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Set Your Small Business Above the Rest

AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong, as well as a few local small business owners, give advice on running a small business

There are a number of small businesses in East Windsor, Hightstown, and Cranbury. Some of them may be places you and your family frequent, businesses that have been in the area for as long as you can remember. And some may be your go-to places instead of national chains.    

AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong may stand behind a global brand, but he believes in the power of small businesses. In his recent interview with Patch Partners, a website connecting business owners to Patch in local communities, he offered his insight into what can set a small business above the rest of the competition.

Small businesses can hold a lot of power if they are intuitive with their customer base, Armstrong said.    

“Small businesses can be nimble and can have intimate relationships with their customers. Knowing what their customers want is a very big advantage.”

Amy Quigley of City Streets Café, East Windsor, knows what her guests want and expect from her restaurant–great service all year round.

Quigley said this includes staying open during bad weather and on most holidays, something the Café prides itself on.

Even during the recent superstorm, Quigley said City Streets was up and running with a generator and a limited menu by Wednesday afternoon, as there were so many people without power, light, or heat.

“The locals were thrilled to have a place to go that was warm and friendly,” she said.

Armstrong also noted that real success lies in what your business offers that the competitors do not.

“The advice I would give is the same advice I give myself—how do you create a differentiated and time-saving experience versus your competition? If a consumer cannot tell another consumer what unique benefit you offer, you might be missing an opportunity,” he said.

Basem Hassan of Roasting Post Coffee, Hightstown, believes small businesses have the unique opportunity to stand out in their community by becoming part of that community.

“This is Main Street USA, where the owner sweeps the sidewalk, asks about how your day is going, and can swing past your house to let you know if the power is back on yet,” Hassan said.

Hassan said Roasting Post strives to give the community they do business in an excellent product at a fair price that everyone can be proud of. In return, when someone supports a “mom and pop” like Roasting Post, they directly help keep a roof over the family’s heads, gas in the cars, and food in the fridge at home, he said.

“I am a person with a name, a family, children, and the same day to day worries like my customers,” Hassan said.

“That $2 cup of coffee goes towards giving my girls activities like sports or music to keep them away from the TV babysitter,” he said.

Hassan said it is important for small businesses to work with the customer to make their service or product just right.

“When a customer has an idea or is dissatisfied, they can talk directly to me because I want to make things perfect,” he said.

Hassan also hires locally and strives to give employees a work environment where they know they are valued.

Ultimately, Hassan said, “mom and pop” answer to you, not anonymous shareholders.

Another way to support locally owned small businesses is to participate in American Express's Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24. Last year, over 100 million people participated in this day dedicated to supporting small businesses.

There are more articles and interviews about small businesses on Patch Partners, where you can also sign up for the Patch Partners newsletter and Patch Partners Twitter feed to stay better informed, grow your small business and strengthen your community.

TELL US: If you are a small business owner, did you find this information useful? If you are a patron of small businesses, do you agree with this advice? What are your favorite local businesses, and why?

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