Main source of a small business (as much any other business) is of course the customer. Everything is moving around customers demand and desires. And much more for a small business, which some times is “customer's victim”. Small business, more than any other large business, is obligated to move and grow according to their customers demands and desires. It's much more difficult for a small business to manipulate customer’s desires, even if sometimes is also happen.
Building a business is all about building a relationship with the customers and how smaller the business is so more personal this relationship is like. You can have a personal contact with the grocery store owner who is using many polite strategies to win his customers, like knowing and asking about your family, your job or so, or even use to give you something for free, to create a trustful relationship with you, and all this is small business building customer relationship strategy! And it is worth.
A couple of days ago I past together with my two nephews (4 and 9 years old) from one of the most expensive streets in Frankfurt, just because it was the only place to find free parking for the car. It was a quite afternoon without many people on the street, because I didn't know very well the area I entry one of those very expensive shops to ask about my way. The very polite lady was targeting the kids before even know what my reason for entering her shop.
Finally she show me the way and leaving the shop she gave two tea caps for the kids “to drink there milk every morning” she said.. She was building a relationship with me even if I wasn't a customer yet, later when arriving home I saw the gift she gave to us, there where they logo on the caps and on the boxes, there address, a phone and there website. She try in a very spontaneous way to build a seller-buyer relationship and win so a customer, very professional!
Germany's small businesses try to win a customer who has seen many advertisings on the TV and on the net about products they will get and shopping malls where they can get them. As soon shopping malls and really large retail business in Germany (and in any large city or country) have the possibility to use any kind of adverts or marketing tricks to get there customers, the most difficult is to create the really personal relationship with the customer where exactly a good small business based they whole philosophy.
All this makes small business growth to be adjusted, more than any large business, to customers really demands and desires. Customers in Germany create a strong relationship with small businesses. They get there morning coffee on the same coffee shop every morning, they also stay sometimes longer, talk some gossip, politics, football, fashion etc. and step forwards to start there routine day. The same way the fast food corner, the restaurant they visiting some times, the boutique, the grocery store, the bar.
Small business challenge in Germany (and in many other countries in the world) is keeping this natural relationship with the customer how even far the business growth. In Germany as soon German customer is a good informed and really mature consumer. German consumers judge strictly the quality of the product a business is offering and shows his/her satisfaction through frequently preference, what exactly a small business need, a small business needs frequently customers.
In this conditions a customer in Germany would be very satisfy if he/she could get a cup of the same coffee he/she get every morning also in other moments and other places around the city, he can not get everywhere the personal relationship he/she has with the morning coffee maker but he/she want that particular coffee quality.
In this desire is hiding the small business growth in Germany. Small business's next step is creating more and more brunches around the city with the same style and quality. The most of the small business I know the last 30 years in Germany, did follow this way of growth. By opening brunches around the city. Some of them become large or really big businesses through, but they start was in a small business shop.
One of this kind of businesses I know well in Frankfurt, as I personally worked there when I was a student is “Der Bäcker Eifler”. On 1994 Der Bäcker Eifler (that time the name was: Backparadeise Eifler) was already a large business with a few branches around Frankfurt, all of them sold the same products. So people use to get a quick breakfast and a small coffee, and some snacks for the break on work later, when they drive home they stop on the "Der Bäcker Eifler" brunch near there place and get some bread products for the dinner and maybe also some desserts. Der Bäcker Eifler is a good example of small business growth in Germany, that time branches have a variation of quick made coffees, place to have a quick cap standing (in some brunches also to sit), many kind of bread products and desserts and in some brunches ice cream as well. Today looks like, after so many coffee shops in Frankfurt, they still look much frequented in all there brunches in whole Frankfurt.
Der Bäcker Eifler is a nice sample, but is already past in an other faze long time ago, they are a big business and keep adding brunches through franchising.
The next step many small businesses did in Germany was a brunch. So there are restaurant's with several selling points, I know coffee shops, boutiques, grocery stores and hairdressers still in a small business level, but with more branches around Frankfurt city.
Resuming all what I said about Investing in a small business in Germany some very important points (but not only those) are:
Good quality products or services
High operation cost (very high rend)
In big towns like Frankfurt it's very difficult to find free space to rend, so usually it takes time to prepare the business at all.
This is only a part of Small Business Investing in Germany, I will continue to get deeper this topic, with some successful stories of small Business in Frankfurt from people investing overseas, some small business rules and ideas. You can subscribe to my newsletter so you will never miss any article.