The Colby Magazine just featured a great article about Main Street Partners and one of our amazing small business partners, Ma and Pa Cafe!
This Fall, Main Street Partners hosted it’s second Volunteer and Business Appreciation Event at City Year. These events are a great way to get everyone together and show our appreciation to everyone that makes Main Street Partners possible.
We had a great turnout from both volunteers and businesses, and everyone had a great time! We look forward to getting even more folks out for our next event in January!
Main Street Partners was recently featured in an article by East Boston Main Streets, a public/private partnership initiative of Boston Main Streets, which was established by Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
We had a great time working with Executive Director Clark Moulaison on a recent project for an Indian / Pakistani restaurant in East Boston.
Read more about the great work East Boston Main Streets is doing here
Main Street Partners has endorsed it’s first borrower on Kiva Zip!
Eddy Nunez is the founder and owner of Ma and Pa Cafe in Roxbury. Eddy started Ma and Pa after returning from 14 years of military service overseas, and it offers fantastic food and a really unique environment in Roxbury. For a bit more background on Ma and Pa, we’ve included a blurb from Eddy’s Kiva page below.
It has been a pleasure to get to know Eddy over the past few months, and we’re really excited to have him as the first loan candidate in our partnership with Kiva Zip. Eddy is looking to raise $3,000 to improve Ma and Pa’s storefront, including purchasing tables and chairs and installing a new awning. This is a great opportunity for Eddy to improve both his capacity and visibility in the area.
Kiva Zip is still in it’s beta stage, so if you are interested in supporting Eddy, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will invite you. You can give as little as $25, and every little bit will help him improve and make the cafe as beautiful as the food is delicious.
Eddy’s Kiva Zip page can be found here: https://zip.kiva.org/loans/291
Tell us about your business
When I returned from 14 years of military service in 2009, I came back to Roxbury, and knew I wanted to start a business. I wanted to open a restaurant, but at this point didn’t have the money to invest in kitchen equipment and everything else we needed for a restaurant. I began by using the retail space below our apartment as a flower and gift shop – selling gift baskets and flowers for every holiday and occasion. It was hard work, but when we’d finally saved up enough money for everything we needed to open the restaurant, we started Ma and Pa Cafe, and named it for my parents.What I’m most proud of about Ma and Pa is how we’re able to give back to the community. More upscale areas in Boston have lots of nice cafes where people can relax and have a nice meal and cup of coffee, but this area of Roxbury never really had that. I wanted to build a place where where everybody is welcome. We don’t say no to anybody, even if they don’t have any money. We give food to them anyway. Since we’ve started, I have heard so many customers say how thankful they are to have a place like this in this community.
This has been a very rewarding experience, but it is also very challenging. When I got back from the military, I had nothing, and it’s taken all that we have to take care of the basics for the cafe, which has left little left over to invest in improving the storefront, expanding our seating, and all of that.
My heart and soul is in this cafe, and I truly believe that with a little help and a lot of hard work, I can make it one of the best places to eat and spend time in all of Boston.
For more information on Kiva Zip, check them out here: https://zip.kiva.org/
Main Street Partners is excited to announce it has formed a partnership with Kiva, a leader in online personal micro-lending to entrepreneurs around the world. Main Street Partners will be a trustee for Kiva’s new beta program, Kiva Zip, which will provide 0% interest loans to entrepreneurs in the U.S. MSP will be working with Kiva to coordinate and secure loans for our small business partners. These loans will allow the small businesses to pursue various growth initiatives like storefront improvements, investments in new equipment, and capacity expansion.
We are thrilled about the opportunity to work closely with Kiva to dramatically increase the impact of our recommendations to small businesses assist local communities.
Our first small business borrower will be posted on Kiva Zip later this week, so keep an eye out!
To learn more about Kiva Zip, check them out at zip.kiva.org/!
Main Street Partners’ new office in Harvard Square is up and running!
Thanks to all of our friends and volunteers for making it out to the Spring 2012 Volunteer Recognition Event at Channel Cafe.. It was a great opportunity to thank our teams for all of the great work they’ve been doing with this round of small businesses – a local cafe, toy store, flower shop and salon.
So far we’ve covered the importance of establishing a web presence and setting up basic optimization. Now that you have your site up and posted, how do you know if anyone is seeing it? You track it!
When walking the owner of Mehak through the chart below, he was immediately blown away by how we “knew how many people were checking him out.” The secret? We didn’t. That’s Google Analytics. Its extremely easy to use, and most importantly free. Once you have your website set up just go to www.google.com/analytics and from there Google will do an excellent job of walking you through the process. Once you have it set up you will not only be able to see how many people come to your webpage, what pages were the ones they stayed on the longest, but also HOW are they finding you.
Beyond just using Google Analytics, be sure to ASK your clients how they found you. Perhaps it won’t be your website that drives your new customers. Perhaps it will be a sign you posted or your biggest fan talking to all of their friends. No matter how you are getting your new business, the person who knows best are the customers themselves, so ask them! And once you know, follow the old marketing adage and “feed what works, and cut off what doesn’t.”
Being a small business is tough right now is harder than it’s been in decades. In the case of Mehak, the owner was giving everything he had to make the business successful and still was not seeing the success he wanted. In this economy, everyone is trying their best, so those who thrive will be those who find a way to get to their customer quickly and easily. These three steps are the just the basics of small business marketing. Stay tuned for more advanced tactics.
Best of luck and if you get hungry on your journey, I strongly suggest checking outwww.mehakboston.com and trying the Chicken Tikka Masala.
In our last post we hammered home just how important it is for every small business to have a website. So important that it bears repeating: Every business MUST have a website.
So now your website is done, it looks great…why aren’t people visiting?
Well, your site is one of the over 350,000,000 websites that exist. With that much out there, people are going to need a little help finding yours.
So how do you do it?
By thinking like a babysitter. It sounds crazy, but think about how babysitters (or at least my little sister) gets customers. She makes a flyer and posts it everywhere she thinks people will bring their kids. Your website is your flyer, and the internet is filled with places you can post it.
In the case of Mehak, since it’s a restaurant the first place the website we posted the website was Yelp. Whether you are a Yelp fan or not, it must be acknowledged that Yelp is a juggernaut in cyberspace business reviews. Yelp gets about 41 million visitors A MONTH and that is only growing. (In a future post we will talk about the impact of Yelp on growing your business but that’s an article in and of itself.) Mehak already had dozens of Yelp reviews, but little information on the business hours, prices, or menu offerings. We decided to add the Mehak personality to the Yelp site by adding pictures and most importantly, the menu so that people could quickly act upon the good reviews they came across.
From there, we posted the website to every place we could find, from food review sites to Halal-specific listings. And how much did this cost? Zero dollars and zero cents. Many sites WANT your website listed there and almost none will charge you for it.
When you decide where to post your site, think about who your target customer is and how they would find you. Are they going straight to your website because they need a mechanic and they know that you are located close by, or are they looking at a number of review sites to find the one who is going to treat them most fairly? Find where your customers would go when they need you, and make sure your site is there.
Once your presence is established, think of each site as a neutral space to converse with customers. Check the reviews often for positive and negative feedback and take it as suggestions for improvement. Add more information as your hours or offerings change – let your customers know that you care enough to give them all of the info they are looking for.
Next week – How to check your progress