Remaining loyal to local businesses

The company that my husband works for just participated in the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce small business of the year competition. 1600 nominations were whittled down to 110 applicants who took part in a showcase at Union Station two weeks kc-chamberago. From here, the top 10 businesses were announced, with the overall winner being named at a celebratory luncheon in Mid-May and then taking home the Mr. K. award.

This whole process has been a wonderful experience for everyone involved with Royal Services who are now hungry to go one step further next year.  Next year marks Royal’s 25th anniversary as well; what an achievement it would be to be recognized as one of this incredible city’s most respected small businesses in their anniversary year! The preparation has already begun, and I will provide updates on Royal’s progress over the next 12 months.

This celebration of small businesses throughout the Kansas City metro area really opened my eyes to the incredible individuals out there who have the entrepreneurial spirit, determination, and drive to overcome all obstacles in their way. Royal also started in humble surroundings. Back in 1993 Tom and Charlene Shyver founded Royal Services and ran the business out of their basement, moving on to share an office with a veterinarian, before relocating to their current location 13 years ago. This family-owned and operated business is one of only a handful of national facility maintenance and project management companies that remain privately held.

This week, I want to look at the many benefits of working with a small business.  The following list was taken from The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, who did a great job of explaining the benefits involved with shopping local!

1.  Local Character and Prosperity

In an increasingly homogenized world, communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character have an economic advantage.

2.  Community Well-Being

Locally owned businesses build strong communities by sustaining vibrant town centers, linking neighbors in a web of economic and social relationships, and contributing to local causes.

3. Local Decision-Making

Local ownership ensures that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.

4.  Keeping Dollars in the Local Economy

Compared to chain stores, locally owned businesses recycle a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community.

5.  Job and Wages

Locally owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do.

6.  Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship fuels America’s economic innovation and prosperity, and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.

7.  Public Benefits and Costs

Local stores in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores and strip shopping malls.

8.  Environmental Sustainability

Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers-which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.

9.  Competition

A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.

10.  Product Diversity

A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based, not on a national sales plan, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.

So there you have it, 10 great reasons for why you should support small businesses. If you need further convincing please check out this article from Forbes which goes into even more detail.

Why You Need to Support Small Businesses

Please take a moment to fill out the comment form below so that we can hear more about your business and what makes it special!


Setting and achieving goals

Our society’s focus on technology and innovation forces us to strive for “bigger and better” every day. Regardless of the industry you are in, it is important to be on the cutting edge in order to stay ahead of your competitors.

But when you are sitting in a meeting discussing how to be the best, does it ever feel like the goals being set are unreachable? Sure it would be great to be ranked number one in your field by the end of the year, but as a new company, is that really possible?  Setting goals that are impossible to reach wastes time and money, when your focus could be on something that will actually be accomplished.  There is no harm in striving to be the very best, but be sure that you are not spending time in an area where you will not succeed.  In order to do this, it is important to set SMART goals.  The SMART acronym was first published in a 1981 issue of  Management Review by George T. Doran.  While times have changed, these guidelines can still help individuals and companies alike tailor their goals to the kind that can be achieved, rather than the kind that get forgotten after many failures.

Specific – make sure the goal you are setting is targeting a specific area in need of improvement.

Measurable – you should be able to track the progress of your goal, beyond arbitrarily deciding whether it’s going well or not.  When you can decidedly track and assess progress, the excitement you feel toward reaching your goals is a great motivator to keep going.

Achievable – as mentioned above, you don’t want to set a goal that is out of your reach.  So much time will be wasted trying to accomplish something that will never get done.

Relevant – it is important the goals you set actually matter to you and will help you achieve other relevant goals.  There may be a promotion available at work for the head of marketing, but are you actually interested in marketing?  Would getting this promotion better your life, or would it simply be one more thing to add to your resume, just because?

Time-related – set a due date for your goal to avoid putting it off for another time.  If you decide you want to lose 10 lbs, that’s great!  It is specific, measurable, achievable and relevant.  But if you don’t set a date to accomplish this goal, you may spend years working on those 10 lbs, when realistically, you could have been enjoying a healthier, happier you after just 6 months.

Setting goals is important.  It keeps us going.  It gives us a reason for being.  But setting the wrong goals, or going about achieving them the wrong way, can be frustrating and demoralizing.  Make sure your goals are smart so you can continue being the best you possible, at work and at home.


Preparing your business for spring

Spring is finally here so it’s time to take a deep breath, say goodbye to the dreary winter months and start getting your business ready for some busy months.  In case you are wondering what you can do to prepare yourself, here are a few ideas to get you started!

