Small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy and have been so for nearly 300 years. Our entrepreneurial spirit moves many to consider starting a business of their own at one time or another. In fact, more U.S. entrepreneurs than ever will open a business this year, according to a report from the Kauffman Foundation, a national entrepreneurship nonprofit. Even though the allure of being your own boss is strong, one must remember that launching a new business is exceedingly risky. According to Bloomberg Business, eight out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. That means that a whopping 80 percent of businesses crash and burn!
Even though managing a small business can be an intricate minefield, entrepreneurs and small businesses have demonstrated that strategic, niche brands can still be successful competing against their larger business counterparts through uniqueness and adaptability. Several practices can be implemented to ensure brand differentiation and survival for the long haul. Frisco is home to countless small businesses that have weathered the storms of hard financial times. Others have recently opened their doors, proving to be real competitors in the marketplace! What sets these profitable, smaller companies apart from the masses? How is marketing a small business different that marketing a larger business?
Have Passion and Dedication
Passion is one of the most effective motivators when launching a business. Indeed, it is also one of the strongest predictors of success. Many entrepreneurs articulate a clear and powerful purpose for starting their businesses — and none of them mention money as a major driver. Rather, they started their companies to do what they love, solve a problem, provide awesome service and/or give back to their community.
Dude Perfect is one such company. It simply portrays a group of young men following their passion and purpose, while creating a strong brand around their small business. Known as a sports entertainment group of five young men, born out of a desire to “one-up” each other, in basketball, football or golf trick shots, Dude Perfect originally recorded their antics for YouTube, and their popularity exploded, quickly turning them into Internet megastars. Today, Dude Perfect has more than 16 million fans on Facebook, nearly nine million subscribers on YouTube, more than two million video Instagram followers and more than one billion views of their videos.
Jeff Toney, Dude Perfect’s business manager, explains, “We are just a group of guys following our passion of loving to compete with each other, and we have let the world in on what we do. Those of us that grew up in the U.S. tend to have a little bit of a competitive drive, and we believe watching the guys try their hand at unorthodox sports is compelling to watch. There seems to be a void in the world of good, clean fun today within the entertainment industry, and at the end of the day, many want to get away from the negativity and tragedy in the world and just relax and hang out. That is where Dude Perfect comes in play.”
The passion and dedication of Dude Perfect has parlayed the group into a branding machine, complete with record video viewings on YouTube, appearances with numerous public figures, endorsements with NERF® and Ruffles®, product placement deals with Gatorade and other top-line companies, and even their own iPhone game.
Mr. Toney says, “At Dude Perfect, our content demonstrates our passion. Years ago, we all used to go outside and invent new games in the backyard, but the only difference was we did not have a camera rolling. What makes Dude Perfect work is that it is organic and natural, and in the beginning, the guys regularly did this kind of thing, throughout college, to blow off steam. Nothing about Dude Perfect is manufactured or scripted. It is as real as it gets.”
A new television show about the guys is scheduled to debut on April 14 on Country Music Television (CMT), combining comedy and live-action stunts, as well as following the behind-the-scenes lives of the digital stars. Audiences can expect to see “the dudes” dream up their next viral video, work with celebrity guests, prep their performances and create hilarity inside their new headquarters, located right here in downtown Frisco.
“Frisco is our home, and we love everything about it. Because Frisco has become the hub of all things sports in the North Texas area, with FC Dallas, the Dallas Cowboys and so many others, it is a natural fit for us to locate our headquarters here. A lot of people are congregating in Frisco, and the people here are young, innovative, aggressive and fun, all of which are very similar to our brand. You will see on the new show many well-known Frisco landmarks in episodes, and, overall, it is the right place for us to plant our home base,” continues Mr. Toney. “We are very passionate about what we do, and we think it shows in our digital content as well as the television show and when we meet individuals on the street. If you are passionate about what you do, are good at it and are dedicated to your craft, you will find a fan base. We are just thankful that this passion of ours has evolved into an amazing business for us.”
