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I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t been a very good business neighbor.  Since setting up the office in Mattawan, Michigan, I hadn’t made it to most of my fellow small business owners’ shops and restaurants.  I decided to change that this past Small Business Saturday.  Mattawan has tons to offer, stores that I didn’t even know had opened and shame on me.  While yes, everyone ups their game in honor of Small Business Saturday, one thing was undoubtedly clear, I felt welcomed.  Welcomed in a way that most corporate/chain establishments can’t do.

Let’s face it, it’s hard to shop local.  We want to.  I think most of us … really want to.  Especially those of us who are entrepreneurs ourselves.  Yet, it was a just a week ago that I was raving about the wonder and joy that Amazon is.  How on earth did I manage to live before it?  We all move at the speed of light and finding a compelling reason to not jump on the Amazon app is the secret sauce that all business owners are looking for.

So, what is it?  What will take me back to my neighbor shops.  And, I am going back.  It’s how I felt.  It’s the experience that was created for me.

I think about this with homes.  I have gone to homes where it’s brand new construction and new furnishings and it’s lovely, but it hasn’t had time to develop character and a feeling.  Then, I can go into homes that are old, or where a family has lived for years, and it just feels.  I’m comfortable there, no-one will cringe if I drop a piece of food or laugh so hard some wine splashes out of my cup.  They will wave a hand and grab the bottle for a refill before tossing me a rag.  The theme of my home is cozy.  I decorate for cozy, especially in winter.  What’s my favorite compliment?  You guessed it, “Your home is so cozy.”  Yay, the feeling translated.

This is what small business success is all about.  I have a client who worked her tail off all summer and early fall to create an experience.  She has an entertainment venue and imagine her excitement when a local news crew came in to play laser tag for fun but happened to take some cell phone videos.  They discussed the experience unexpectedly during the noon broadcast describing their experiences almost to the letter the way my client had designed the experience to be.  Talk about gratification.  It was a wow moment!

And those wow moments are happening.  Not just for brick and mortar businesses either.  I think about everything a client might need before they enter my office or join me on a call or video session.  The special sauce is how do we make them feel, what can we offer to ensure repeat business.  Most often, it’s as simple as a nice conversation with the owner.  You would be surprised how often I find this not happening.  It can make all the difference.  “I like that place, the owner valued me.”  Service based professionals can focus on connecting to create feelings of comfort for clients.  If you need help creating an experience, please give me a call, it’s my favorite thing to help with.  You’ve got the best ideas for businesses and I always feel it’s an honor to help translate your passions, visions, and experiences to paying, happy customers.

And to the rest of you, go be those happy customers.  Slow down and smell the lavender if you happen to be in Mattawan.  It’s worth it, just for the experience…