There are a bunch of local bars in the neighborhood where I live. Most of them have a retro or upscale feel to them. The buildings are well maintained and have interesting architecture and design. But this one bar really just looks like a whole in the wall. You know, the kind of bar you would expect to see in a student ghetto? No windows, no decoration, no class. Simply put, it looks out of place. I found myself wondering the other day why this bar doesn’t do something to make itself look more appealing to the eye. Why not renovate so you fit in with the rest of the neighborhood? I started thinking about how their business would bring in wealthier customers, and therefore bring in more money. But then it dawned on me that my assumption may not be correct.
You see, this people who run this bar know who they are as a business. They know that their bar appeals to a certain group of people, and they are not ashamed of that. They fit into an aspect of society. And perhaps if they renovated their bar to appeal to a different group of people, they would no longer succeed. They may fit into the neighborhood better if they renovated, but they would be competing with local bars for the same group of people.
As small businesses (and humans in general), it is too easy to try to fit in to a mold instead of standing out as ourselves. While it is smart business to follow certain consumer trends and fashions, we do not want to change who we are in order to appeal to another group of people. We will just end up competing with other businesses for the same group of people, while leaving our original clientele without a business to serve them. And most importantly we lose sight of ourselves and our originality in the process. We are creators, not copiers. We cannot be afraid to be who we are, because really that is when we will be at our best. At the end of the day, I will succeed by just being me.