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Small town business has a lot to teach any business

As small town business people, we know a thing or two about business. What we learn in the tough environment of small towns gives us a valuable perspective.

We know what it’s like to survive an uncertain economy and through times with zero income. Just like the national economy today.

We know how to manage multiple lines of income to make a go of it. Just like experts now advise for all business.

We know how to use technology to work no matter where we are. Just like all business is finding to be an imperative today.

We know how to cope with customers communicating directly with us, and talking about us all over. Just like all business is being forced to now.

I am probably the only small business author who shoots videos out by the barn, but here’s my take on what small town business people know about seasons that applies to all business today. In today’s high-pressure and always-on business environment, we’ve almost forgotten that everything falls into natural seasons. Watch for these seasons in your business and projects. Work with them instead trying to force past them.


For farmers, there’s a planting season when they take their seeds, go to the soil, plant their crops and hope for the very best. There are times in your business as well, when you are planting seeds of new projects, when you are using time to do the training, and the preparation that puts your business in place to grow and prosper during the coming year.

Then comes the growing season, as things are growing. Farmers know that in every growing season there will be weeds, and they will have to worry about whether rains come at the right time and what other problems might occur. They have to plan ahead to meet those. It’s good to know that in your business there will also be trouble with rain, worrying about whether resources will come at the right time for your business. There will be trouble with weeds, too, in your business. You know that problems will crop up, no matter what type of business you have. It’s important to know what those problems might be so you can plan ahead and prepare for them as best you can.

Then we come to harvest time. For the farmers, they are gathering up the year’s crop and going to market. There will be a busy time like this in your business as well. But if you haven’t thought through that season and prepared for that busy time, you might find yourself caught short when a harvest time comes on you unexpectedly.

Then comes what I think may be the most important season, that we don’t think about in business, and that’s the winter time. This is when the farmers rip out all the remnants of last year’s old crop, and they do the work to prepare the soil for next year’s crop. They have to wait and watch conditions and know when its time is right to plant again. This will be true in your business as well. We don’t talk about it very often, but you will come to a point in your business when you need to rip out the remnant of everything that came before and start over. It also means you have to know to watch for when the conditions will be right. You’re going to have to wait. You’re going to have to prepare, and when it’s time again, you can start the seasons over. Start with planting again.

Becky McCrayBecky McCray shares more lessons useful for urban and rural business in the award-winning book, Small Town Rules written with Chicago entrepreneur Barry Moltz. She also owns a liquor store and a cattle ranch in Oklahoma, in the U.S., and is a recognized expert in small business and social media. She publishes the popular website Small Biz Survival on small town business, and she and Sheila Scarborough co-founded Tourism Currents to teach tourism professionals new ways of marketing their destination. Her professional life is clearly an example of Small Town Rule #3: Multiply Your Lines of Income.

5 Responses to Small town business has a lot to teach any business

  • I love Becky. I first saw her name on a Chris Brogan blog post in 2008ish (though he started writing about her much earlier). I just revisited a 2010 blog post I wrote about her; and I’m now sparked to revise that three years later.

    Becky not only understands small towns, tourism, and how social media makes everything matter, but she lives it. Great woman. Thanks for bringing her to your blog, Phil.

    • My pleasure Ari! Becky is a true gem – and someone I frequently learn from and am inspired by.

      I appreciate your comment and your readership. Can’t wait to meet YOU one day soon!!

  • You are so on target here! I am privileged enough to be a small towner and also a media marketer. You better believe I take these ‘down home’ practices and attitude into my online consulting business. It pays off every time, for everyone involved!

  • This is so timely. Thanks for sharing this Phil. I really like the idea of farming seasons for business rather than thinking of my year with swings in billing. The farming seasons mindset gives extra meaning to the “winter” season when billing is typically slowest.

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