  1. Check your exterior: If you experienced a particularly rough winter, chances are the outside of your building is a little worse for the wear.  Make sure it’s looking shiny and new for the spring season!  Add some bright flowers for a nice touch.
  2. Clean up a bit:  After spending the winter cooped up breathing in stale air, there is nothing better than throwing the windows open to let in fresh air and let the spring scents into your business.  If you choose to clean counters and vaccuum floors as well, that’s an added bonus!
  3. Hire new staff:  If your business tends to pick up big time in the spring and summer, it might be a good idea to find some extra help.  Advertise for a temporary position if you don’t think you’ll be able to use new employees year-round.
  4. Introduce a new product: Spring is when new flowers are budding, grass is growingbird-nest-eggs-blue-158734 and animals are born.  Considering the “new” theme of the season, why not introduce something new with your business?  Whether it’s a new idea for marketing or a new product, bring something fresh into the business for the spring.
  5. Storm preparation: Along with gorgeous weather, the spring can also bring about heavy storms.  Are you prepared for those situations?  What will you do if your power goes out?  Do you have everything backed up that needs to be?  What is your emergency plan in the case of a tornado?  Be sure you go over these items with your staff and make sure everyone is confident in handling scary situations.
  6. Rearrange: If you don’t feel the need for a major clean or something as drastic as a new product, why not just rearrange a little?  This can make things feel new, even if they aren’t.

Living in the present

Have you ever been at a family function and looked around and noticed every single person was on their phone?  How did that make you feel?  Did you laugh it off, or was it frustrating that your family is no longer conversing with one another outside texting and Facebook?family-on-phones  Or maybe you’ve been in a work meeting and it’s your turn to present, but when you look up from your notes you realize no one is even listening to you, as they are all glued to their tablets.  My husband used to be a bartender at a pub in England and he has fond memories of the camaraderie and community that was developed over conversations had at the bar, even among strangers.  Now when you see people at the bar, they aren’t even watching the plethora of games available, they are simply watching their phones.   It’s not realistic to hope for things to go back to how they used to be; as more technology is developed, the more people will use it in their everyday lives.  However, while you can’t demand that bar patrons put their phone away (although that is a good concept if you are looking to start a business!), there are things you can do in your own home and with family to ensure that the time you spend together is about quality and not just quantity.  Because after all, you are not interested in the time you get with people, but the energy you receive from them when you’re together.  Here are some tips to separate yourself and loved ones from common distractions:

1 – leave your phone at the door.  Whether you take this literally or figuratively, it’s a good idea to detach yourself from your phone at the end of the day.  You may choose to actually leave your phone in your car, or maybe simply put it away in a desk drawer for the evening.  You don’t have to turn it off, but if you do choose to leave it on, think about changing your ringtones.  I like to have a separate ringtone for family, so if I hear that I know that I should probably pick up.

2- set some ground rules.  If you have kids, I’m sure you have screen time and phone guidelines set.  However, are you following some rules yourself?  Sometimes, it’s nice to unwind by playing mindless games on the phone.  But that can eat up time very quickly, time that could be spent with family.   So you could try to limit your screen time to when the kids are sleeping.  Or maybe, delete the games from your phone to avoid the distraction.  Whatever works for you, as long as you are aware of the amount of time being spent in this direction.

3- phone basket.  If you are having family over for dinner, it’s a nice idea to ask everyone to put cell phonestheir phones in a basket upon arrival.  People will probably complain initially, but eventually everyone will be having such a great time actually speaking to one another, they will forget all about it!  This could also work for some office meetings, depending on the content.

4- no charging.  On the weekends, choose not to charge your phone.  This will force you to think about what you are using your phone for, and will probably start to curb the habit of randomly picking up your phone and checking the screen for no reason at all.

5- keep it in the backseat.  Obviously, in most places it is ILLEGAL to drive with your phone, not to mention how incredibly dangerous it is.  However, some people still do not get it.  If you are someone who finds yourself picking up your phone at every stoplight, and then continuing to use it when the light turns green, you may want to think about keeping the phone in the back seat.  Turn on your bluetooth if you have it so you can answer important calls, but everything else really can wait until you get there.  I’m begging you, for the sake of my children and yours, PLEASE stay off your phone when you’re driving.  Nothing is that important.  Check out this website for some scary stats if I haven’t convinced you.

At the end of the day, your family, friends and coworkers want your focus and energy far more than your presence alone.  If you can learn to separate yourself from distractions, you can give them what they need.  Take some time to look around and enjoy life and the people in it!