’t get surprised when someday that pharmacist makes a recommendation for a better medicine you should address with your physician. In other words, you’re doing business with real people who want to get to know you and service your specific needs.

Next time you’re thinking about going into one of the national chains, take a few minutes to stop into one of the smaller shops in your neighborhood. I bet you’ll discover better service, more diverse products and you’ll be making a positive contribution to a small business owner who’s hiring more people than the large chain store.

Inclusion Is Your Path to Impact

I attended an event a few weeks ago that was chock-full of inclusion. Not in that reflexive, annoying, politically correct way. In that ‘honoring everyone and celebrating what diversity offers’ way. In every detail, effort was made for this intention to be realized.

What did it serve to do? It made us more mindful. It encouraged us to unabashedly recognize, speak about, and celebrate differences. It connected us. It sparked creativity in ways to do and see things.

Wouldn’t you love to have more mindfulness and clarity, more innovation and connection in your organization?

Of course, putting this into action in an organization is considerably more complicated than in a 4-day event. Still, I was moved by the effort and by the dramatic effect. It highlighted what is possible.

Freeing ourselves up from trying to pretend difference isn’t there, or wishing it wasn’t, takes us away from the impact we could have.

Impact, as I define it, is where your amazing self (or organization) meets the world and helps to make it a better place for all of us. Anything that takes you away from your amazing self detracts from the impact you could have.

Prejudice. Unconscious bias. Unearthing them and finding a more inclusive way is also the work of impact.

In your organization, you can open the door to an inclusive culture, or open it wider through:

Awareness of how you see the world, and how you react (your lens)
Recognizing and facing your overt prejudices and unconscious biases, so you can avoid the small and subtle aggressions that prevent people from working well together
Being curious and willing to learn from diverse people, at home and globally, without feeling superior or inferior
Talking about difference, having respect for what makes each person unique
Being bold enough to tap into the diverse ideas around you
Rising to meet resistance and obstacles by remaining resilient and committed to your impact.

Moving fast in an entrepreneurial environment, or in any environment these days, doesn’t preclude doing these things. In fact, an inclusive culture supports rapid growth, both as a person, as a leader, and as a company. I invite you to welcome diversity in a more deliberate way.

None of us has impact alone. The more ease in the process and the more support we can garner, the better it is for everyone.

Ursula Jorch is a speaker, business coach and consultant who helps entrepreneurs grow a successful business that makes a difference in the world. A 21-year successful entrepreneur herself, Ursula helps you define the difference you want to make in the world and develop strategy and marketing so you have ever-expanding impact.

How To Close Your Business

We often talk about in business starting or creating a company, but there’s another side to that coin. It’s not something entrepreneurs often think about, but many times there comes the point where you want to close your business. Perhaps you had a revenue amount that you wanted to achieve before you cashed out and started on another project of interest, or maybe you’ve been doing it for years, and it’s time to get the business off your hands since no one in your family is interested in taking it over.

Whatever the reason for closing your business, there are a few things you have to make sure you keep in mind as you proceed in unwinding the company.

Co-Owners: If you have any partnership and you’re looking to move out of the day to day, it goes without saying that you have to speak to any co-owners. Use the articles of organization and make sure you create a written agreement that will dissolve the company or sell it to your co-owners or someone else who will assume your part of the business.
Accounts Receivables: If you’re a sole proprietor, and you’re looking to close your business, make sure your accounts receivable are all paid and up-to-date before you inform anyone that you will be closing the company. Once you have all your payments, you can then notify your clients that you will be closing the business.
Notifications: Once you’ve gotten all of the revenue sorted, you need to close your accounts with any creditors. You’ll also want to complete dissolution papers and file those with the state where your company is located. If you have a rented office or business location, this is also the period where you will notify your office landlord and anyone else with whom your business is associated.
Protect Your Tradename: When you’re in the process of making notifications, you still want to protect your brand name and image. Cancel any licenses, permits or registrations that are in the name of your business.
Team Members: One of the toughest things to do, especially if you have an excellent team of people working with you, is to inform them that they will be losing their jobs. The best thing to do is to give as much notice as possible so people can prepare. If possible, offer severance packages, and make sure that you comply with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act depending on the size of your business.
Financial & Regulatory Obligations: If you have an inventory of any kind or assets, you’ll want to liquidate everything. You’ll also want to make sure that you are compliant with the state and federal tax authorities. Don’t forget to cancel your Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS. For additional information about closing a business with the IRS, you can find that information here.