It has repeatedly been discussed here how hard it is for a small shaper, board-builder, or retailer, to make it. Big corporations have so much more leverage against the smaller operations. I'm not in the surf industry, but I am self-employed, a small one-craftsman operation, little fish in the big sea, bottom of the food chain, etc. Although I'm no "success story", I have managed to survive thus far, when a lot of my competition, and others in related and non-related fields, have folded, so I have learned a few things I could share.
And I'm sure lots of you guys out there have tips and pointers that have helped you survive. Could we pool some of that experience / knowledge? I think it was Doc who started a good thread awhile back on running a surfshop. Maybe we could have a thread for shapers or board builders, along those same lines.
Now maybe there might be some hesitation to share here - after all, its the world wide web, prying eyes, lurkers with murky motives, cut-throat competition, etc. etc. And if you don't want to share your secrets, then by all means don't. But my thinking is, its not really other small guys that are the competition. Its the big guys who are putting the small guys out of business, its the wal-marts and costcos that cause the mom-and-pops to close shop. The small guys could help each other, with little or no risk. And the big guys have their own agendas, their own m.o.'s, their own huge machines to run, so I don't think there's much we could share here they don't already know, if its even useable to them.
Its like guerilla warfare - which wikipedia describes as "...a method of combat by which a smaller group of combatants attempts to use its mobility to defeat a larger, and consequently less mobile, army. " The little guy has more flexibility to change course, adapt, evolve, progress, and so forth. So his weakness can also be his strength.
What do you guys think? Is the subject worthy of a thread of its own?
For starters, I would submit that one of the best and most cost-effective tools to advertise today is a website, and closely related, is a blog. If I had a surf industry business, that is one of the first things I would take a serious look at. I'm not computer savvy at all, but I did my own website, and I get a substantial amount of business from it. I also have several blogs (although they are not business-related) I would be willing to discuss it, if anyone is interested. And to hear from others about their websites and blogs, and what they think about them as an advertising / selling tool.
Video sites, like YouTube, offer a lot of possibilities too. Surfers love surfing videos, and shaping / glassing videos are pretty popular too. I think that they are less effective than websites, but could be used as one facet of internet promotion.