For some time I have been thinking of how to represent the small business owners for getting them the same opportunities as large corporate stores. What makes a small business stand out? How can they advertise and be seen when they have so many options and media to choose from? Thirty years ago you had a home town paper and the yellow pages. Hell, in the small town everyone knew each other and did not need yellow pages. As the population has grown, so have the various advertising media outlets, TVs, Cable TVs, Stateline, Internet, Search Engine Keywords, Flashy sites, and of course, the old yellow pages and the home town paper have lost the advantage. At the same time, none of these new outlets allow enough traffic on their own, to justify a small family – run business to pay and manage the cost associated with promoting themselves. Additional problem for such businesses is that if you buy enough search engine keywords, how do you know that they resulted in a transaction in your store? Or the smart yellow pages? How much business did you generate? Did the client come back? If so, when and how often? As a business owner, how do you reach back to him to thank him for his repeated visits or inform him of upcoming promotions? Direct mail is too expensive and no longer an option, since fewer trees have contributed to rise in price of mailers. Calling them is no longer allowed as a result of Do Not Call List in the US that has registered over a hundred million phone numbers. The Do Not Call List prevents solicitation via phone for businesses to consumers. As the world of Wall Marts and discount stores has increased, so has the small business owners suffered.
Now you see the problem I am trying to solve in Belgrade, the capital of non aligned nations, all ex-communist and now gone nationalist.
First, let’s define small business. We are talking about businesses that are less than ten million dollar in value. Majority of them are less than two million dollars in value. They usually have a long term lease or associated property, franchise rights, or are independently owned. They have less than twenty employees. These businesses are your favorite stores and clothing outlets that have managed to stay independent and survive. It may be a local restaurant or a pub. Some could be fortunate enough to at least be associated with a franchise. So, how can such a small business be heard above all the advertisement of the large corporate stores? How can this business be able to thank its local customers that have supported it to stay in business? How can small business be heard through various channels that are available to them? Now you see the problem I am trying to solve in Belgrade, the capital of non aligned nations, all ex-communist and now gone nationalist.
You see, I have been around a block in all sorts of extremism. For example, I was born under the Shaw Pahlavi, a dictator. Then, a transition to an Islamic Republic, a theocracy, and then I moved to the free markets and democracy for the teenage years. As soon as I took the oath of citizenship after being an illegal alien, I took full advantage of the rights given to me. (No, I did not buy a gun in America; you do not need to be a citizen to buy one.) I traveled as much as I could back to Iran, France, Germany, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Canada, Mexico, Brazil (illegally I have to admit), Argentina etc.Do you get the picture? So, I figured Belgrade should be scary enough place. It is the only place hated by the West for being the shit starter in World war I, World War II and the brake up of Yugoslavia, and now of course, the conflict in Kosovo. So, it is the place that westerners should avoid. Muslims too, since they hate us as well.