It's about community

I like this post from Tom Peters blog. Its about the election and community spirit. It's not about a particular party or candidate, but rather a call to arms for more community involvement. One thing we have learned during this election cycle is the power of the internet to connect like minded people. Whether you candidate wins or looses the results are clear, TV is the big looser and the internet the big winner. TV addresses the masses, while the internet addresses the the many different "tribes" that exist. Combine enough of theses different tribes with like minded goals and your candidate wins! The same is true with our businesses. Find and connect your "tribe" and they will help build your business. It goes both ways of course. You have to give your tribe something to believe in, and it may be more than just building your business. How are you truly benefiting your community?  You might say that just being in the nursery business, and providing plants that make our world a better place is enough. It's not enough!

We need to make our garden centers a center of community activity. I, like a lot of you don't like to mix politics and business together.  We provide a place for everyone who wants to garden. Community activity does not have to be about one party or another. Rather it's about providing a space for community activity, like our picnic area. It might be about trying to get two new stop signs put in at Marshall and Black Oak Mine Road. People drive too fast there and have crashed into our fence before. Sure it will keep people from ruining our fence, but it will also prevent accidents, and maybe save a life.

I hear from all sorts of business people who lament the current state of affairs. Customers that ask questions and then head to Home Depot to buy supplies. Customers that open packages, use products, then return them. The complaining that I hear from business owners about the community indicates a disconnect. How can we complain about our customers going elsewhere? What have we done to connect with them? What have we done to make ourselves indispensable in their lives?  How can we connect so they will tell their friend about us? I love it when someone forwards our e-news to a friend. People will tend to listen to a friend, and we couldn't ask for a better advertisement for our business.

This is one of the reasons why Monica and I are opening our daycare and preschool. One reason is an attempt to have steady income flow year round, taking the pressure off the garden center in the winter. Another reason is the community has indicated another preschool is needed. We have been hearing from all sorts of people who are quite excited about this new venture. How did they find out what we're up to? Word of mouth! They are excited and so are we. I may even start calling the garden center "the nursery behind the nursery".

Once we have opened "Miss Monica's" Daycare nursery we will become even more of a center of community activity. Young families counting on our child care services to give them the opportunity to work where and when they want. People looking to us for their gardening and outside living needs. People using our picnic area for events. What we can do for the community, while still making a profit is exciting for us. We are business people, looking to make a profit. We are also community members working to make a difference in our community.

I think the future for the small independent garden center is quite bright! Use the power of the internet to help connect the people who also want to make a difference in your community.  It's time to speak up, and let people know what it is that you would like to accomplish.  We need  to be about more than just selling plants! Start building your community today.