My family and I try to support small businesses wherever we can. We regularly shop in our local village stores, visit farm shops, independent coffee shops and often order online from boutique businesses.

On this year’s holiday in Tenby in South Wales, it was impossible not to notice the number of thriving small businesses in and around the town, and that got me thinking – what exactly is it that makes small businesses tick?

The short answer, as is often the case, is that there isn’t one magic ingredient. However two things strike me as being important:


  1. Find a Niche.

Some of the most successful small shops and stalls dotted around the town offer something quite unique and/or different. Micro-businesses that were offering anything from glasswork crafts (made in the store while you watched) to hair braiding and children’s temporary tattoos of every design imaginable.

If you can find a profitable niche to attack as a small business you’ll certainly have a greater chance of success, assuming there’s a market demand of course.


  1. Be ‘Excellent’ (Or Even World Class) at What You Do.

Sadly, finding that elusive and genuinely unique idea is quite a rare thing. Even if you do hit upon a great idea and attack a niche in a particular market your product or service will probably not remain unique for long, and this brings me to the second point, you must strive for excellence in whatever it is that you do.

Tenby, like so many other bustling seaside towns, is packed full of coffee shops and cafes, places to grab something to drink and a bite to eat. However, only a handful were full to the brim and thriving almost every minute of every day.

Why? Well location has a part to play, of course, but something else was very much at play here. The busy coffee shops had taken the simple process of serving basic food and drinks to another level in regards to quality (of their products and premises) and service.

Once such place, The Stowaway, was a great example. A small coffee shop nestled into a tiny archway close to the harbour. With very little space to work with they’ve created an amazing, cosy venue, and the quality of their products (especially the coffee and homemade ice creams) is absolutely stunning. In addition, the staff (including the owner) were always welcoming, chatty and friendly. The result? Busy and memorable.

This simple example applies to all businesses in all sectors. Try to offer something unique, and, if you can’t, be exceptionally good at whatever it is that you do.