A Tale of Two Cities: One Small Business Owner Invests to Grow, One Doesn’t

[tweetmeme source=”helpmerhonda11″ only_single=false]I just finished working on a small business website project that has been a long time in the making.

The owner is extremely proud of the new site, and rightly so. It is a huge improvement, with a better site design, stronger branding, and inbound marketing features that will improve his business.

As we talk, he tells me that this is his third website in 5 years.  “You should have seen my first website!”, he laughs, and tells me how he designed his own logo when starting out, and how awful it was.

Another client — more than 10 times larger than the first — is on the fence about rebranding and changing a website that is completely outdated.  Cash flow is tight, and there are other business needs.  The decision is a hard one.

This starts me thinking about the mindset of entrepreneurs who find a way to invest the time and effort to do and redo, and see marketing as an investment:

Client #1 is open to a cycle of continuous improvement and testing.  The new site just launched, and rather than consider this project “mission accomplished”, we have already started making a list of things that need to be tweaked and tested.

(Client #2 is thinking of putting website changes off until Spring (or starting now with a very scaled back version).

Client #1 is on board aggressively with Adwords, is investing in an ongoing SEO program, just bought and installed a CRM, upgraded his billing system, and is starting a social media program.

(Client # 2 never heard of search marketing (paid or organic), and fell off his chair when he heard the price tag. Ditto investing in social media…and, his lovely bookkeeper of 37 years is still sending bills out by mail).

The first client’s business is up 25% vs Year Ago.

(The other one’s business is down quite a bit.  Sure they are in different industries, but I think there are other factors at work).

At the end of the day,  moving the needle has less to do less with the alternatives I present and everything to do with an INVESTMENT MINDSET. Client #2 can grow…but the willingness to invest in and try new things has to be there.

Is this willingness to invest in “continuous improvement” a characteristic of only the most progressive clients? Is it age-related (there is a 20+ year old age difference here as well)?  What do you think…what makes one entrepreneur determined to do and redo, in order to improve results and impact sales, even in today’s business climate?  Would you?

Here’s what I think: for your business to grow, a willingness to invest in marketing and changing online technology isn’t just an option, it is essential. With that mindset, you won’t remain a small business for long...please comment!

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About Rhonda Hurwitz

Rhonda Hurwitz is a content strategist and marketing consultant who helps mid-sized businesses develop more effective online strategies. @rhondahurwitz on Twitter, and on Forbes.com: http://blogs.forbes.com/people/rhondahurwitz/
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3 Responses to A Tale of Two Cities: One Small Business Owner Invests to Grow, One Doesn’t

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention A Tale of Two Cities: One Small Business Owner Invests to Grow, One Doesn’t | she means business -- Topsy.com

  2. Hi Rhonda ~

    You make an excellent point for contemporary change and I’m with you! However, not all business owners maintain the same priority; they may be battling with internal concerns that render them not ready for 21st century marketing – the owner you reference has possibly been bitten by the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ bug and is unable to wrap his mind around the context shifts you’re advocating. Or, his inability to shift into new forms of marketing could be hampered by what are long standing issues that have prevented his success throughout his business’ growth and he’s battling infrastructure failings everywhere. Or (and let’s hope this one’s the truth) he’s got a plan to enhance his online presence and ‘social networking, blogging, facebook, e-campaigns, affiliate marketing’ and such and they’re on his calendar for 2011!

    • Andrea, thanks for raising some possibilities that I hadn’t considered…

      I think you put it correctly when you call it a “context shift”. I am encouraging the transition in 2011 but for some reason the change seems overwhelming for this particular client…hard to know that when a client cites pocketbook concerns, what other internal or infrastructure concerns also underlie. Thanks for your comments.

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