I could have not said it better Ben starts off our conversation by saying every local small business has a story to share. Ben is on a mission of bringing the community together to support and purchase from local small businesses.
Ben’s key takeaways:
- It’s so hard to let go
- Small business is the key to local communities
- Trust others
- Take the time to get to know your local small business owners
The Story of Ben and ThinkLocal
For as long as I could remember, I have been a business owner. My business ventures began when I was 8 years old and started making rice bags — you know, the ones you can microwave and use as a heating pad. Such a simple idea, yet so exciting to a young kid to create something that I could share with the world — and what an added bonus that I could sell them for $20!
This is what lit the fire within me to create something I could be proud of and eventually help shift my focus toward helping others create that same pride in their lives and businesses.
Small businesses have forever been the lifeblood and backbone of our great communities.
These are locally owned and operated and patronize and employed by our friends and neighbors — they are what make our Wisconsin cities, towns, and villages communities. With the help of my good friend Russ, we believed that these businesses needed to be celebrated, prioritized and, most of all, recognized!
Fast forward to 2012 — the birth of ThinkLocal!
As we set out, our first goal was to help local businesses market themselves and increase their presence within the community. ThinkLocal began as a magazine aimed directly at small businesses to advertise locally. However, we realized that true marketing was much more than advertising, graphic design, and printing coupons — we wanted to help tell the story of who they were and what makes them so special and valuable. After all, it is the people that make the business and not the other way around.
As technology and culture are always in a constant shift, ThinkLocal realized the need to adapt, evolve, and grow with this ever-changing world we live in. The world has gone digital and left many small brick and mortar businesses in its wake. This is where we see the greatest opportunity to help local businesses regain their presence — you no longer need a huge budget or major marketing firm to cut through the clutter to be seen and heard.
Understanding that all this can be daunting to the small business owner — we had to come up with a streamlined way to help our customers join the digital mainstream.
Lucas joined ThinkLocal to help captain the digital ship. There’s so much noise in the digital world it’s mind-boggling — and it’s getting louder every day. There’s Facebook, Instagram.
LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, NextDoor, TikTok (not even sure what that is yet) and the list goes on. We fully understood the impact that we wanted to make, but how were we going to do it?
What exactly was our business and what was the actual product we needed to develop to make this huge impact? Nine months later, we got it! Everyone loves an app.
Take everything you knew, throw it out the window, it’s time to roll up the sleeves and pull out all creativity. Did my clients have money to spend on advertising at a time like this, absolutely not?
Our focus went to non-profits and the community. Such a horrible disaster our world experienced, yet it revealed so many wonderful strengths in people. Their creativity, their willingness to serve others, family, slowing down, it was awesome! Business must go on! We need to build and support each other…..then enters Shawn.
Shawn is our software and systems guru. Shawn and his team have been instrumental in helping ThinkLocal find our identity and clearly define how we will make our impact on small businesses and communities as a whole. With the development of the ThinkLocal mobile app, we now have the capability of connecting people where it matters most — LOCALLY! The technology behind the THinkLocal mobile app makes this the one-stop small-shop that connects communities to businesses, events, news and much more.
What an impact we can make — TOGETHER!
A lot has changed for me since I was that 8-year-old boy turning rice and cloth into make-shift heating pads. What has remained the same throughout, is the pride that comes with creating something I can be proud of, something that adds to this great world and brings people together who share that same pride in what they do and the communities they live. I believe that ThinkLocal can serve as a great tool to enrich local businesses and community members alike, after all, one is never without the other and that’s the way it should always be.
Think BIG — ThinkLocal
* If you are interested in learning more about our mission and how ThinkLocal strives to make an impact on your local community, please visit our website, find us on Facebook or feel free to schedule a video chat with me or Lucas.
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