Allow me to introduce you to my friends. These entrepreneurial-minded powerhouses are changing the landscape of small business locally, nationally, and globally and you should definitely know about them.
This article highlights my 20 Favorite Businesses by briefly sharing what they excel at because they execute their own unique differentiation strategies insanely well. This is our chance to pinpoint what’s working for them, and if applicable, apply it to our own operations. After all, experience: You can earn it or you can learn it. Let's dive in!
**All of the images included are credited to the respective companies you read about here.
Thoughtful Human® | For communicating support in difficult circumstances
What they do: Help people find honest ways to communicate in dynamic relationships and challenging circumstances like dealing with addiction, cancer, depression, grief and other issues that completely suck, but suck a little less with the support of loved ones.
Business Strength: Clearly, Thoughtful Human® 's profound strength is meeting a crucial, yet - up until this point - unmet need. Can I get an “amen” for a small business that’s disrupting the norm and positively impacting people in such a necessary way? Wanna know something cool? Big box stores are taking note as Thoughtful Human® cards are beginning to roll out in the U.S. in retail locations like Target and Wholefoods.
Connect with Ali over at Thoughtful Human®
Peoria Innovation Alliance | Changing the Narrative
What they do: Create awareness and gather talent to move forward positively in a collaborative effort to highlight innovation and entrepreneurship in Central Illinois.
Business Strength: Facing bold goals head-on. The Peoria Innovation Alliance is fostering a collaborative movement to reposition the region and change our narrative to one of positivity and progress through the support and celebration of innovation, entrepreneurship, and startup activity.
Peoria Innovation Alliance’s mission is to share our region’s innovation history, promote our progress and vision for the future, and enable and empower the next round of innovators, entrepreneurs, and startups that call Greater Peoria home.
Connect with Jake over at Peoria Innovation Alliance
Try It Tiny | Tiny house enthusiasts
What they do: Connect tiny house enthusiasts with places to park and tiny houses to rent.
Business Strength: Tapping into a niche market. Have you ever heard of a Tiny Town? Probably not, but this little company (oh gosh, so many puns) is carving out a huge stake in the event hospitality sector and redefining the term “glamping” for enthusiasts who prefer less square footage in exchange for a bigger experience.
Connect with Maggie and Brittany over at Try It Tiny
Robert Redding | Upscale menswear retailer
What they do: Provide dependable, one-of-a-kind experience and 5-star service for customized men's fashion.
Business Strength: Attention to detail alongside a 5-star service experience. When you walk into Rob’s, he’ll greet you with his signature half smile. More than likely he’s already on point creating a custom look for a customer he knows like the back of his hand.
With a measuring tape draped around his neck, he might offer you a drink from his whiskey cabinet or a straight razor shave from his built-in barber shop. He’s not in a hurry because he knows that quality takes time. Who doesn't want to experience that level of service?
Connect with Rob over at Robert Redding Menswear Retailer
Janet Gwen Designs | Chic accessories for every go-getter getting after her dreams
What they do: Creates beautifully crafted, chic-to-the-core laptop, tablet, and cell phone cases, candles, and customized decals for millennial women out to conquer their dreams.
Business Strength: Copy that kills it. Janet Gwen Designs knows its target market like the back of their hand and their copy and content proves it. From their about page to their social media posts, blog content to email marketing, their marketing messages read like they’re sitting on a couch with their BFFs - a characteristic that resonates deeply with their target market.
Connect with Janet over at Janet Gwen Designs
The 80 Twenty Project | Helping people find health and balance
What they do: Group and one-on-one coaching to teach people how to make simple daily choices that add up to a huge impact on health.
Business Strength: Making her mission the core of her business. Molly struggled to nail down a healthy lifestyle for her family, but when she finally figured it out, she wanted to save others from the struggle. Her mission shines through in every video she posts, every article she shares, and in all the curriculum she provides to her audience.
PS The 80 Twenty Project runs a Supper Club where they provide new, vetted-for-health, kid-approved recipes weekly that take the headache out of family meal planning. To make sure you get in on the next round and for actionable health tips, opt into it for free at the link below.
