A few months ago, I wrote about a wonderful but struggling local business that was having difficulty making ends meet. It had already closed down the small café in the back of the store and was considering closing their doors altogether due to cash flow difficulties.
In that article, I placed some of the blame for Blumsters’ struggles on its promotional activities. My wife and I had been near the business many times but were completely unaware of what the business was about. In fact, I believed that it was a floral shop, not the wonderful little novelty shop and café that it actually was.
Since then, Blumsters has had a stunning recovery. The business was sold to enthusiastic new ownership that turned over a good deal of their inventory in order to get the business back on solid footing. The café has reopened and, on the times I’ve visited it, it has been doing good business.
How -- or better yet, why -- did this recovery happen? How did Blumsters make it when so many other small businesses on a downward spiral fail?
I see three big ingredients in this recovery -- and they’re key ingredients in the success of any small business.
1. Someone believed in the business.
Obviously, the original owners believed in the business, but they were missing other ingredients that would lead to success. As their business began to fail, they began to cut services but still fought to keep the doors open because they believed in it. The new owners took over the business because they believed in it and knew it could succeed.
2. Someone was willing to take a new approach.
After the new owners took over, a large portion of the store’s inventory was turned over quite rapidly. Some was retained by the original owners in an effort to reduce the cost of buying the business. Other items were simply liquidated in various ways in order to get the entire business back on track and on a firm foundation.
This liquidation occurred because the new owners were willing to do things a bit differently than the previous owners. The previous owners were unwilling to change their inventory because selling those items had served the business well for years. The new owners knew that the charm of Blumsters wasn’t in the specific items for sale but, at least in part, in the aesthetics and appeal and charm of the shop itself.
3. Someone was willing to take on risk.
It’s so easy when you have a business that has run successfully for a long time to be deeply afraid of taking risks and changing those things that have always served you well. A successful small business, though, always looks at their assumptions and looks for ways to improve things.
There was substantial risk in buying a business that was struggling. There was even more risk in getting rid of most of the inventory. On top of that, add the risk of re-opening a closed restaurant and you have pretty a hefty pile of risk here, something that the previous owners were unwilling to take on.
Will this pan out for the new owners? All I can say is that I’m writing this in the café at Blumsters and I see plenty of customers in here.
Believe in your business, but be willing to take new approaches and also take on risks on occasion. While I see some delicious soups on the menu here, I also see those three ingredients on display everywhere I go.
Photo courtesy of Sancho McCann