Grassroots Movements Can Lead to Greener Pastures
Small businesses are used to being overshadowed by big business. But that doesn’t mean they can’t thrive in their own right. In fact, like ferns in a shaded valley, small businesses can succeed beyond all expectations when they pull together for a common cause.
Here’s how some are using grassroots efforts to further their goals, and some tips for spearheading your own grassroots effort:
Case 1: Fairer Leasing Practices
Many small businesses face the prospect of rising rents when their lease comes up for renewal. Those that compete with big box and chain stores are often confronted with sky-high increases that make it impossible to run a competitive, much less profitable business.
In large urban areas, like New York City and San Francisco, however, small businesses are lobbying for new legislation that lets them negotiate fairer rents. In fact, for the first time in 30 years, New York City businesses have reached a majority of City Council supporters and are on their way seeing this legislation become reality.
Case 2: Small Business Saturday
Few small businesses have the marketing clout to dominate Black Friday or Cyber Monday. But that hasn’t stopped them from making inroads in the profits of mega-retailers who seem to rule Thanksgiving weekend and beyond.
True, Small Business Saturday is the brainchild of American Express, however, without the support of neighborhood businesses and small-town retailers, the phenomenon that started in 2010 may have quickly fizzled out. Instead, by amping up and coordinating efforts at the grassroots level, they’ve turned the Saturday after Thanksgiving into an annual sales event of epic proportions.
Small businesses have done so by leveraging marketing expertise provided by American Express with their own ingenuity to create irresistible shopping experiences. These include small business block parties, local media events and more.
Developing Your Own Grassroots Effort
While the task of winning over a city council or creating a small business retail phenomenon may seem daunting, it becomes easier when you break it down into manageable steps.
Step 1: Choose One Goal and Stick With It
Grassroots movements fail when goals are overly ambitious or unfocused. Choose one goal that you’re passionate about and be prepared to fight for it over the long term.
Step 2: Mobilize Your Supporters
Network with like-minded business owners, customers – even your competitors who can rally around the cause and use their own connections to further it. Get to know local officials and chamber members who can help. Social media is a simple way to do this.
Step 3: Celebrate Progress to Sustain Momentum
If you win the support of a well-known advocate or reach a milestone that furthers your cause, celebrate the success with your grassroots team, and use it as a springboard for further wins.
Step 4: Keep Your Eye on Your Business
Spearheading a grassroots effort requires considerable time and dedication. If you find it’s interfering with the daily operation of your business, consider delegating some work or enlisting others in your grassroots cause.
Step 5: Keep Wins in Perspective
Once your grassroots movement succeeds, take time to savor the moment. If you’ve challenged a lobby and won, be gracious and understand that you may be working with or against it in the future. And above all, keep your bridges and connections intact should you need them down the road.
A grassroots effort can capture the energy and will of some extremely passionate supporters. Guided correctly, they can propel you and your business to greater levels of success.