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Small-business Savvy: Small-business Success Builds on Story and Product

Glenn Muske, NDSU Extension rural and agribusiness enterprise development specialist (NDSU photo) Glenn Muske, NDSU Extension rural and agribusiness enterprise development specialist (NDSU photo)
Business success depends on continuous marketing.

By Glenn Muske, Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

People starting a business obviously want it to be successful.

Achieving success, though, is much easier said than done. When starting, one of the first tasks facing the business owner is letting people know you exist. Your story can be one good element to use in this phase.

Stories are engaging. People can relate to stories. Stories help develop the “who” part of your reputation and your brand. When networking, stories can open doors and are easy ways to begin a conversation.

So developing your story is an important step on the road to success.

Yet storytelling is only one part of developing a successful business. It gets the customers in your door for the first time or two, but successful businesses require more.

Typically, the “more" is developing a base of customers who return over and over. Rarely has a business succeeded when selling to a customer just one time. Research finds that returning customers are the ones who generate the greatest return for the business.

What makes customers return? They return when you provide good products and services. Remember that in the customers’ perception, “good” includes price and your customer service, as well as the product doing what it should.

This does not mean you can drop your marketing program. Consumers have short memories in terms of where they will go to spend their money. You need to remind them constantly that you are in business. Even customers who have been with you for decades will move on if you fail to continue marketing to them. The marketing method may change, but it does need to continue.

Achieving success is hard for small businesses. It requires a solid customer base. Telling your story can get people in the door, and offering a good product can keep them coming back. Doing these two things will not guarantee your business survives and thrives, but it certainly gets you on the right path. Without these, developing a sustainable business is nearly impossible.

For more help, visit our website,, and sign up for the monthly newsletter. More information is available at your local Extension office, as well as at and

The Small Business Administration and its related organizations, such as the Small Business Development Centers and Service Corps of Retired Executives, along with many other state agencies, also can be valuable resources.

NDSU Agriculture Communication - Aug. 20, 2015

Source:Glenn Muske, (701) 328-9718,
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391,
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