How to Reach Small Business Owners

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Discussing an issue with or offering some product or service to a small business first requires that you be able to successfully reach the decision-maker, who is almost always the owner. Though small-business owners have much on their plate with the day-to-day operations of their business, persistence pays off in the long run. However, refining your communication skills is a must as the business owner may have limited time to speak with you.

Find the name of the small-business owner. Go to an Internet website that collects information specifically on small businesses, such as Hoovers, Manta or infoUSA411.com. Input the name of the small business and other relevant details--such as state or zip code--and click the search button. Write down the owner's name and telephone number.

Call the number for the business and politely ask to speak to the owner. When requesting the small-business owner, call him by his name instead of using the generic reference of "person in charge" or "owner of the business." Make your presentation or request short and to-the-point. Offer to call back at a different time if the owner says he is "busy."

Send mail and packages to small-business owners by way of a professional shipping service like FedEx or the United Parcel Service (UPS). Write the owner's full name on the address label. Stamp a "private" or "confidential" label on the outside of the package or envelope to pique the business owner's curiosity. Sending packages through a professional shipper instead of the United States Parcel Service makes it more likely that your mail will get opened and be read by the small-business owner himself. Small-business owners often view these communication methods as "important."

Contact your local chamber of commerce. Request to make a presentation to its members or offer something of value. Many local chamber of commerce organizations hold regular chamber meetings where small-business owners congregate. Schedule your presentation during the appropriate meeting time to reach multiple small-business owners at once.

Prepare an elevator pitch--a brief, persuasive description of the product or service about which you want the small-business owner to hear. Visit the business owner's store or office, and make your short presentation to the owner. Give the owner your business card or contact information for follow-up.

Tips & Warnings

  • Small-business owners may be easier to reach directly--on the phone or in person--in the early mornings before the business opens or in the late evenings just before closing time.
  • Make a limit on how much you call the office or store of the small-business owner; calling too much could be borderline harassment.
  • Take "No!" for an answer if you're contacting the business owner about a product or service in which he is not interested.

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