Small businesses are very dynamic enterprises. Things can change in literally seconds: You can get a call from a huge prospect saying you got the business, an out-of-the-blue mention on a popular blog boosts sales and awareness, or the local paper runs a profile on your business. Pay attention to the lessons from the following wow-moments that changed the destiny of these nine business owners.
David Beats Goliath
Andrew Loos, co-founder and managing partner of Attack! Marketing, got a call that his company had beat five other huge agencies to win a national consumer products account. "My entire entrepreneurial spirit was suddenly renewed with the proof that creativity, heart and vision can trump any competitor in the business,” he says. For Loos, this was affirmation that he was headed in the right direction.
Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to compete with large competitors. You just might win!
Touched By A Celebrity
Marc Renson, the owner of Ambition Coffee & Eatery in Schenectady, New York, received an email from a producer who wanted him to feed Bradley Cooper a paleo diet for seven weeks while he filmed the movie The Place Beyond the Pines near his eating establishment. When word spread, news crews and even TMZ reporters started to swarm his place. In fact, Renson says, “Getting that email and feeding Bradley changed my life, increased my business still today and Bradley endorsed my book, Is The Coffee Fresh?"
Takeaway: Look for ways to build your company brand by attaching it to well-known celebrities using your products.
Meet Me In Mexico Next Tuesday
Ryan Barr owns a small leather goods company called Whipping Post. He was struggling with money and could not afford to hire people to make his product. Barr had no credit to get manufacturers interested. Most of his cold emails were ignored except from one person in the industry. Barr says that after a long email exchange, they said, "If you're serious about starting this business, buy a plane ticket and meet me in Mexico next Tuesday." This vendor had a manufacturing facility there and agreed to take him on as a client with no minimums. This year, Barr says his company is on track to surpass $500,000 in sales.
Takeaway: Don't be afraid to cold call. It only takes one successful connection to make it profitable.
On The Shelf At Macy’s
Darlene Tenes owns CasaQ, a company that designs Christmas ornaments. She went to a Latina Style Business Series luncheon where the keynote speaker was from Macy's. When the luncheon was over, she rushed over to meet the woman to give a 30-second elevator pitch on her products. Tenes says the woman was intrigued and gave her a card. Back at the office, she sent a sample box of products with a handwritten note. A week later, Tenes followed up with an email and, to her surprise, the Macy’s contact replied, "OMG, we love them!" Ten months later, CasaQ’s ornaments were on the store shelves at Macy’s.
Takeaway: Don’t underestimate the power of pitching yourself and, even more importantly, of following up.
Good Deeds Are Rewarded
Dr. Marlene Caroselli had written a letter of recommendation for a secretarial team seeking an award. “A judge on the panel read my letter and contacted me to ask if I would like to take over her training business, as she was retiring," she says. "That business resulted in a contract that lasted over a decade.”
Takeaway: Good deeds can be rewarded with new business.
15 Seconds of Fame
Ian Aronovich, cofounder and CEO of GovernmentAuctions.org, got a call from a producer from CNBC's Power Lunch to appear on the show. “The media storm that followed," he says, "changed the trajectory of our business and our standing in the industry.”
Takeaway: Well-positioned PR still works. Go out and get some.
Bad News, New Opportunity
Carol Hoenig had just bought her first house as a newly divorced woman when she got an email from her boss to schedule a time to talk by phone. She got the news that she was fired. Hoenig says, “My heart sank, but I decided that very day to start my own publishing consulting business since I knew both sides of it. That was in 2005 and I am still doing great!”
Takeaway: Keep your eye out for opportunities disguised as bad news.
Taking On The Big Guys
Lance Kezner brought his marinated garlic condiment to the Fancy Food Show. It was chosen out of 3,000 others to be the outstanding new product of the year at the show. As a result, he saw a drastic increase in business and was featured on the cover of Specialty Food Magazine.
Takeaway: Go to trade shows, enter contests and promote your wins. It's an easy way to get noticed.
Comedian Dan Nainan got an email from an Asian group that wanted him to perform at an event at a Chinese restaurant. Once there, he met a number of U.S. Senators and Representatives, word spread, and before he knew it, he was performing for President Obama.
Takeaway: Do an outstanding job and the word of mouth can take your business far. You never know who might recommend your business.
Have you ever got an call or an email that changed your business life? Share with us in the comments below.
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