Connect with Molly over at The 80 Twenty Project
Next round of Supper Club: Click to Join
Hello Headband | Handmade quality headbands for adults and babes
What they do: The cutest, comfiest headbands for adults and babies.
Business Strength: Hustling. Hello Headband has an online presence and a really solid pop up presence. And in case you haven’t noticed, pop ups are the new brick and mortar.
Connect with Megan over at Hello Headband
3030 Coffee Company | Serving up a coffee experience
What they do: Provide customers with perfectly roasted and brewed coffee with the absolute best customer service. In my experience and by the looks of their loyal customer base, they’re the best in town at what they do.
Business Strength: - Thirty-Thirty is in the coffee business, but the reason they’re successful is not just because they serve good coffee. They’re successful because they provide an excellent experience the moment you walk through the door. When you arrive, you feel like you belong. Their baristas look you in the eye. They smile and not because they’re supposed to but because they seem to love what they’re doing. Those are the kind of people I want to be around. Here, take my money! :)
Connect with Dan over at Thirty-Thirty Coffee Company
Sucré Sweets and Socials | Candy, gifts, and events shoppe
What they do: Gosh darn cutest little sweets shop promoting just how sweet life is
Business Strength: Out of the box idea execution. Sucré’s big city feel is a bit novel to rural Morton, Illinois, but that’s part of their secret (chocolate) sauce. Sucré’s owner, Keely, is fantastic at generating and executing family-focused events, products, and sweet treats. Every thing on their menu is to-die-for, but I’m a sucker for their “I Want S’More” Sucré-zy Milkshake.
Connect with Keely over at Sucré Sweets and Socials
A Perfect Promotion | Quality promotional products
What they do: Promotional marketing items
Business Strength: Understanding the value of relationships. They’re “people people” who happen to own a business. I’m really in love with APP’s bio. You can tell it was written by a human who has a passion for people.
“We value our relationships, and do not take anything for granted. We are here to work for your business and will outwork anyone in the industry. We have been in business for 26 years. Through the years we have obtained great relationships with our suppliers and manufacturers. These relationships are passed through to our customers to ensure they get the best price and service every time.”
Connect with Clayton and Trish over at A Perfect Promotion
Four30 Scones | Delicious scones for people who like things that taste good
What they do: Four30 Scones makes delicious scones for people who like things that taste good.
Business Strength: Doing ONE thing really well.Scones are their jam. You know they’re delicious because they consistently sell out at events. Most people would assume you’d continue growing the product line, right? Nope. Know what you’re good at and deliver every time - that’s how Four30 kills it.
Connect with Renee over at Four30 Scones
Like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Four30scones/
LOUISA JANE | Full-service interior design
What they do: From vintage to industrial, classic to natural, their jaw-dropping brand and style gives Joanna Gaines a run for her money. I know that’s saying a lot, but goodness.
Business Strength: And while their brand is on point and their collective design eye takes a close second, the strength that shines more brightly than any is how they showcase their team. See, they understand that while you’re technically buying “design,” it’s the people you hire to carry out the vision.
Louisa Jane does the people piece really well. Just jump on their website. It’s the team you’ll see first, not the design piece.
Connect with Janet and her team over at Louisa Jane
Lettering Works | Hand-lettered designs and branding
What they do: Help clients, campaigns, and causes build skillfully designed brands
Business Strength: Her ability to see opportunity around every corner has engraved Lettering Works as a trailblazer. Undoubtedly, Lettering Works’ owner, Chelsie, has taken the road less traveled often where there is no path and left a trail. Her reputation speaks for itself as people have started calling Lettering Works “the company that branded Peoria.”
PS Chelsie's project schedule fills up fast so if you're in need of logo / design work, reach out ASAP! Her work is amazing and she's one of the best designers I know.
Connect with Chelsie over at Lettering Works
Bailey’s Blossoms | “Affordable made beautiful” clothes and accessories for babes
What they do: Affordable made beautiful” clothes and accessories for little ones.
