Local businesses are instrumental in the economic development of many regions throughout the United States. Many local small businesses contribute significantly to local economies through employment, sales, and taxes. Because of this, the small business community benefits from a wide range of public services including roads, parks, museums, community colleges and universities, and health care. Entrepreneurs can tap into these public services and use them as an opportunity to increase their personal bank account. There are a number of popular local small business opportunities to consider.
Some local businesses are focused on one specific industry. For example, florist shops are often found in local neighborhoods because the floral industry requires local growers to travel long distances to harvest flowers in moderate weather conditions. In turn, local florist shops provide jobs to local residents. While some local businesses may have specialized in a particular industry, the benefits to such specialization are still numerous.
A few typical examples of local businesses focused on a specific industry include medical supply stores, home improvement stores, auto repair shops, jewelry stores and specialty clothing boutiques. Other local business opportunities that are not focused on a particular industry but still play a vital role in supporting the local population include tutoring, legal assistance, pest control, landscaping, and transportation services. Search engine optimization firms and local internet marketing companies are increasingly providing marketing strategies geared toward the local population. In fact, a recent study showed that nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population uses a search engine to find local information.
Another popular strategy used by local businesses is to partner with local businesses in exchange for advertising space or for the provision of products or services. Yelp is one example of an online business directory that has provided opportunities for local businesses to advertise. Yelp has become so successful that it now boasts over 22 million listings in its database, and many of its listings are supported by local businesses who post positive feedback and recommendations. The two most prominent Yelp pages are the New York and San Francisco listings.
Google Places, another popular local SEO company, has also developed a local business schema that is heavily weighted in its favor. Like Yelp, Google Places includes a variety of information that is organized by city, including a physical address, phone number, and business type. A physical address is important because it allows users searching for a local business to locate it based on proximity. Phone numbers, which allow users to verify that they are actually calling a business, are important because they provide additional contact information for customers who might be hesitant to provide their contact information online. Finally, business types are organized by category, again providing users a way to find the type of business that they need based on the information that they have provided.
Although Google and Yelp offer a powerful way for local business owners to market locally, these two service providers still have room to improve. They currently require users to provide their phone numbers and physical addresses before they can access the rest of the information. Google does not currently require additional contact information, and does not list category preferences, like some of its competitors. For small business owners seeking greater exposure, these two websites and others should be used as a starting point for a well-designed marketing strategy.