Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Standing out from the crowd

Recently, Smart Money magazine interviewed Jeremy Cowan, founder of Schmaltz Brewing Co., a niche craft brewery in San Francisco. In his interview, Cowan stressed how important it is to stand out from the crowd. As a small business owner, it can be very hard to gain customers with the "big guys" having an established market share. Shmaltz Brewing Co. has "learned to aim for the fringes and explore the counter-intuitive." Some of the company's brews include very interesting themes like "Chosen", a Hebraic-themed beer, and are introducing circus sideshow-inspired lagers. Cowan also says, "Although we lack the budgets of giant beer companies, we bring attention to our products through unique branding and promotions. For example, for the past two years, we've hosted 'Freaktoberfest,' a boutique beer and music festival in Brooklyn, N.Y. That and other promotional events have helped us attract a loyal following."

Another piece of entrepreneurial advice Cowan gives is to seek out professionals if you are not capable in a certain business area. "I like to be creative, which helps in running a business. However, I generally have a tough time with numbers, margins, and negotiations. To make up for my failings, I tapped a business consultant friend, who helped me craft a budget based on my company's sales, expenses, and profits...In time, I hired a professional bookkeeper and small business accountant to keep the company's financials on track and on budget," he states.

At the conclusion of his interview, Cowan was asked to give the best piece of business advice that he could offer. "You do not need to spend money to make money. You'd be better served if you learned to starve, struggle, save and sell. That way, you can achieve your vision based on quality, sincerity, creativity and hustle," he proclaims.

Cowan interview article

As an entrepreneur, what do you do to stand out from the "big guys"? Have you or do you plan to seek out professional help with matters you are not great in? How do you feel about Cowan's piece of advice? Do you agree or disagree?

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