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Posted by Sam Meers on Wednesday | June 6th, 2012
It doesn’t matter how big a company gets, there are always lessons that can be learned from small businesses.
I recently stopped by Little Freshie on the West Side of Kansas City. Little Freshie was created and owned by Lindsay Laricks, a friend and former Associate Creative Director at Barkley. Actually, and this is the important part, Lindsay first created Fresher Than Fresh (FTF) snow cones. It was the precursor to her Little Freshie store.
Lindsay created FTF and operated it for several years out of a tiny trailer in a garden at 17th and Summit in KC. There, she perfected her product, built a loyal customer following (including on social media) and came to understand what it would take to have a successful, ongoing business. She would bring her trailer to First Fridays in the Crossroads and sell snow cones to the masses. Every Saturday and Sunday, during the summer months, she would sell from her trailer in the garden. Parents, kids, grandparents and pets lined up to taste the eclectic flavors like watermelon/basil, mint/lime, pineapple/Serrano pepper and others. (Boulder is particularly partial to the watermelon/basil.)
With the opening of Little Freshie, Lindsay has done something many companies fail to do. She has successfully piloted a project to help assure its success. The three years of selling out of her little trailer was intensive market research. Her decision to begin selling FTF popsicles on a year-round basis was her first foray into product extension. Now, she is testing more recipes and products in her store.
In the digital age, it is often easier to test ideas quickly and make an assessment as to whether or not to move forward. But even in complex markets with complicated products or distribution channels, it is possible to test to help predict success. Some companies follow this strategy, many do not.
Pilot, assess, make a decision. It works for small companies. It works for large companies, too.