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Patch Partners in Cartersville

Small business owner Linda Fuller offers tips for expanding your services.

There are more than 2,150 small businesses—those with less than 250 employees—in Cartersville, according to 2010 Census data. Some of them may be places you and your family frequent, businesses that have been in Cartersville for as long as you can remember. And some may be your go-to places instead of national chains.

Small business owner Linda Fuller is no stranger to starting a business from the ground up. In her recent interview with Patch Partners, a website connecting business owners to Patch in local communities, she offers insight into how she expanded her business’s services from just flowers to wine, beer and gourmet gift baskets at Lake Anne Florist in .

Homework must be done first, she said.

“Research what’s compatible with your own products and services, what the current trends are and what your competition is doing.”

Swheat Market owner Kari Hodge said her business in downtown Cartersville opened in 2005 as a grocery store with a small area in which food was sold by the pound. It didn’t take long for her to see that the bulk of her business was in prepared food, and a couple of years later she changed her business to solely a restaurant.

“I’m glad that I got out of the grocery business. You can’t compete with grocery stores, price-point-wise," Hodge told Cartersville Patch in February.

When an economic downturn hit in 2008, Hodge didn't think her business would last. She had whittled down her staff to three and only served lunch.

"Have three times the money you think you need and access to more. Make a business plan for one, three and five years, with goals. Most businesses fail because they’re undercapitalized," Fuller notes. "Prepare for three years of working like a dog.”

She said it's also important to use your resources and spread the word about your business.

“Get help and advice, whenever and wherever you can. Every business has a trade organization and those organizations usually have wealth of information available. Finally, advertise, advertise, advertise. Don’t see it as an expense. See as an investment.”

Hodge has said it takes two to four years to make a business successful in Cartersville. “I don’t care what you do, you can’t do it without good people,” she added.

Perhaps two of the most notable and treasured small businesses in downtown Cartersville also are restaurants. While the two seem to have grown in popularity, they each serve up chili and steak-and-gravy burgers in old bar stool diners that haven't changed much throughout the years.

4-Way Lunch, which itself evolved into a hamburger and hotdog joint, has been in town for more than 80 years. It's been featured in Southern Living and in or on a number of other publications, television programs and websites.

Family-owned and operated and a community favorite for 65 years, Ross's Diner hasn't changed much either, offering old-fashioned, made-to-order food that includes specials and vegetables.

What are your favorite small businesses in Cartersville? Tell us in the comments.

In addition to eating at your favorite downtown Cartersville restaurants, you can support locally-owned, small businesses by participating in Amex’s Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24. Last year, more than 100 million people participated in this day dedicated to supporting small businesses.

There are more articles and interviews about small businesses on the Patch Partners website, where you can also sign up for the Patch Partners newsletter and Patch Partners Twitter feed to stay better informed, grow your small business and strengthen your community.

TELL US: If you are a small business owner, did you find this information useful? Have you been able to expand your business based on these tips?

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