It saddens me to see so many local businesses copying the big brands.  The burrito shop that tries to be Chipotle, or the local sports store that copies Dick’s Sporting Goods.  So many small businesses and their owners tend to follow what has been successful at scale in hopes that their business will follow suit.

There are some obvious problems with this:

1.  The competition is at scale, i.e. gargantuan and you can’t compete with those resources.
2.  Nobody wants you to beat the big brands at their own game.  There’s a reason Wal-Mart is so successful.

More important is that small companies do have some advantages.  Plenty enough advantages to carve out a niche and even enough advantage to build into something that eventually competes with bigger companies.

What’s missing from these smaller companies is the flair for the dramatic.  The willingness to Kaiser Sose the hell out of competition.  So when I go to NE MPLS and see a place that has a handful of chickens walking around, despite it being a retail outlet, I get that warm feeling.  That feeling that someone is eccentric as heck and knows that people talk.

Is there any reason not to give out lollipops to kids of obliging parents when they walk in the store?  Any reason not to give a free meal to every 100th person who eats at your restaurant?  Any reason not to play Wheel of Fortune all day long every third Tuesday of the month at your salon?  Of course not.  You can do what you want.  And you should.  It’s one of your biggest advantages.  Larger companies are for the masses and small businesses are not.  Those that try to be ultimately become something worse than bad, they become irrelevant.