Opinion: Local businesses stayin’ alive

Surviving in business can be hard.  Failure rates of new businesses often hover around 80% in the first five years. After years like 2009, that rate may seem low.

Although we have some big business in Seal Beach, most of our local businesses are the “Mom & Pop” size and have been around for years.

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Do you wonder how some continue to make it in our town? I did, and here is what I found out from five successful businesses:

• Brita’s Old Town Gardens, 225 Main Streeet— Brita shared with me, “We are thankful for the support of the local residents in our business. They really keep us going and share with us what they want.  It is not just Old Town, but we draw from Rossmoor, Long Beach, Los Alamitos and even further like Palos Verdes. Without them, we couldn’t continue to stay in business as a unique provider of plants, garden and yard pieces.” So remember to stay engaged with the community and listen to what they want. Winning concept – customers.

• Main Street Cyclery, 317 Main Street—Dave Dunton said, “Keep your business simple and the focus on what works. After being on Main Street in two different locations and in business for 12 years, I realized you don’t change a winning game. We just keep providing knowledge and service to our customers and that works. Families have bought multiple bikes as they grow and change.” Winning concept – simplicity.

• Crema Café, 322 Main Street—Tarit Tanjasiri, who has seen growth even this year in his business, credits his product and people. “It’s all about the food. If you make something so delicious that people say, ‘Wow, that’s amazing!’ not only will they be back, they will bring friends. The same is true of our staff. By always looking to anticipate what our customer’s need, they are delighted by our service and want to experience it again.”

It seems simple too, but how you present your product, whether or not it is food, makes a great deal of difference. Winning concept—quality.

• State Farm Insurance, 1066 Bolsa Avenue—Eric Lenahan feels that his success is based on a strong connection to the community. “For me, it is about engagement. As an agency, we are present at many events and functions, from the Classic Car Show and Summer Concert series to PONY Baseball. Residents, our customers, see that we are part of the community and that we as an agency give back. They know we are here and that we care. That makes a difference when they are making a buying decision for insurance. They know we are here to stay and we put our energy back into our own backyard.” Winning concept—community engagement.

•    Beach Fitness, 148 Central Suites E&F –Bryce Turner feels, “This year we expanded our business. It was a risk, but one we were ready to take to position ourselves for 2010 and to innovate. You can’t stay static in the fitness business, you have to always be looking for new ways of helping people.

You have to change it up to keep your clients engaged and challenged.” Winning concept—innovation.

As David Rockafeller said, “Success in business requires training and discipline and hard work. But if you’re not frightened by these things, the opportunities are just as great today as they ever were.”

If you use the points above to consider success in your own business and stay focused on community, the possibilities in 2010 look bright.  As always, please remember to shop local as our winning concept and keep your sales tax dollars in our town!

Seth Eaker is the current President of the Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce and is the founder of Black Marble Consulting, LLC., a business consulting and marketing firm.