By U.S. Senator Mike Enzi
This month, Wyoming celebrates 130 years of statehood. That means 130 years of dedicated entrepreneurs and small businesses. In every town, you can find a Wyomingite who turned an idea and passion into a successful business. Whether it is retail, hospitality or recreation, our state has it all. One of the oldest businesses – around since 1890, the year Wyoming became a state – is Miners and Stockmen’s Steakhouse and Spirits in Hartville. This one-of-a-kind Western treasure dubs itself the “oldest bar” in the state. Since then, others have built businesses that are staples in their communities, like Cowboy Donuts in Rock Springs, Breanna’s Bakery in Gillette and so many more. As we celebrate our statehood, we should also celebrate the small businesses that help make our state what it is today.
What makes a business last over a century? One component is authentic Wyoming values. When you look at Wyoming businesses, many have honest and hardworking values in common. If your customers can see your values, they are likely to come back. But how do you get your store to stand out to customers? A combination of building trust, continually rebranding and staying current with what customers want. Forbes offers other advice on how to stand out, like having legendary customer service, building strong relationships and maybe even implementing a type of guarantee.
I recently visited the Western Welding Academy in Gillette, where instead of creating a traditional welding business, the owner created a welding school. The owner trains and certifies many students every year, sending construction business and trained welders back into the local community. It is a reputable academy that offers many different courses for many specialties. It is a great example of how a business owner invented a new business model to appeal to a gap in the welding market.
A way to take advantage of the unexpected COVID-19 complications this year is to work on reframing your brand, so your customers can stay loyal and confident in your products. What seems old can always seem new again with a little elbow grease. Maybe you want to start with a new logo, business plan or utilize new development tools. You could even sign up for a trade show or local market to get your name out there. It’s possible to tackle all of these new ideas either for free or on a small budget. Canva, a free digital platform for graphics, offers advice for how to rebrand on budget, so you can accomplish things like designing a new logo and effectively using social media.
Take advantage of what Wyoming has to offer so your business can last another 130 years. Keep true to your values, keep reinventing your business – whether it’s your brand or inventory – and your customers are likely to stay engaged with what you have to offer. Wyoming will always have room for new ideas and innovation.