Build a Successful Small Business

May, 2012

*Retrieved from Construction Links Media*

The key to success is to establish a good or service, and then stand out from the crowd.

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — When it comes to establishing a successful business in a competitive market, having a good product or service is just the start of the effort.

It is also necessary to distinguish your venture from your competitors so your customers not only know who and what you are, but so they will be able to easily recognize your brand and associate it with quality. When Mike Riehm founded Envirobond in 2001, he knew he had a unique product that met a need in the market place. But he was also faced with the challenge of making Envirobond’s organically-stabilized jointing sand products stand out against tough competitors in the hardscaping industry.

“Envirobond was born out of solid research and development, creating an innovative and environmentally-friendly product that improved on everything else that is in the market right now,” says Riehm. “But we made the business decision to go that step further to make sure people remember Envirobond. For that, we had to be more creative, more innovative and even a little flamboyant.”

Here are some handy tips for establishing your own small- or medium-sized business, courtesy of Mike Riehm and Envirobond.

  1. Invest in your product. Envirobond products are the result of 11 years of intense R&D, but it is an investment in time and money that paid off with a line of products that are not only environmentally friendly, they also work.
  2. Don’t be embarrassed when it comes to promotion. If you have seen the Envirobond team at a trade show or event, you won’t forget it. In 2008, Envirobond launched a full clothing line that included lime green, yellow and white argyle pants, shorts and skorts.  This brand has been a staple focal point at professional landscape tradeshows throughout North America. “People remember us,” says Riehm. “And that helps our brand.”
  3. Be professional. While the argyle suits may stand out, it’s a quality product and strong customer service that will ultimately determine your success or failure. “We built Envirobond into a global company because of our professionalism,” says Riehm.
  4. Be service driven. While it helps to host events for top customers or stage instructional sessions on how to best use your product, it is most important to be responsive to the needs of your customer base. Don’t be afraid to interact with them, and listen to what they have to say, especially if it is a critique. You may learn something to improve your business.
  5. Engage your clientele across several platforms. Depending on your product, you may find direct marketing is best, or maybe a trade show presence or a concerted public relations effort. But whichever you choose, you can tie it all together online, directing customers to a website or social media outlet to learn more, get tips and instructions or offer feedback.

Following these tips will help establish and grow your venture. In October 2010, Envirobond answered a call for manufacturers of innovative green products to send in applications to be considered at The Home Depot. EnviroSAND and EnviroSTONE are products designed for the joints of interlocking stone and flagstone.  It is essentially a sand mixed with a plant glue designed to stay in place.  It prevents washouts and helps deter weed growth.  It is also completely green.  After making it through a process that was similar to the CBC show Dragon’s Den, Envirobond made it on to the shelves of Home Depot stores in the London, Ont. Area for a one-season trial.

That was a foothold for Envirobond. By being aggressive in the market, establishing a presence and making Envirobond stand out from the crowd, Riehm was successful in leveraging that into bigger arrangement. Envirobond products are now available at 64 Home Depot outlets across Ontario, giving homeowners embarking on Do-It-Yourself projects to use the same materials the pros use.

Follow Envirobond on Twitter @Envirobond, Like it on Facebook and get tips, pointers and information on Envirobond’s YouTube channel.

About Envirobond
Envirobond was born in 2001 out of the Agricultural Science program at the University of Guelph (one of Canada’s top schools for Environmental Sciences).  After completing his degree, President and founder Mike Riehm developed a product line that is now sold in Canada, the United States and Europe. Envirobond’s products have been a staple product in the professional contractor marketplace for the past decade, and it is now making a big splash into the Do-It-Yourself market with an agreement to sell Envirobond products in 64 Home Depot stores across Ontario.

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