Why Start Your Business Locally

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Scenario: "Dude, we gotta market our services to the world. Blue Mercedes, here we come! Yay!" What do Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Starbucks, Wells Fargo, Wal-mart, and Oprah have in common? They all started locally.
  • Google and Yahoo started with Stanford.
  • Facebook started with Harvard.
  • Starbucks started with Seattle.
  • Wells Fargo started with San Francisco.
  • Wal-mart started with Bentonville.
  • Oprah started with Chicago.
Yet, you log onto most any Web 2.0 site, interact with any "growth-ambitious" company, or read the submissions of those seeking venture funding -- and what do you get?
  1. You get people trying to push their wares onto the world overnight.
  2. You get people trying to fight Goliath with a freakin' toothpick.
  3. You get people fighting a million wars with a million other me-too companies.
They're not going to win. What do you do then? Think local. Think customizing your solution to a distinct group of people within your area. You'll boost your chances of building a rockin' product that attracts the key to the masses: evangelists.

How Evangelists Attracts the Masses

Peep this:
  • You know why 50-year old suburbia dudes wear Air Jordans?
  • Or, why grandmothers use MySpace?
  • Or, why masculine men wear Gucci?
  • Or, why rich preppy kids sport hip-hop fashion?
  • Or, why Harley-Davidson riders watch Oprah?
It's the same reason why college kids in California use Facebook, a social networking website started 3000 miles away. It started with an enthusiastic core of customers (a.k.a. evangelists), who soon attracted others, who themselves attracted others, who [yadda, yadda, yadda]. Remember: the masses use/buy what other people use/buy. Evangelists then initiate those transactions. More often than not, you'll find those evangelists within your local area because you know them to a T.

What Produces Evangelists

Understand how people think: A tornado could wipe out the entire town across the world, and what would worry most people? Their flat tire. (Yes, it's a messed-up human phenomenon.) A device could be the most spectacular thing to the world, but Sandy would still prefer something more specifically suited to her lifestyle. If she finds it, she'll evangelize it. Check this scenario:
  1. Student Sandy uses Facebook big-time to track her college classmates.
  2. Opportunist Oscar builds a social networking called "Osky."
  3. Osky's catered specifically, perfectly, and crazily catered to Sandy's college. Among the local features include professor reviews, party notifications, dining grades, past exams, etc.
  4. Sandy gets invited to Osky.
  5. Sandy uses Osky as her primary social networking tool.
  6. Sandy becomes an evangelist.
Rule of thumb: The closer you can get to the following reaction: "That's product is talking to me! Me! Me!" The closer you'll get to generating an evangelist. That's why starting locally rocks: you can cater your stuff like a mofo.

How Starting Local Rocks

Starting local gives you a giant head start to capturing those evangelists. Why?
  • You know their wants.
  • You know their motivations.
  • You know their heroes.
  • You know their lifestyles.
Bottom line: You know more about that local group than any multi-billion dollar company, or the millions of other competitors, ever will. Any other company that decides to capture your evangelists better check itself before it wrecks itself. Word.

"So what do you mean by 'local?'"

"Local" doesn't need to be geographic. MySpace started with bands. Nike started with elite athletes. Rachael Ray started with busy women. We define "local" by a core group of people who share a similar lifestyle and values. Likely you'll find it geographically, but you know your potential evangelists better than we do.

Don't be loco. Do local. Fo shizzle.

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Posted on December 06

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