Interview: Talking to the Small Business Fairy about How to Succeed
Recently, a post by Mike Dougherty of Network Solutions alerted me to the existence of the Small Business Fairy. Actually, he said she doesn’t exist, but we tracked her down and interviewed her about her job and how she helps small businesses be successful.
How did you become the Small Business Fairy?
Well, like most little fairies, I really wanted to be the Tooth Fairy: she gets all the press. I didn’t get that because—I’m not going to say her name, it’s against the rules, actually—”she” slept her way to the top. I have principals, so I had to look elsewhere. I was offered opportunities to be the Nuclear Non-proliferation Fairy and the Small Business Fairy. The people you meet in small business are, for the most part, just “nicer,” so I went with small business.
What are your primary duties?
I thought it was mostly ceremonial, but it turns out it’s a hell of a lot of work. I’m supposed to review all these business situation reports (BSRs) and decide who to bless with good fortune. When I was new at the job, I used to read each one carefully and weigh all the factors, like who’s working hard, and who really deserves success, and what are the local multipliers… blah, blah, blah. That took way too much time, so now I just send the BSRs down to the dart room.
The dart room?
Yeah. The elves down there (they’re not the brightest, between you and me), they tack BSRs on the wall 10 at a time, and then one of them, with a blindfold on, throws a dart at them. The one that he hits gets set aside for my signature. Then they put up another 10.
You’re kidding me! That’s how you decide which small businesses are successful?
If you can think of a better way, the suggestion box is right over there…well it used to be over there. It was getting full and suggestions were all over the floor under the box, so I had it taken to the incinerator. It’s much neater in that corner now. I should put a plant there.
So, does that mean being successful in small business is just pure luck? There’s no way to succeed just by “deserving” to succeed?
Are you from a really small town, or what? Of course being deserving has nothing to do with it! And it never did, from way before I took over this job.
But you can tap a small business owner with your wand and make him or her successful, right?
Sure! I do that all the time…well, at least once a month. It’s really fun. But businesses can be successful whether I do that or not. I’m not omnipit…omnipot…all powerful, you know.
Well that’s good news! How can small businesses be successful without your help?
It’s pretty boring stuff: managing cash flow, hiring good people and treating them well, offering good value in products and services, smart marketing, blah, blah, blah. That stuff is a lot of work. Most small business owners prefer to just set up shop and wait for me to whack ‘em on the head with my wand.
I’m interested in what you’ve observed in marketing that works for small businesses.
Social media is the big thing that works for most of the small businesses that get involved in it. Blogging, tweeting, getting fans on FaceBook, that kind of thing.
Why do you think those things work for small business?
Well, first, they’re free or low cost, so there’s not a lot of money being spent to reach their customers (especially when you compare it to broadcast or print media). And second, their customers spend a lot more time online than they used to. When they’re online for entertainment, a lot of them are on FaceBook or YouTube or some other site. When they’re online doing research for an upcoming purchase, or just looking around for stuff they’re interested in, they’re likely to find blogs that contain some good information, because Google loves blogs.
Do you have a blog or a FaceBook account?
Well, no. You know, I’m so busy blessing people. Plus I don’t know how to get started.
I could help you.
Really? Would it cost me anything?
I don’t know. Any chance you could whack me with your wand?
I’ll give that some serious thought.