Setting yourself apart in small business

Setting yourself apart in small business

By John Forshee, District
River Valley Extension District

Printed in The Belleville Telescope

I had the opportunity to sit in on a webinar by the well-known small business guru, Jon Schallert from Longmont, Colorado. Over the span of 45 minutes, Jon shared a variety of ideas on what successful small business owners do differently, or do better than those who fail.

Now, Jon has figured out how to make a living helping others succeed in small business, but I don’t think I give away any trade secrets if I share and expand on a
couple of his ideas. I hope the following thoughts get you all thinking.

Create your own marketplace rather than trying to carve out a niche from the existing marketplace. 

Isn’t this great? Think about it, in a large city a small business is one of thousands, so you must create your market by trying to figure out how you capture your share of the masses. In our rural areas, we have just the opposite. We may have a terrific idea or product, but we must think about how to attract enough customers from a distance to sustain our business. We must figure out how we charm those distance customers either to our store, or to our online environment. Jon suggested, we need to attract those customers that are over three hours away by being a destination.


Research shows that non-locals spend significantly more per transaction than local customers. Simply put, if we make a drive to purchase something, we purchase enough to make it worth our while.

We must also identify what we are good at and/ or what sets us apart from anyone else.

Here is my best example. My wife and I can buy cooking and baking spices at the local grocery store at very, very reasonable prices. However, when we visit our kids in Nashville, one of our favorite stops is a little spice shop in Franklin.


They have managed to create an experience we love and will never forget. Customers are allowed to wander around the store and smell every spice imaginable in the bulk containers. Once you have landed upon your favorites, you carry the bulk jars to the counter in the middle of the store where your spices are measured and packaged. While filling my order of Applewood Smoked Seasalt (yes, it is wonderful), the clerk picks up on the fact that I liked the smoked flavor and suggests I might try the Smoked Paprika. You guessed it, I bought the Smoked Paprika and it is to die for. And, just to be sure I don’t run out before I get to Nashville again, I buy the large instead of the small jar.The clerks and/or owners are always sure to express their gratitude for your business and encourage you to stop again. You get the picture. This shop created an experience for us, not just a purchase of spices. We must learn to do that in all of our businesses!

Many of our local communities have taken advantage of sending groups to Jon Schallert’s BootCamps, and if you get the opportunity to take in continuing education, like this as a small business owner, then please take time to do it. Mom & Pop shop owners often feel so tied down they never get away to learn anything new. Take care of yourself, and take time to recharge, re energize, and learn something new! Your business depends on it.

Jon Schallert is speaking August 8th at the Blair Theatre in Belleville from 8:00 – 9:30 am presenting “The New Rural of Business Success”. 

Admission is FREE four Republic County residents/businesses and $5 for out-of-county. Check out the Facebook event here –