Normally attending a craft fair, even if it is to only walk through as a courtesy to the organization running it, is worse for me than a visit to (gasp!) a mall.
Add the hustle of the Holidays and hundreds of sugar amped children screaming for Santa (fueled undoubtedly by the 4 tables of chocolate baked goods for sale) and I’d frankly rather drive ingots into my eyes.
But a couple of weeks back, I spent 45 minutes walking through one and it hit me hard.
These folks are Small Business Naked.
There’s no hiding in a storeroom or behind a “Closed” sign or even behind some HTML code for these craft table entrepreneurs. These folks have no choice but to lay out their wares right there in front of you, with no where to hide and are totally exposed.
These folks sit or stand inches away from their hand crafted “life long passions” or their “work that pays the bills” or in many cases as you could plainly see – they stand in front of what they feel is the very definition of themselves.
These naked small business owners have to have tremendous egos and confidence and pride like any small business owner we know but also have the unavoidable stress of being assessed and judged by hundreds or even thousands of people in a compressed period of time.
“Do you like me?” is what each business owner is asking you with his or her eyes as folks walk by. Meanwhile there is no wondering about the competitive landscape. Each naked small business owner needs to only look left or right to see who and what they are up against, fighting for those dollars in the strolling public’s wallets. No where else is the competition so “out there in plain sight”- with dozens of smiling yet competitive and competing small business owners inches from and across from, each other.
On so many levels, it’s clear that these folks who purchase a “craft table” face so many of the same hurdles the traditional small business does ranging from product market analysis to production, to inventory management, to marketing, to pricing strategy, to selling skills and the list goes on.
Except for one thing – They are out there exposed for 5 or 6 hours at a time, hiding nothing about who they are and what they do. That’s an awesome thing. I know now I’ll see these fairs a bit differently; perhaps as an opportunity for me to keep learning from some of the gutsiest group of small business owners out there.
Till next time,
Grow The Business.