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Carroll Business Path: Support local business every day

Nov. 29 was Small Business Saturday. Around the county and across the country, customers were encouraged to do their holiday shopping at their local, often Main Street, small business retailers. While the one day certainly helps local small retailers get a boost on sales for the holidays, locally shopping year-round makes for a more healthy and vibrant business community.

How can we as a community of business owners, customers and future business owners support this notion of supporting our local small businesses year round?

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For the small business owner

•Highlight in your advertising and marketing materials that you are a local company, committed to serving the county or municipality in which you are located.

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•Compare and contrast the savings a customer or client gets when purchasing from your outfit, rather than a larger national/international business.

•Instead of fighting today's customers' inclination to go on the Internet to shop, have a website that attracts your clientele and allows them to shop or obtain information when they don't want to visit your brick-and-mortar location.

•When you create your company website, adopt the "Amazon approach," making the shopping experience, including navigation of the site, shipping and returns, easy and enjoyable.

For the customer

•Take the time to visit your local Main Street retailers, local businesses in the mall, etc., as you'll find that many of them have sophisticated inventory and the capability to order different sizes or colors for you, or have a website with additional products and services.

•For professionals, such a lawyers, accountants, doctors, etc., don't assume that you need to travel to larger urban areas to get superb service; local service providers are just as experienced and their services far more valuable than the larger, more distant organizations are able to provide.

•Understand that franchised businesses are also local business owners who need your support and patronage. Don't forget them when shopping locally.

•Most of all, realize that the dollars you send outside of your community, state or country will not ultimately benefit you as a citizen and resident of this county, and those dollars could instead be going to your neighbors.

For the entrepreneur

•Consider opening your small business here in your county with the ready, willing, educated and skilled workforce right in your neighborhood.

•When you have a business idea and need some direction, or have just started and want assistance in growing your business, don't just look on the Internet for general advice, business forms and ideas. Instead, use the Carroll Business Path (www.carrollbusinesspath.com) resources to get information on how best to start and grow a business here in your local community.

Keeping our local business community thriving is important year-round. When you treat every day like Small Business Saturday, you are on the right path.

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Marlene Titus is coordinator of the Miller Center for Small Business at Carroll Community College. Email her at mtitus@carrollcc.edu.

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