Recently, while eating lunch at Big Mike’s with a friend who was contemplating opening a new business in Denham Springs I was asked, how I would suggest he do his research and promote the business once it’s started?”
My answer was simple, “In a big city, you make decisions based on numbers and neighborhoods. Here in Livingston Parish, you make decisions based on people.”
And then, I gave him my seven tips for starting a small business in Livingston Parish.
Note: These tips are based on personal experience and trial and error, not from anything I learned in a book.
Ready? Here we go!
Talk to others who’ve opened businesses recently.
Learn from others who’ve opened businesses in Livingston Parish in the past few years. Remember, the flood changed it all for many business owners, so keep that in mind as you ask around. Meet with small business owners and ask them questions like:
- What challenges have you faced?
- What works and what doesn’t?
- Were any businesses like yours successful?
- If so, did they have deep roots in Livingston Parish, or were they transplants from elsewhere?
If you can’t find anyone who’s opened a business lately, don’t get discouraged. Maybe there’s no market (for example selling snowmobiles in Satsuma). Perhaps, they’re just waiting for you to open.
Sometimes a new business can create demand.
Think about it. For years, Denham Springs didn’t have an indoor adventure park; now we have two!
Make an excellent first impression.
Here’s a bit of good news. Promoting your small business isn’t hard in a small town (or parish). Fifteen minutes after you’ve opened your doors, everyone will know. Actually, here in the LP, most people know about businesses before they open.
Consumers in the area realize the importance of shopping local.
However, some towns may resist doing business with transplants (unless you surpass the 2 decade point). Some will welcome new businesses with open arms. Regardless, your first impression will last a very long time. You’ll have trouble recovering from a local leader with a bad experience if you are a lifelong business owner or a newly formed local business.
Research the area’s market and memory
Are you considering buying an existing business? Take the time to learn about the owner’s reputation. If you find that residents are ready for a management change, you’ll want to consider a new name and branding.
But, if someone is just selling their business to move away or are retiring, and everyone loves them, then you’ve got a fantastic opportunity.
Learn the Parish’s rules and regulations
Livingston Parish is different from Ascension Parish. East Baton Rouge Parish is different from The Felicianas. What I’m saying is that each area and municipality has different rules, regulations, and laws that a business owner must adhere to.
If you’ll do your research and learn which apply to your business, you’ll save yourself a lot of headache, red-tape, and delays in getting open (and staying open). Again, ask other business owners or use any of the business resources I mentioned in my article on local business success strategies.
Be prepared to do a lot of work yourself.
You may have difficulty finding good help in a small town or parish, especially if you’re in a specific niche. That’s not to say that we don’t have the best employee potential around right here in Livingston Parish. But, your business and niche will dictate how easily you’ll find employees, so you may have to do most of the work yourself – at least at first.
Learn your community
Livingston Parish encompasses 703 square miles. That’s a lot of area! Each community has its own culture and personality. The culture in Maurepas is different from that of Watson.
Research your market and learn your customer base and their needs.
If you can earn the trust of “more seasoned” local businesses and business people in your community, your business will gain traction quickly. I won’t go into names here, but you’ll hear specific names more often than others when you do your research. If you can succeed at getting them to support your company and vision, you’ll do well here in the LP, I promise.
One of the most successful ways I find to build relationships is by networking, and giving back to the community. I also choose to spend my advertising dollars by supporting Local causes as much as possible such as running ad’s in the Denham Springs High School Football Program, sponsoring a Local 5K, among other things. It puts my business out there not only to the general public but also other business owners in my community.
That’s where Local Leaders: The Podcast comes into play.
One of the benefits of appearing on or sponsoring our podcast is that your business name gets in front of other small business owners just like you.
And all of them aren’t only here in Livingston Parish. AR Workshop was recently on our show, and while they are currently based in Baton Rouge, their expansion plans include possibly expanding into Livingston Parish and coming on the show introduced them to an entirely new audience.
Contact me today to learn more about how you can boost your Livingston Parish business in the local community.
About the Author:
Jim Chapman is the creator and host of Local Leaders: The Podcast.
Through his podcast he promotes small business owners through interviews covering all aspects of their business.
He resides in Denham Springs, LA with his wife and 3 children.
Jim can be contacted via his various social media or through email at Jjim@localleadersthepodcast.com