Here are some words of wisdom from area business owners.
Starting a new business in a small town is a leap of faith, but a leap backed with lots of research, planning and amazing community support!
Some of the best advice we received was to be open to change and growth. The business model that you start with will change monthly and year to year. Personal life experiences and previous jobs are assets, but don’t rely solely on them. Draw on the expertise of other successful business owners. Find people who are willing to share and mentor you!
A warm and welcoming atmosphere in your business is vital to success. It really isn’t just about making a sale, it is also about leaving an impression. If the experience in your business is pleasant and fun, then the word will spread.
Reaching out to the larger community with advertising and social media is equally important. Out-of-town customers help to spread the word of your town as well. Above all, have fun and learn something new every day!
—Paulette Kelsey Dissell and Melinda Nelson, owners of Zinnias, an antique and collectibles shop in Britton, S.D.
ervice is always key to growing a strong business, and know that how you serve those customers may change over time. When we purchased South Dakota Baskets Unlimited 20 years ago we moved it in with our other established business, which helped bring in customers. At this time the brick and mortar was the way to build a business. As time went on we knew that we had to change our ways and expand into the Internet to keep up with the trends.
Five years ago we were able to move our business to our home, which cut our basic expenses. Now we depend on the Internet for most of our orders. This means keeping up with the trends and joining social media and keeping in touch with our customers. This is a new phase in growing our business and a learning experience for me. Communication and providing the very best service that you can give is the key to growing any business.
—Jan and Lorren Weber, owners of South Dakota Baskets Unlimited, a custom gift business specializing in South Dakota-made products, in Mina, S.D.
uilding relationships with consumers, families, and potential consumers is key in sustaining a successful business in the Ellendale area. Communicating with the community on the services that we provide, changes that are taking place, and areas we are working to improve establishes a trusting and open relationship with people who are living here, their families, and future potential consumers. Treating our employees with respect and justice results in less employee turnover. Demonstrating hospitality and stewardship to those who walk in our doors and making an investment in the Ellendale community as a whole brings success to our business while allowing us to give back in a meaningful way.
—Kyla Kinzer, of Prince of Peace Care Center and Evergreen Place, providing skilled services and assisted living in Ellendale, N.D.
t takes a lot of long hours and dedication along with loyal customers. In a small town with limited work force, finding good help is a challenge at times, but we also have a good work ethic, being a small farming community.
—Peggy Gilbert, owner of Fireside Restaurant and Lounge, specializing in home cooking in Ellendale, N.D.
e have enjoyed being business owners in our small community. But when it comes to business, we don’t think small. We like to think that if we can keep things fresh and new it keeps interest. Jim is the “green thumb” around here. He loves his plants and believes very much in the product that he grows and provides for people. I must say he does do a great job! To be successful, we believe in treating our customers as family. Laughter is often heard around here as we don’t take ourselves too seriously, but our business is serious business.
—Brenda (and Jim) Johnston, owners of Harvest Gardens, a greenhouse and new snack shop in Ellendale, N.D.
ur success comes from several areas: having customers who support us, are loyal, and show us that they appreciate doing business with us; having knowledgable employees that dedicate themselves to the business and the customers; offering quality materials that we can stand behind; being involved and giving back to the communities we are a part of; shopping at home as best we can—supporting our fellow community businesses; keeping up-to-date with new products, fresh ideas and a well-kept store. We also keep in mind that we can’t offer everything and still be competitive and stay in business. We have to find what we do well and focus on those aspects. As owners, we also know we need to be involved and “put in the hours” to have a successful business—and that never stops!
—Garry and Monica Mertz, owners of Mertz Lumber & Supply, and lumber and building products supplier in Ellendale and Oakes, N.D.