What can you learn from a small town?

Turns out, quite a bit.

The whole concept of having a marketplace is blurry today.  It used to be — you sold stuff to your neighbors because they were the only ones close enough to buy from you.

But today the world is one “global small town” where all your customers can talk directly to each other and every one of them can buy from you or from the guy on the other side of the planet.

In their book Small Town Rules (click to buy it on Amazon*) authors Becky McCray and Barry Moltz take a look at what works in a small town and help us understand how those same rules apply to us, whether we are a big fish in a little pond or a tiny fish in a huge pond.

The truth is — size, scale, and resources are no guarantee of success anymore.  Who would have thought Tom’s could have created enough buzz and passion that they become the worldwide sensation that they are today?

Today more than ever before it’s about how you build relationships, trust and compelling word of mouth.  And no one knows how to do that better than a local shopkeep.

Barry and Becky tell great stories, offer up plenty of examples but best of all — give us seven rules to learn and follow, no matter how big or how local your business is.

1. Plan for zero. Planning for zero income requires building new sources of revenue and all kinds of different equity.

2. Spend creative brainpower before spending dollars. This protects you from doing something just because everyone else is… and let’s you introduce your customers to the real you.

3. Multiply lines of income to diversify your risk. That way if one stream runs dry, the others keep things flowing.

4. Work anywhere, anywhen through technology. We have new expectations and tolerance for how and when we get responses from companies.

5. Treat customers like community. Make them feel valued, special and like an insider.

6. Be proud of being small. Small and nimble is the new big.

7. Build your local connections. Making connections that count help you accomplish the first 6 rules because you quickly learn that you can’t do it alone.

This book is a great read for anyone who is running a business — anywhere.  Turns out we all have a lot we can learn from those small towns.


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  1. says

    Drew, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on Small Town Rules. You really caught the essence of our thinking. It amazes me still how much the world has changed into that “global small town.”

  2. Betsy Kline says

    I know that we moved to a small town just three years ago and it was a big eye opener. I grew up in a big city and was surprised that people here were helpful, friendly and actually wanted to talk to you. We are a farming community too, so most people here farm and do other odd jobs to make ends meat – I have definitely learned a lot from my short time being here.

  3. Robert Corio says

    Hey Drew! Thank you for this article as it was a great read. Would you have suggestions for small companies in the Information Technology sector?

    Thank you.


  4. says

    Thanks for sharing Drew! I think it’s fascinating that as the world gets bigger it’s like it’s actually getting smaller. People think technology is making us less inclined to interact with other people, but really it’s just giving us a chance to interact with people we might never have contacted, potentially on even more intimate levels.

  5. says

    Hi Drew. Yes, start from your own backyard, learn to love your own. “Be proud of being small. Small and nimble is the new big.” I like that. These days, there’s no shame in being small because no one is too small to make a contribution for their businesses.

  6. says

    Hello there Drew, this is such a wonderful advice coming from you. Will be planning to do some great research about this one too. Very helpful and nice topic. Thanks for sharing this one! More success!

  7. Alina Smith says

    Hi Drew !
    Very interesting and loving information. Got new things to learn about small town. More success !

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