What happens when you pair passionate small business owners with our intrepid, retail-savvy leader Lynne Robertson?
Spoiler: A funny thing happens when you give back. Those who give gain something just as valuable as those who get. Often, it’s unexpected insights, or exposure to a new category. But as you’ll gather from the video below, this partnership felt more personal.
We had one of those only-rolls-around-once kind of opportunities to join Deluxe as the retail experts for five seasons of Small Business Revolution, hosted by branding expert Amanda Brinkman with Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec, builder Ty Pennington of Trading Spaces and Extreme Makeover fame, and our very own Lynne Robertson serving as the Fame face, Chief Client Hugger/official retail guru in multiple episodes.
There are 33.2 million small businesses in the U.S.* and we wrapped each season with a greater appreciation for the depth of conviction, commitment and extraordinary personal sacrifice it takes to keep a small business in a small town in play. Truly, no small feat. They’re risky, these ventures. The odds favor failure. But for the founders and owners, the whole experience is so wonderfully worth it. The sense of purpose and accomplishment. Pride of ownership. That connection with neighbors — knowing names and faces and favorite items. And all those “We did it!” moments when things are going according to plan.
Our approach and recommendations varied for each business. Some needed direction on floor plans, product assortment and merchandising, while others had primo street-front window space they weren’t maximizing. From seasonal promo calendars and signing to store footprints and foot traffic flow, our guidance was overwhelmingly well-received. We’re talkin’ the kind of hugs-and-tears reception that’s not — well, de rigueur in a traditional agency/client meetings with the usual more formal professional protocol and all.
We so appreciated the open-armed welcome to our ideas. Advice on big changes can be hard to hear, when it’s a passion project so near and dear. The owners of these small shops often feel attached to having things a certain way, even when it doesn’t make the most business sense. In an effort to be everything to everyone (or at least please all their “regulars”), business owners tend to cram waaaayyy too much into space that’s too small, making things hard to find and the overall feel cramped and cluttered. Because they live and breathe the business, it’s hard for them to see their stores with “first-timer” eyes, evaluating the scenario from a viable, sustainable business perspective. But the founders we worked with fully embraced the input, implemented everything they could afford to do — and couldn’t wait to share the changes with their local customers.
So that was our role—– and it would have been just as rewarding even without the hugs and happy-tears moments (OK, maybe not — that part was kinda nice). We felt our contribution would make a significant difference for these struggling businesses, while personally benefiting the owners, their families, their customers and communities. Small businesses make up 99.9%(!!)* of all businesses across the country, and we’re grateful to have had the chance to help even just a few.
*Forbes.com, Small Business Statistics of 2023