Small Business Academy

28 Jul

Q: What is the best way to start a business cluster?


I am a big fan of business clusters, especially for traditional brick-n-mortar small businesses. In fact I think that they are an essential part of small business success. So how do you get one started? Well, you have to ask yourself two questions. The answer to these two questions will determine what you do next. The first thing you have to do is take stock of your own business. Ask yourself what is it that you do and what can you offer another small business owner? The type of business you own and the product or service your offer usually will often be complimentary with another business. Let me give you and example of what I mean. Let’s say that you have a men’s clothing store. Your target clients tend to be young up and coming business executives. What you sell the most of in your store is medium priced suites in the $3-500.00 range, dress shirts, upper-end ties, and nice casual Friday office/golf ware. Chances are that you customer will also need a nice briefcase, Blackberry, comfortable dress shoes, a great place for a haircut, etc. These are all your potential business cluster partners.

The next step is to take the time to visit one of these businesses and develop a relationship with the owner. Now comes the time to think of how you and your business could benefit this new potential partner. You should always approach it from the standpoint of how you can benefit them and what you have to offer them. That means you will need to get to know the owner and their core clientele and this business products and services. That can be easily achieved as you get to know the owner simply by listening and asking genuinely interested questions. So let go back to our example. Let’s say that your potential partner is the one that sells fine briefcases. You could let you new business acquaintance know that you recently had a customer in that just received a promotion and was buy a new suit from you. You had noticed during the sale that he also could have used a new briefcase. This is the time when you could suggest that in the future you would like to send you clients to him for their briefcase needs and by the way, could you have a few business cards. You would like to have a few in the shop to give to clients and you would like to send one to the customer who just bought the new suit form you. Not only are you offering future business but potentially a new customer right now. If the relationship proves mutually beneficial you could suggest that you each approach additional businesses with the same philosophy.

Business clusters require a little effort, time, and thought. However with the right approach the benefits can substantial and long lasting. For more free business success tips, tools, and support go to Good luck!


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