All Posts Tagged: National Small Business Week

Customer Wise: Adapt with your evolving market

Michelle Di Gangi
Small Business Banking

I know I speak for all of our business bankers when I say that we’re constantly inspired by — and in awe of — our small business clients. So much so, that we’re sharing on our blog what we hear from them in this ongoing series called “Customer Wise” — whether it’s advice, lessons learned, or an interesting market perspective.

Duncan McIntosh headshotTo mark National Small Business Week this year, we’ve asked five of Bank of the West’s business banking clients to share insights and tips for anyone starting a business now.

Duncan McIntosh is founder and president of Duncan McIntosh Company Inc., a publisher (titles include Sea Magazine and Boating World) and boat show producer in Irvine, California. In the Q&A below, his emphasis on flexibility appeals to me, especially when it comes to the ever-changing challenge of engaging customers. I also like his “Go West” edge!

Q: Think back to when you started your business. What do you wish someone had told you before you started?

A: I started a warehousing, distribution, and specialty printing operation when I was right out of college. This fellow at a company I was doing work for told me I was only “selling time on the machine”; instead I should find a way to create things. When you create things, you can build value that’s not just by the pound, by the inch, or by the hour. So I was always thinking: “What could I create?”

Based on your experience starting and running a business, what advice would you give someone starting a business today?

You can’t look so much at what has worked in the past. You need to come up with something you are passionate about and you feel will work in the evolving market. You have to figure out what your market is, who your customer is, and how you reach the customers in your target demographics.

That’s the trick going into the next 20-30 years. You can’t get in a comfort zone in terms of how you reach your customers, or even who those people are. It’s evolving.

What are you most proud of when it comes to your business?

I’ve always tried to be the best at what we do in our niche, and I’m proud that we’ve got the biggest yacht show in the West, and it’s quite an event. It appears people think we do a good job because they are always telling us that. You can’t be all things to all people; so we specialized in yachts, and as a result of that we’ve done very, very well. I’m proud of that because no one has been able to touch us in that field.

And with our publication Sea Magazine, I don’t think anybody comes close to us (in boats 26′ and above) in the Western United States. All of the boating magazines out there now are Eastern regionals; 80% of their circulation is east of the Mississippi. We took the standpoint of, “Hey, can’t reach the West unless you’re with us.”

Would you do it again (why or why not)?

Sure, no question about it. No regrets. I think I’ve done a lot of the things I wanted to do. One of the things that keeps me going today is that I don’t see what I’m doing as a job. It’s a passion. I’ve always thought if you love doing something enough so that it’s not a job, then why would you ever think about retiring?

You can learn more at the Duncan McIntosh Company Inc. website

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Customer Wise: Cooking up success with local flavors, pride

Michelle Di Gangi
Small Business Banking
Gabe Mendoza in his restaurant/bakery, The Shed.

Gabe Mendoza, owner of The Shed, a bakery and restaurant in Las Cruces, New Mexico, shares small business tips.

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Customer Wise: High standards earn community’s trust

Michelle Di Gangi
Small Business Banking
Mary Martinez at her desk, smiling at an employee who is mostly off-camera.

Mary Martinez, owner of Home Instead Senior Care in Albuquerque, New Mexico, shares advice and what she’s learned about running a business.

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