In the next installment of our small business series, Will Roman, Founder and Chief Texan at Chisos Boots, takes us through how a homegrown company based in Austin is taking the cowboy boot industry by the (long)horns with the power of the internet.
With the help of the internet, your local business can now take on international brands. For those in recent generations, the power of the world wide web — and reliable access to it — are often glossed over. But the internet’s impact cannot be overstated.
Countless things that used to require large capital investments — from storefronts to fulfillment software to even phone systems — can now be acquired by mom and pop shops at much more approachable rates.
Our small boot company utilizes Google Fiber internet service to create an outsized impact on the market. Here are a few tactics that have earned us a growing reputation as the best cowboy boots around.
STOREFRONT IMPRESSION MATTERS
We’re based in Austin, Texas, but reach customers around the state, the country and internationally.
We couldn’t afford a multi-million dollar headquarters building, but we did build a website that matches — and in many ways, exceeds — those of much larger boot brands. With e-commerce slated to command nearly 25% of all retail sales across the country, a significant number of your potential customers will be choosing between you and your competitors based on your websites. So make sure your digital storefront reflects your brand and tells your story.
Not only does online software manage our website, it also manages our physical back-of-house and fulfillment operations, which is a radical departure from how we operated even a decade ago.
SHARE THE STORY
Access to an audience (really almost any audience) is radically easier than ever before. It may be cliche, but your blog, social media and even email all enable you to reach millions of people.
Speaking to an audience in the millions used to require an advertising budget of dollars to match. With a fraction of that amount of budget, and a dose of creativity, you can now share your story with the entire world online.
Your unique voice and small business perspective are an advantage. In our experience, customers love seeing behind-the-scenes content from small teams, and love people who have a point of view. These are things that big corporations have more of a challenge with due to their size. Use your size and accessibility to your teams to your advantage.
ONLINE IS THE NEW REAL LIFE
People do their research online, they find communities to interact with and they certainly entertain themselves online. Small businesses can be nimble and excel at leveraging these new habits.
The Chisos Community group on Facebook brings fellow customers and boot enthusiasts together. Reviews are shared, questions are helpfully answered. And group video chats are organized to connect with others.
Livestreams let you talk directly to your audience, and then share the recording to thousands more. We host large gatherings at our headquarters in Austin, but then involve others across the world by utilizing our Google Fiber connection.
The big companies might have more resources, but the internet enables small businesses to truly compete and thrive.
Posted by Will Roman, Founder and Chief Texan, Chisos Boot Company