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Your startup can make customers smile if you let them design their own retail experiences.

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The thrill of creating your own product, of being the only onein the world who has something--consumers love that sensation. Withcompanies such as Cold Stone Creamery letting patrons choose a mixof flavors to suit any particular sweet tooth, people are primedfor personalization. "We [as consumers] crave feeling special.We crave being able to get our creativity in our own product,"says Wes Moss, author of Starting From Scratch:Secrets From 21 Ordinary People Who Made theEntrepreneurial Leap. "In any customization business, whatan entrepreneur is really doing is empowering the consumer.You're embracing the consumer's creativity and helping italong."

You'll need tons of upfront preparation to launch apersonalized business. Research whether there is a desire for yourparticular customized product or service. Moss suggests consideringindustries where there's somewhat of a luxury feel and offeringproducts that customers are willing to splurge on. And manage thenumber of choices you give customers--a huge menu board with 150options will overwhelm them. Says Moss, "Focus customers onseveral choices--[numbers like] 20, 10 or 3 are manageable."Then you can offer more options with ancillary add-ons.

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