Trends Among Indianapolis Small Businesses Closing

by | Sep 25, 2023

😡 I’m tired of great local businesses in Indy closing. 

I read last week in the Indianapolis Business Journal about another one. It reminded me of some trends I’ve noticed in the shuttering of businesses in Indianapolis.


Obviously, there are many complex and not-so-complex reasons businesses might close.

Some are under the control of the business. Others are not.

You can’t change inflation, supply chain, local and national economic pressures, interest rates, media narratives, global pandemics, changes in consumer behavior, etc.

Those all play a massive role, sure.

This post shouldn’t be read as shaming any local businesses. It’s hard out there, and sometimes, it just doesn’t work out in spite of our best efforts. 

However, I’ve seen too many small businesses make common mistakes unnecessarily, possibly contributing to their downfall.

I want to help businesses still grinding avoid these mistakes, and keep on keeping on! 

Here are a few I’ve noticed among businesses that I’ve seen close in the last couple of years and how you might be able to avoid them in your business.

Their websites are meaningless above the fold

All too often, when I check a business’s website after it closes, nothing is inspiring above the fold (in view before you need to scroll).

  • Their brand name in big letters (the logo is already there. Why repeat?)
  • A meaningless quote
  • A long “our story” paragraph 😴 
  • I saw a couple that had literally nothing (logo, menu…dead space 😬)

Whether you’re a restaurant, sell a product, or a service, the top of your website needs to address four things QUICKLY…

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • How does it make my life better?
  • How do I buy it?

If you do that in fewer words than a Tweet, more people will engage with your website and know very quickly if they want/need what you offer.

In addition to clear messaging in the header of your website, use photos or videos that draw the visitor in. Your building isn’t it.

If you’re a restaurant, show me the amazing food you serve daily.

If you’re a lawn care company, show me the amazing lawns of your actual customers.

If you sell skin care products, show me someone with amazing skin using them.

If you sell crafts or art, show me how amazing they look! 

They turn inward when money gets tight

Another trend I’ve seen among closing businesses is that when things get slow, or money is tight, they turn inward. 

Meaning they ignore their social media and website.

I get it. When money is tight, and you have bills to pay and employees to support, it’s hard to focus on anything else.

They get so focused on what’s happening that they forget those tools are there for the sole purpose of helping them reach and compel potential customers.

Most social media posts won’t turn into a direct sale. So, it’s easy to think social is the first thing to die when business turns south. 

The reality is that the cumulative boost of a consistent long-term presence on social media will be invaluable and help minimize or prevent those pitfalls later.

I’ll tell you what…If you want to know when business is slow and revenue is down for me…check my socials. 

More Activity = Lower Revenue 🤣.

Could I be more consistent on social media? Absolutely. Do what I say, not as I sometimes do. 

They didn’t budget for marketing or spent it on the wrong things

“We don’t have money to hire someone to build us a website or manage our social media” is something I’ve heard a million times.

I get it. 

Money is never tighter than when you start a new business.

Here’s the thing, though. It’s 2023. Without a strong website and social media presence, it will be hard to get eyeballs on your business.

These basic marketing tools are just as important of an investment as the space you lease, the sign above your door, or the packaging for the product you sell.

The money you spend there will more than pay for itself if you hire the right person to write and build your website and manage your social media, especially if you aren’t able to do it yourself.

Often, instead of investing in a good website and help with social media, they go with banners, yard signs at intersections (that last all of a week before someone removes them), billboards nearby (caCHING!), etc.

None of those will have the return of a well-written and designed website and a strong launch strategy for social media.

One of my early clients was a small jewelry business a friend was starting. Props to her. Her vision was barely half-baked when she called me about a logo, website, and social media presence. 

Having those three tools nailed before she even launched the business, I believe, helped her become stronger right out of the gate. 

If you have to bail on one, bail on the logo. Create a simple, clean, text-based logo yourself and get your website well-written and launched with social media right behind it.

Their social media feeds were about products, not stories.

Restaurants are dropping like flies. It’s hard to get people out to restaurants. 

Between the recent pandemic and services like GrubHub and DoorDash, people don’t go out as often. 

When they do, though, it’s an event, and they post pictures.

Anytime someone posts a picture of your product, food, etc., SHARE IT! 

Repost it on your Instagram or Facebook (especially IG. Stories are great for this). 

People love to see other people enjoying what you do. When they see other people enjoying what you do, it gives them a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out), and they want to share the experience.

People want to live great stories. 

Whether you are sharing the posts of folks including you in their story or creating content of your own, prioritize telling stories over static images of your products and facility.

If you’re a restaurant, don’t just post pictures of your food. Post pictures of people loving your food with the people they care about. 

Make your social feed a story of connection and relationships, not just food. 

ALWAYS make your social feeds a story of people. 

If you’re a lawn care company, ask your clients to send you pictures of family and friends gathered in the beautiful yard.

If you sell beauty products, ask your customers to tag you in their pictures of nights out after using your products.

Stories always win over static pictures of products.

Let’s see more Indianapolis small businesses succeed in 2024 

I’m tired of reading Indianapolis Business Journal articles about shuttered businesses.

I know how hard it is to run a very small business. We’re in the same boat. 

We’re a small marketing business in Indianapolis and lease office space near 71st Street and Binford Blvd.

All of the advice above are things we need to do (and continue to do better). 

I put a lot into trying to make our corner of Indy thrive. Whether through founding the North Shadeland Alliance, to sitting on the board of Binford Redevelopment and Growth, or working with local businesses on their marketing—I want to help more of our Indianapolis small businesses succeed.

If we can help, let us know.

If having a weekly reminder to check your marketing, with actionable tips to do so, would help, you can get our weekly marketing and messaging emails here.


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