Small Business Resources
scroll down for the small business cheat sheet!
1) Looking for a space? Contact us!
2) Major niches: insurance, tax, mobile technology, salons, cafes / bakeries, Mexican restaurants, small boutiques, produce markets
3) Opportunities: wellness industry, full-scale gym, young adult sports, manufacturing, fine dining restaurants, makerspace, co-working, incubator / accelerator, and MANY MORE!
4) City of Framingham sources:
5) Massachusetts Guidance
6) Support - Training, Counseling, Loans
- SMOC Financial Services (mircroloans to empower small businesses)
- Community Bank Micro Loans - contact us
6) People-Ready Amenities
Contributed by DFI Intern Naftaly Hiraldo, marketing student at Framingham State University
Downtown Framingham is growing and gaining increased attention. Construction has already started on a new mixed-use development, and more projects will soon break ground. How will your small business remain relevant and profitable throughout these changing dynamics in our new city’s landscape?
Downtown Framingham Inc. (DFI) is here to help guide your businesses towards greater success, and we’ve commenced our personable Individual Business Consultations and formed the Downtown Framingham Business Coalition Facebook Group. Change is constant (and sometimes unwelcomed), but your small business can succeed rather than suffer.
So, in accordance with our mission to create “the most vibrant, socially engaged, and innovative area outside of Boston”, we’re providing a cheat sheet to help our downtown businesses take their first steps toward finding their niche and then capitalizing upon it.
Define Who You Are and What Your Business Does
First and foremost, you must figure out who you are as a business and what it is your business does. This goes beyond just stating the name of your business and the type of services you offer. Just as big corporations build their brands, small businesses must establish an identity for themselves. Find three words that summarize your business in the simplest terms. Each of these words should define how consumers experience your business emotionally, descriptively and functionally. In other words, it should answer the following questions:
• how does my business make people feel?
• what type of industry is my business in?
• what purpose does my business serve?
Define What Makes Your Business Different
This next step is especially important, especially when you're surrounded by similar businesses.
Make a list of the characteristics that your business shares with your competition and a separate list of the characteristics that differentiate you from your competition. Each of these characteristics should be concrete in the sense that they should say something about your business regarding its history, its physical appearance, products/services offered, suppliers, the method of distribution.
Ask yourself, what are you doing that no one else is doing?
Define 3 to 5 specific characteristics that are special and unique only to your business, then will you be able to move on to the next step.
Research and Engage
It is important that once you have your characteristics, you need to confirm them with your customers. As a business owner, you only see one side of the story. While you may think that the message or ambiance you are trying to convey is viewed a certain way, it may be perceived through a different lens. Therefore, it is important to consistently gather feedback from your customers. Your customers can give you a better understanding of where your business stands in the eyes of the public, along with what needs to be done to get your business where you want it to be. It is important to NEVER disregard customer feedback.
What methods do you use to gather feedback from your customers? What works well and provides the most useful insights?
Own Up to Your Differences and Capitalize Upon Them
After you finalize your characteristics, use them to heavily promote your business. Are you the only restaurant in the neighborhood that uses organic ingredients? Do you have the fastest waiting time when it comes to serving vehicles? Utilize these characteristics to your advantage to help create experiences for your customers. This is the stage where you really push to connect with your consumers. Your customers are more likely to remember the experiences they had than the items or services that they purchased. Ensure that their experiences are a good one.
However, these steps are only the beginning. To really build a name for yourself and your business you must continue working and keeping pace with the newest business trends. For more information on how to build your business visit the DFI website, downtownframinghaminc.com/smallbusinessresources.