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“Strength in numbers!” #SFSBW2015 Interview with the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance

#SFSBW2015 asked small business owners and the organizations that support them throughout the year to share insights, best practices, stories and resources to help small business owners flourish. Today we hear from Ben Bleiman, Founder, Co-Chair, SF Bar Owner Alliance.

Tell us about your organization in one sentence.

SF Bar Owner Alliance is a group of bar owners in San Francisco who formed a grassroots community to assist one another.

What is your organization doing to help small business owners navigate today’s increasingly competitive marketplace?

We share information on everything from produce vendors to lease negotiations to City fees.

What is your organization doing to attract and support new and younger small business owners who are starting ou

Photo: James Tensuan, The Chronicle

Photo: James Tensuan, The Chronicle

t today? What are you doing to bridge the gap between old and new businesses?

We have a great mix of old school bar owners and new school ones. We have to have an email list and Facebook page b/c some of our members don’t use FB and some don’t check their emails.

To bridge the gap between us we believe in constant, open, honest and respectful dialogue.

Please describe one of your organization’s innovations. How has this enhanced way you reach and serve your clients or members?

This group would have been much more difficult without Facebook. Facebook provides us a platform for dialogue that is simple, free and HIGHLY effective.

What is one lesson you would like to share with small business owners—especially those who are struggling to change the way they do business in the current climate?

As bar owners, we are not competing with one another. We are competing against a city that continually forces us to raise our prices by jacking us our cost of doing business. This then, forces us to compete with other cities such as Austin, Seattle and Portland that are offering better business climates, and thus lower costs for consumers. Their lower cost of living is attracting young and talented people and puts us in real jeopardy here.

What is the most important belief or principle that guides your work and the trajectory of your organization?

Only by uniting together can bar owners ensure that we survive in this hostile business environment. Strength in numbers!

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