Sitting in front of your computer, or holding your smartphone, you can be at a loss for words, or unsure of your direction.
One way to get past that lost feeling is to pretend you are the owner of a small town store. Now, this is easy for me because I own a retail store in a small town, but you can imagine it, too.
1. Build Connections
Small town business owners spend a lot of their time talking one on one with customers, building connections. This is the opposite of the usual approach of broadcasting a message to a crowd. You can spend more of your online time focused on one on one interaction, talking with individual potential customers, building community. When you take this approach, you’ll never ignore a customer talking about you. You’ll always be friendly and respond. You’ll say hello, good morning, and how are you.
2. Get Involved
Small town business owners get involved in their communities. They participate in community projects, and they show up for events. You can do this online, too. Show up for online events like webinars and Twitter chats. Participate in community projects, like fund raisers and group writing projects.
3. Think Long Term
Small town business owners stay for the long term. They get to know everyone in town, sometimes for generations. You can do this online. Don’t just hit and run, dropping an ad on a network and never returning or never interacting. Think about building a little storefront there long term. Most people tend to be too quick to chase the next shiny thing or new network, so better for you to tend to be a long term member of a community.
4. Be Honest
Small town business owners are honest. If you drop a $20 bill in their store, they’ll return it to you. You should be just as honest online. Don’t shade the truth or hide behind anonymity. Presume any dishonesty will be found out, just like it would in a small town.
5. Look Out for Your Community
Small town business owners watch out for their community and their neighbors. You can, too, online. If you hear of a job opportunity or a client that isn’t a good match for you, pass the opportunity along. If you know of a bad deal, give others a warning.
6. Be Helpful
Small town business owners are helpful. They’ll carry your purchases to your car, keep the items you like as a special favor, and some will even go so far as to offer to take in a competitor who lost their building in a fire. You can benefit from a helpful attitude online. Answer questions and share useful information. You don’t have to give away your work for free, but you can always have a helpful attitude.
There’s a lot more I could say about how to act like a small town business owner, but I bet you have the idea now. So, open up your own little store in your mind, and start acting like a small town business owner, if you want to succeed.
This fabulous Guest Post is by Becky McCray.
Becky McCray shares more lessons useful for urban and rural business in the new book, Small Town Rules http://smalltownrules.com 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 http://smallbizsurvival.com 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.
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