Should Entrepreneurs Reach Out To Their Customers For Help?

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, May 01, 2008 at 04:00 AM with 3 comments

There’s that store over on the corner. It is one of your favorite stores or you just go there once in a while. But the next time you go by, it’s closed. Not just closed for the day, but closed for good. You feel bad as you liked going in there, but you may not have gone in there that often. You think to yourself if you only knew that they were near that point you could have done something – blogged on them, told your friends or simply went in there more.

For me there were 2 such places, an awesome Vietnamese/fusion restaurant and a coffee shop. Now a jeweler and a check-cashing store stand in each respectively. But what if each owner reached out to its customer base for help, would I have responded? I asked myself as I read about Toscanini’s, an ice cream shop I have visited in Cambridge, MA in a recent issue of Inc. magazine. In this case, getting behind on paying their taxes resulted in the store closing, and after an Internet appeal they were able to raise enough money to reopen.

As I said before, you can’t mess with the numbers. However, they did and paid the price for it, literally. Had they reached out earlier to their customers, how would they have reacted? How would I have reacted?

It’s times and events like this I appreciate the business networking connections I have made. As astute of a businessperson you are, it is easy to get caught up in the minutiae of your business and sometimes not see things with clear vision. This is when it helps for others to step in and offer advice, sometimes merely describing the situation as they see it. For Toscanini’s, they could have had an ice cream festival or some other event to bring in people and have a spike in sales, which could have helped their bottom line. With their stores being literally feet from the MIT and Harvard campuses, who knows what ideas could have been presented had they asked?

Your business may be yours, but it is also part of your community. Keep this in mind in good times and in bad. Where it takes a village to raise a child, those same villagers are integral to your business.

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