Business Strength: Owning their digital presence. This company knows where its target market hangs out online and they deliver consistent branding across all channels.
Connect with Erin over at Bailey’s Blossoms
Bump Boxes | Monthly subscription boxes for mamas
What they do: Find the safest, most effective pregnancy products to ensure healthy pregnancies around the world.
Business Strength: Investing in the employee. Bump Boxes is on track to hit $30M in their 4th year in business (WOWWWW!!!) and they’re rewarding employees for helping them get there. They recently announced the news of the issuance of stock options for their entire team. This announcement is significant for startups and entrepreneurs everywhere.
Connect with Christine and Leland over at Bump Boxes
Liv Thai | Connecting cultures through beauty
What they do: Authentic, quality, handmade products from local Thai artisans
Business Strength: - Existing for a bigger purpose. She explains it better than I ever could:
“My heart grew big for the small business owners in these small markets of Thailand who work hard for their keep. I wanted to personally reward their praise worthy work.”
Connect with Liv over at Liv Thai
Runaway Rack | Mobile fashion truck
What they do: Pop up all around town for locals to shop the chicest styles around.
Business Strength: Community over competition. Shay understands the power of rising together. Shay’s truck, Rosie, was around before mobile businesses became hugely popular. And even so, she’s a big supporter of others who have followed suit, even those who also sell women’s fashion.
Connect with Shay over at The Runaway Rack
UNUM Wine and Whiskey Lounge | Fine wine and whiskey
What they do: Provide a unique social experience
Business Strength: Differentiation. “Bars” are popular in central Illinois. Lounges? Not so much. The atmosphere directly reflects the experience they’re looking to provide. “Our goal was to provide the ideal environment for you to create great experiences with amazing people.”
Connect with Terry and Nancy over at UNUM
The Cannery | Warehouse event venue
What they do: Unique event space full of history and character.
Business Strength: Operating from their core of good human-ness. Amy Knapp is the big-vision-thinker, good-to-her-core kind of person everyone wants to do business with. Her smile will make your heart melt. Not only that, but she and her husband are darn good business people. With multiple businesses under their belt, The Cannery booked out months in advance before they even opened their doors.
Connect with Amy over at The Cannery
Tick Tick Fizz | Mother-daughter bath bomb duo
What they do: 100% handmade bath and body products for fancy’ing up your bathroom.
Business Strength: Starting early. The daughter in this mother-daughter duo just graduated high school! She teaches us that there’s no time like the present to lean in and get things started.
Connect with Emily over at Tick Tick Fizz
CONNECT WITH THE COMMUNITY
There you have it - my 20 faves. Each of these businesses started with a dream, a risk, a consideration that maybe, somehow, they could change the trajectory of their lives, community, and industry. And guess what, they are!
I encourage you to connect with the ones you find interesting. Send them a message and let them know you learned about them here. Use their products or services if they fit your needs. But most of all, feel welcomed to just be in community with this amazing group we have here.
SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY 2019
PS I’m bringing together my community of small business owners by compiling a blog post to be released on Small Business Saturday 2019. If you’d like to be mentioned, email me back with what you do, who you do it for, and your website and I’ll add you to the list!
My goal in every post is to make the most of your precious time and pack these articles with insanely actionable content. Have I done that for you today? I'd love to hear your feedback. Contact me or comment below.
And please do me a little favor and share this post with one other person because there's a good chance it will help them with their business.
Your business matters. Now go do something awesome in the world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
For proper introductions, I'm Francie. I started my business, Simply Integrated, in 2015 and have fallen madly in love with teaching small business owners how to run their companies more successfully and marketing to impact bottom line profitability.
My knowledge and experience comes from earning an MBA and from coaching small business entrepreneurs while managing and marketing their projects. I focus solely on business strategy and marketing and created this blog to help others run more successful businesses. If you’re interested, you can read more about me on the About page of Simply Integrated’s website.
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