Ideas are everywhere, if you’re paying attention. And believe it or not, some of the most terrific ideas lie no further than the doorsteps of your local business owners!
As you walk in and out of your neighborhood stores during the course of your routine day, make it a practice to strike up conversations with the owners.
Usually, they start the conversation for you anyway. How often has a store owner asked you while she was ringing up your sale, “How’s your day been so far?” And how often have you simply answered, “Fine,” then dropped the conversation entirely?
Why not turn her question back onto her? Return her question with, “Great. How’s business been treating you? I’ve been hearing that this economic downturn is hurting a lot of businesses around town.”
Don’t act like a snoop. Just act interested. You’ll be surprised by how many business owners will open their hearts to you and confess honestly the challenges they face.
Can you help them deal with those challenges? Maybe that’s your next business opportunity!
Follow this simple pattern:
- If you see the owner while you’re shopping, smile. Engage them, if it seems natural to do so.
- If the owner begins talking with you, push the conversation along by complimenting their business, their merchandise, or their staff.
- At some point in the conversation, ask a sincere question about their business.
- If they seem open about their business problems, show interest and follow up with more questions. But don’t immediately offer your services — if you feel you have any to offer them — until a later visit.
- If you feel it’s appropriate, invite them to lunch or coffee sometime in the next few days.