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Part 5. Be Open

This is the final entry in a 5 part series: Big Picture Ideas for Small Businesses.

Transparency Is Important

Transparency Is Important

My previous post was on buzzwords, those groan-inducing terms that often do little more than spread hype without actually describing substance. The argument I tried to make was that buzzwords were, in some limited cases and when taken with extreme grains of salt, could actually be utilized as thermometers for how to craft a marketing message.

However, I know that doesn’t make them any less annoying. The irony of ending this series with a post on “openness” is not lost on me because as far as technology goes the concept is almost as cliché as the term “multimedia” was in the 90′s.

With that being said, being open truly is an incredible asset to any organization, and while it may not make sense in the literal concept for every business out there, it’s principles are universal and should be installed where possible.

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Coming Soon: 5 Big Picture Ideas for Small Businesses

Mike Arrington and Jason Calicanis at TechCrunch50

Mike Arrington and Jason Calicanis at TechCrunch50

It seems kind of obvious right?

Any business, particularly small ones, should offer products and services that solve a problem and that can be realistically deployed. Provided you do so for a reasonable price, you’ll make money and grow your business that way.

A few days ago, RedBeacon.com, a startup based out of San Meteo, was declared the winner of this year’s TechCrunch50. Their product is a really interesting idea; it’s essentially a mashup of Yelp’s local business search and OpenTable-style business participation.

Users type in the service they are looking for and what price they’d like to pay, ‘plumber’ for instance, then they’ll see a series of local plumbers who bid to provide the service to you so you get the best price. For those of us that loathe the phone book and calling for quotes in the Yellowpages, this is a really refreshing way to do things and it fits in neatly with what any successful small business does day to day.

  • RedBeacon solves a ubiquitous, genuine problem – getting competitive quotes from local contractors
  • It has a low cost of entry for the consumer (in this case, Free)
  • It has an innovative, low pressure quote mechanism for the service provider

Feedback is immediate and easily understood, if you aren’t chosen to provide the service, then you need to take a second look at your pricing or your reputation. That kind of immediate information is incredibly valuable.

On the web, this isn’t as cut and dry. Your competition isn’t necessarily nearby, and you’re competing for revenue against thousands of other small businesses many of which have no qualms with making disingenuous claims to make the sale.

So how do you set yourself apart from the masses?

Over the next few days, I’ll be posting a 5 part series called Big Picture Ideas for Small Businesses. These are largely abstract concepts that successful companies have implemented that can help guide the decisions you make. I say it all the time, people should work ON their business more than they work IN their business, these posts will be a way to hopefully start a larger conversation around the mechanisms behind a successful business.

The first post, titled “Obsess About Your Reputation“, will go live today.

As always, feedback is appreciated! Become a fan of ServInt on Facebook, follow us on Twitter/Friendfeed, and tell us how you feel in the comments!

Photo via the official TechCrunch50 Flickr pool.

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