I am always excited to see the results from blending offline and digital business behavior. Blending ideas has fast become a hallmark of internet-fostered communication, as well as success.
One book that details the best results of this blend is Small Town Rules, How Big Brands and Small Businesses Can Prospect In A Connected Economy, a wonderful distinct guide written by Barry Moltz (@barrymoltz) and Becky McCray (@BeckyMcCray). These terrific authors are no strangers to the small business community, both nationally recognized for their entrepreneurship consultations and numerous appearances in publications.
McCray, a Hopeton, Oklahoma cattle rancher and small business owner, is best known for Small Biz Survival, an top small business online resource for rural businesses, and Tourism Currents, a social media resource site for the tourism industry she co-founded with Sheila Scarborough. Moltz is a popular consultant who helps small businesses get “unstuck” and is host of the blogtalk show Business Insanity; He has written three books including You Need to Be A Little Crazy: The Truth about Starting and Growing Your Business and BAM! Delivering Customer Service in a Self Service World.
Anticipating a great thought-concerto on business and community, I was well rewarded for reading valuable notions from McCray and Moltz. Their ideas speak sharply to business owners seeking the best practices of business development.
Small Town Rules notes that the recent economic changes have altered the ways small businesses must operate to survive. The result is a new small town paradigm for businesses of all sizes, with advantages and disadvantages altered in illuminating ways. For example, Moltz and McCray note that geographic location, once advantageous because “Craftspeople wanted to be located near raw materials.…Merchants had to be on the trade routes”, is an eliminated factor.
“Fast transportation of physical goods reaches most populated parts of the world efficiently. The introduction of containerized intermodal shipping … reduced freight costs and remade the entire industry of moving goods overland and by sea.”
The lack of geographical attachment, called “Anywhere Anywhen”, is now the new norm. Big businesses realizes that “jobs are also no longer geographically tied” while small town historic milestones make clear how the “new ways” have been with us all along:
“The loss of geographic advantage is nothing new for small town business owners. They lost their geographical advantages a long time ago with transcontinental railroads and interstate highways.”
Moltz and McCray skillfully note small and big business perspectives, recommending approaches that merge business development skills with social media, networking sensibilities, and consideration of assets. This outlook helps the book relate to rural entrepreneurs far away from a metropolitan center as well as those in large urban centers who feel they are competing with everyone from everywhere. Take the suggestion of “rural sourcing” instead of simple outsourcing:
“Turning the disadvantage of a rural location into an advantage of lower cost, rural sourcing captures jobs that otherwise might be outsourced overseas. Rural service firms claim a number of advantages over global firms: shorter supply chains, better data security, intellectual property protection, cultural compatibility, and convenient time zones.”
Small Town Rules provide what-to-do summaries in collalaries at the end of each chapter, while occasional segments focus on “powerhouse brands“– businesses well known but not always in the news, such as LL Bean and The Grasshopper Company of Kansas. Appendixes note varied resources from books to cloud-based business solutions.
Highlighted thoughts include:
- When networking, beware of the CAVEs – Citizens Against Virtually Everything – those who resist the ideas to the point of derailment and missed opportunity.
- Community means people communicate a lot, so make customer service a priority and “treat it like it’s all you got.”
- Big and small companies are returning to the values of small towns – knowing your neighbor, incorporating voices from everyone who “steps ups and lead”
- Plan for zero – being ready for economic disaster by diversifying income streams on a true pivot of sources, instead of any ol’ service to attract interest (This is my favorite perspective of the book). “There are three ways to get ready for those zero times: question assumptions, know the seasons and cycles, and invest for the long term.”
What books compliment Small Town Rules:
- Locavesting — The financial resources showcased in this book matches the network resources given at the end of Small Town Rules
- The Mesh – Need an idea that is unique in your region? Services and product ideas in the Mesh are a starting point to elaborate on the “Anywhere Anywhen” phenomenon.
- Worth Every Penny — Read Anita Campbell’s great review on a book that reinforces the importance of create a unique brand experience.
- The Welcomer’s Edge – Richard Shapiro’s concept displays the way we engage customers leads to repeat sales.
Readers with small business dreams or brands looking to serve smaller markets will benefit from Small Town Rules. Pick up a copy to build a close business relationship with your customers, and to develop a style that competitors may never emulate.