Are you ready to make the leap into business and start your own company? If so, congratulations! That is one of the best decisions you can make for yourself. You are going to take control of your future and join the millions of others who are out there paving their own road.
I have personally launched several businesses in my life and have read more books than I can count on the topic of business and customers. Some businesses worked, other didn’t, and the failures have taught me more than the wins. So, I thought it would be helpful to give you a list of the top things to know when starting a business in Lake Norman (Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, and Mooresville, NC). Who doesn’t love a list that gets to the point? So enough of an intro, here are my recommendations:
- Get Connected - There are a number of really great groups around the Lake Norman area. Take a look at Lake Norman Small Business Network, attend their weekly networking events and get to know other entrepreneur and solopreneurs. They don't charge for membership and the leadership is great. You can consider the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce as well, however they do charge and the events are often light on people. Most of the networking there is through their after-hours events.
- Local-to-Local - One thing that makes Lake Norman special is that local businesses love to work with other local businesses! This is an incredible opportunity for you to get your name out there. People around here are loyal as well, and if you treat people right they will stick with you. One of our competitors in the virtual and executive office business has pictures on their website that shows large buildings outside their window, nothing like that exists in the area! These are stock photos and they are obviously not connected with the vibe that is North Charlotte. Be genuine and authentic to the area which you serve.
- Consistent Service - The Lake Norman area is surprising large and small all at once. Word will spread quickly if you treat people right or if you have bad service. For example, there have been several restaurants start and fail quickly because they didn't service the local client. Whatever you do should be tailored to people in this area. Also, make sure everything you do is client-focused and with a service mentality. The great part is that there are so many people in this area, you have a long runway to grow; you just have to be consistent.
- Keep Your Word - Anyone who has lived in north Mecklenburg County for long has a story about a bad contractor, horrible restaurant, bad retail store, or someone who tried to cash in on the local market. These bad actors get weeded out pretty quickly. So, if you are looking to be successful for the long term, make sure to do what you say when you say it. No one is going to expect you to promise a trip to Mars; just do the simple things correctly as you described.
- Attend Local Events - We have a lot of local events that draw huge crowds. Christmas in Davidson, Birkdale Village 4th of July, Big Day at the Lake, and more. Get to know the local market and these events. You will notice some things pretty quickly. First, family is huge in this area. There are kids, parents, and dogs everywhere. Your business and marketing should tailor to the family crowd.
- Be Easy to Work With - It should go without saying, but I still have to repeat this. Make sure you are easy to do business with. Make it easy for people to hire you and pay you! Too many companies try to over-complicate business and commerce. Offer your clients fast response times and flexible payment options. Make sure to accept credit cards (who doesn't love bonus miles!). If you currently don't accept credit cards, check out Square and get signed up. When it comes to scheduling, get clients on the schedule quickly. You have a lot of competition and delays will cost you some work.
- Differentiate Your Business - I want to know that you are unique and special. I want to know what you do simply by your name or your marketing. Don't make me guess. Nearly every morning I pass a truck on the way to work and the company name tells me exactly who the company is and what they do. If the name is nondescript or the marketing is full of inside jargon, you will struggle. You don't need a marketing firm or expensive materials, just tell your story. People will respond and you will flourish.
- Don't Be Greedy - Make sure you understand that this market is large and there is plenty of business for everyone. When I launched this company, someone from a competitor in the area called me up and started yelling at me for launching a business he thought was competitive to his. He started saying I wasn’tbeing respectful (ironic) and I was targeting his clients. All I was doing was marketing our new company and his clients happened to see it! This is the wrong approach. You can have two bars in Birkdale and both can survive. They actually compliment each other if done right. Never be greedy; just be competitive and make each other better. There is a real difference.
I hope this advice was helpful. I hope you are successful and I get a chance to use your services. I can’t wait to see what you do!