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Big Cities and Small Towns

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How big city businesses lost the very qualities they need to survive today
…and how small town business people can help get it back.

A business fairy tale, of sorts.

Once upon a time, big cities were filled with small neighborhood businesses. They survived by treating every customer as an individual, by being frugal, by looking long term, by having ties to the local community and by expecting hard times. Then bigger and bigger businesses took over the cities. Swelled by an always-up economy, efficiency of scale and customers who became a mass market. Small neighborhood businesses were mostly lost, driven out, absorbed, limited, or pushed to the margins.

Then Change came. The economy lost its certainty, technology made scale seem irrelevant, and customers turned their back on the mass market to become more local. The qualities the businesses needed now were completely different than what they had grown big with. They struggled to figure out what might work now.

It turns out, that away from the big cities, the small neighborhood businesses still exist, in small towns. They still survive by treating every customer as an individual, by being frugal, by looking long term, by having ties to the local community and by expecting hard times. Plus they’ve added some newer survival skills: managing multiple lines of income to reduce risk, and the secret of growing big while staying small. These are the small town businesses of today, with the very skills that big businesses need to cope with the massive Change in the economy, technology and society.

Today, the businesses that are struggling with Change can turn to small towns and their most successful small businesses to learn what works. Barry Moltz and I put together our experiences from small towns, big cities, big businesses and small businesses. We will be talking about this at BlogWorld Expo New York on Wednesday at 3:45 in Room 1A21 during our session, Small Town Rules: How Big Brands and Small Business Can Prosper in A Connected Economy. It won’t be in fairy tale style, but it will be entertaining.

Becky McCray is a recognized expert in small business and social media. She and Chicago entrepreneur Barry Moltz are the co-authors of the book Small Town Rules, sharing lessons useful for urban and rural businesses. 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.


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