Wednesday October 26, 2016
In recent years, small business has been growing exponentially, with an increasing number of entrepreneurs switching sides in order to work for themselves. But with rapid inflation of any market comes saturation, so how do YOU - the small business owner - stand out amongst the throng?
For those in the Colorado area, solopreneur Connie Kercher has a solution: Switchboard Networking Boutique, a professional venue for business owners to be intentional with their messaging and really become a show of force in their niche. A brick & mortar space that allows for exposure and sales to grow in tandem each quarter, Switchboard is based on the model of social enterprise, and allows entrepreneurs to host networking events, training sessions, and even display their products.
Officially having opened on the 8th of September, Switchboard filled over 58 reservations by the 4th of October and have already started booking into 2017. Switchboard’s Business-In-A-Box partners (30 local business owners who rent out their premises) have also seen consistent online growth in referrals, sales, and custom orders, that directly related to their foot traffic at the venue. Fulfilling a need for seasoned marketers and small business owners to have a consistent facility to meet and train became Connie’s driving motive to open Switchboard. “It’s extremely important for folks to get back to this level of intentionality,” says Kercher, “because at the end of the day, I’m still growing my business face-to-face, regardless of how my online presence is progressing.”
Support from the Colorado Community
Soon after moving from Texas to Colorado, Kercher joined the Experience Pros networking group and was quickly seen as rising talent, one of the people you need to get to know.The group - many of whom can be seen in the picture above - has provided her with a larger audience, invaluable support, and business partners who’ve been integral to Switchboard’s rapid growth.
“The Colorado small business community really understands what social enterprise looks like daily; specifically the intentional ability to support each other. It’s been refreshingly authentic,” says Kercher.
The shopping experience
“What currently resonates much more with customers is our ‘venue rental’ feature. However, our shopping experience is extremely unique too; allowing business owners to focus on their niches, display their products, and grow their clientele at the same time.”
The Switchboard Networking Boutique is meant to be more than just a meeting space, it’s meant to cause a shift in mindset: Instead of picking something up at a department store or national chain, swing by Switchboard and support a local business owner.
How have you used AllProWebTools to further this endeavor?
“It’s twofold. First, it’s allowed us to streamline our online registrations. Secondly, we’re responsible for thousands of products that span over all of our Business-In-A-Box partners, and AllProWebTools allows us to keep track of everything.”
Any advice for someone looking to start a small business?
“Be intentional about who’s in your dream team, and don’t be afraid to use focus groups! You need to be able to accept criticism and honest feedback in order to progress!”
With any project, a fresh set of eyes can help focus and steer direction, and Switchboard’s infancy was no different. Swearing by a team of individuals who critique ideas and enjoy the research side of business, Kercher mentions it was likely she would have closed doors to different demographics had she attempted the endeavor alone. Utilizing focus groups in conjunction with a trusted team, Kercher went through multiple iterations of the business’ name, ideas, concepts and marketing plans:
“I ALMOST CALLED IT ‘SHINE BOUTIQUE,’ CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?! The idea was that it would ‘shine businesses’ and it would be a light; a beacon for North Denver and blah, blah, blah. I had all of this idealism and terminology, but by trusting the feedback and suggestions from my team and the focus groups, we were able to move extremely fast after only a month of being in business.”
Interested in supporting a local entrepreneur or renting the venue for a training seminar?
Visit their website switchboardnb.com.