Tuesday, May 31, 2005

There's hope for small.

When you're running a small company, your enthusiasm can occasionally run a little low. The stretching of resources, the difficulties of pitching bigger business — sometimes one starts to wonder if it's just unrealistic to take on larger competitors.

Whenever that happens here, we head over to a local place called Water Street Coffee Joint for inspiration. There are now two locations in Kalamazoo and both are thriving. Granted, Starbucks still hasn't opened up down the street. But, quite honestly, I don't think they could beat this place.

What's so brilliant about it? For starters, they have incredibly dedicated, customer-focused employees. But another important lesson is that the place is always changing. The downtown location is tiny, but the owner still finds ways to tweak the actual building. A new screen door, a permanent awning — small changes that people actually discuss. And the product mix is never static either. They have their core products, but they are constantly adding new things — teas, new food, a different roast.

The lesson is an old one and it's actually important for businesses both large and small. Don't ever think you have a winning formula.

Keep tweaking. Or die.


Anonymous Davis said...

Do they have a delivery service to the lab yet?

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Gerah said...

So true.

The print shop where I work has just had to re-invent itself to stay afloat... Not that the doors are going to shut immediately if nothing is done now, rather, the re-invention is a critical change that must happen now or our future as a "printer" may be doomed.

Rather than strictly being a print provider, the trend is to take a more consultive approach to selling, and those printers that change now might make it. Those that don't will probably go under.

The company owner who is constantly re-evaluating his services and offerings will be the one to thrive in the years to come. The owner who thinks they know it all and don't need to ever change will probably have to face some troubled times ahead.

6:11 PM  
Blogger sammo said...

Since reading about Black Lab Five's origin awhile back I began religiously reading this blog. That led to viewing their clever sophisticated content on their web site. As a result, I've always looked at Black Lab Five as a beacon on the hill of creativity. (especially in s.w. Michigan). Imagine my shock when Dean mentions "sometimes one starts to wonder if it's just unrealistic to take on larger competitors."

AGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!! If BL5 with all it's talent and successes struggles to fit in, what does that say for smaller less talented ad agency/marketing companies who want to reach that next level.

I like benchmarking BL5's body of work. So I hope you and your crew are drinking that inspirational coffee by the gallons. Sounds like the potential clients you're pitching to could use some as well.

7:59 AM  
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