By Christina R. Metcalf
Starting a new business can be challenging, but it can be even more difficult if you are new to the community. In some areas being the “new business (or business owner) on the block” is a designation that doesn’t last long (in large cities with transient populations, for instance), the smaller, tighter-knit communities can feel like it takes forever to become part of the “in-crowd.”
As we reopen after COVID, many people are reevaluating where they live. Communities that didn’t have the jobs to support newcomers en masse are now seeing an influx of people who want to live where they vacation, or they want to get away from it all. Because of this, fitting in might start getting a whole lot easier.
But until it does, here are a few tips that can make you successful in your new community quickly.
How to Ensure You and Your Business Fit In
These days there’s a lot of talk about accepting everyone for who they are. But when most of the people in your new area have spent their lives together, starting a new business in these places can feel like you’re the new kid at the lunch table in middle school. It’s not that they aren’t welcoming and friendly, they just don’t know you like they know everyone else. It takes time. And no one has time for that. Here are a few tips to help you speed up the process.
Host an Event
People are interested in getting out these days. Host an open house or a class. Demonstrate your products or services. Invite people to attend for free to get to know you. If your business is virtual, find somewhere you can host in person. You want people to get to know you and that’s much easier when no one has to worry about buffering.
In the future, there may be a revenue stream for classes or other events for your business. Start building your email list with this event.
Check Out the Farmer’s Market
If your business is a good fit for a farmer’s market, craft bazaar, or artisan fair, ask around to find out if that exists in your community. If not, you might be able to work with an organization with a large parking lot to help bring one to your community.
These types of events bring browsers out. You may or may not make large sales but what you will have the opportunity to do is make conversation with attendees. Come out from behind your booth. Give away samples. Talk to everyone and give something away so they have your contact information in the future.
Join your Facebook Group
Do a quick search in Facebook. Find out if your area has a Facebook group. Many have multiple ones. Get to know the administrators of the group and ask when (or if) businesses are allowed to post.
Post when you are allowed to but make sure you also take the time to “share the sunshine.” Answer questions people are asking. Provide reviews of businesses you’ve patronized and loved. Become part of the community. The more people see you, the more often they will think about you.
Even if you are in a tiny town, there are sponsorship opportunities for you. From Little League to the PTA, band boosters to pet rehoming events, get out there and support the community. People notice. Stay in front of them. Be visible. Give back.
If you don’t have the funds to sponsor right now, volunteer some of your time and wear a branded t-shirt for your business.
Join the Chamber
Joining the chamber is always a solid move because unlike other membership organizations, the chamber is business focused. Members will naturally take an interest in the new business in town.
Even if you’re virtual, chambers can help introduce you to your neighbors, community leaders, and a network of people you might not meet as quickly from behind your computer screen.
If you’re new to town, it’s only a matter of time before people realize how wonderful you and your business are. However, most of us don’t have time to spend waiting on people to realize these things. You need the revenue now so get out there. Introduce yourself and give back to your new hometown. People will take notice and they’ll be happy to have you.
Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so.