Be Agile, Nimble and Quick
Unlike large corporations or big businesses, small companies are often able to refine and reshape their business models swiftly, responding to fast-moving markets. As a recent Harvard Business Review article noted, “A dominant market position and first-order production and delivery capabilities are no longer the only factors that guarantee a sustainable competitive advantage. Those that thrive are quick to read and act on signals of change. They have worked out how to experiment rapidly, frequently and economically — not only with products and services, but with business models, processes and strategies.” Yes, big businesses will have the advantage of size and scale, but they cannot respond promptly to market trends because of internal red tape and bureaucracy.
Urban Intimates’ CEO Psychelia Terry understands all too well the need to be innovative and adaptive when responding to the market. Originally beginning as a quest to provide beautiful lingerie that fit curvy girls, she left corporate America to pursue her dream of owning her own company. After starting her company in 2009, Ms. Terry’s journey embarked on many twists and turns along the way, as she experienced several setbacks throughout the process. Each hiccup allowed Ms. Terry and her husband and partner to evolve and regroup, adapting to a new standard and taking advantage of every opportunity.
“Being in a corporate environment for so many years, I was able to consider how I wanted to leave my mark in this world, and today, being a smaller company allows us to be nimble and flexible to meet market demand. We take the ‘but’ out of everything we do, and because of our size, we are able to move faster to market than the larger retailers. We do not have thousands of employees. Instead, we have a tightknit group that loves what we do, as well as each other. We have a passion for seeing change in the market space for all girls, and at Urban Intimates, we are very hopeful for the future.”
Now available on their website, at Macy’s stores, through JCPenney’s website and at select Walmart stores, Urban Intimates has established their headquarters in Frisco and intends to open their flagship retail store and showroom later in 2016.
Ms. Terry continues, “Throughout our journey, we had numerous options and offers to locate our headquarters in the fashion district of New York City, but we found the business arena in Frisco to be just as advantageous. As a mother of three children, I absolutely love the family-friendly environment that Frisco provides, and the school districts are second-to-none. While family is the highest priority for me, my business is important too, and Fortune 100, 200 and 500 companies are just around the corner throughout Frisco. Additionally, the caliber of employees we discover in Frisco is absolutely excellent. My staff is the ultimate in professionalism and quality, and, truly, we have the best in the industry. You will not find this mixture of advantages anywhere else. We are thrilled to be in Frisco.”
Thus, Urban Intimates has found its market niche and is maximizing the sales opportunities where its business size and ability allows it to quickly prove to be a market strength.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
To compete as a small business, one must almost always utilize some form of digital technology to succeed. It may seem obvious, but in this day and age, with limited resources and a list a mile long of “to-dos,” digital technology and social media play an enormous role in helping to promote a company, and these tools should be integrated into the DNA of any small business and marketing in the front end of the process — not supplemented as an add-on component expected to save your business at the last moment.
Casey Gaffney, the owner and designer for Gaffney Design Studio, inventively combined the power of celebrity status and social media marketing to promote his popular “Texas Antlers” T-shirts, creating an overnight sensation for his unique line of items. After originally searching for a combined Texas and hunting themed shirt for himself and finding none, he designed his own distinctive version and cleverly began sending free samples of it to well-known country music stars such as Wade Bowen, Roger Creager and Aaron Watson, and their managers. To his pleasure, the stars began wearing them on stage and displaying them via their own social media outlets. They wore the shirts so much so that Mr. Gaffney’s sales skyrocketed, and he quickly sold out of the first batch of printing. He notes, “Social media, via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as search engine optimization have been critical to the success of my business. More often than not, these venues are free, and I can do what I want, when I want to use this media along with some good, old-fashioned hustle and strong word of mouth to make a difference. These are the keys to making a mark in this space.”
Mr. Toney adds, “Leveraging technology to your audience is a critical and important tool that any business has available to them, and figuring out how to use those is an equalizing advantage to building a brand.”
With hopes to eventually open a small storefront in Frisco and expand the brand to include lifestyle and handmade goods, Mr. Gaffney is pretty happy about his progress so far. “It feels really good to see my designs being worn and liked by others. Life is good.”
Frisco seems to be the place to be if you are interested in turning your entrepreneurial dreams into a reality. Sometimes, being small has its advantages, and, sometimes, Frisco provides the perfect economic atmosphere to grow and create a thriving business. Since small businesses often do not have as many obstacles or corporate processes to follow, success can happen at a much quicker (and occasionally larger) rate!