A billion dollar business

When small town businesses prosper, they help their communities prosper. For example, LL Bean has built a billion and a half dollar business while keeping their headquarters in the small town of Freeport, Maine. Freeport has prospered right along with LL Bean for the last 100 years.

Sometimes examples like that are more intimidating than helpful. I mean, it’s great that LL Bean and Freeport are doing well, but I’m just me, and my business isn’t LL Bean.


You don’t have to be a billion dollar business to matter. You don’t have to be big to make a difference.

When Charles Tolbert from Baylor University researched how small businesses benefit their community, he didn’t look at 100 year old, billion dollar businesses. He looked at regular, everyday businesses like yours. They matter. You matter. 

When your business prospers, you’ll prosper. When you make more money, you’ll spend more money, and you’ll spend more of it locally. 

Tolbert’s research said small businesses are more associated with: 

  • higher average income levels
  • lower poverty levels
  • lower drop out rates
  • lower rates of death due to chronic illnesses
  • and a long list of other good things

Not because we’re billion dollar businesses, but because we’re small and involved in our communities. It’s one of the 7 biggest strengths of small town businesses.

Remember that LL Bean started out as one guy in the basement of his brother’s business, with one product. That one product turned out to be a failure, and he had to give everyone their money back. He started over with even less than he had before. 

You don’t have to be big. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be famous. You just have to be in business. 

Want to catch me in person? I’ll be speaking in North Dakota and Tennessee at the end of this month at a couple of public events that you can attend. 

  • I’ll be in Cavalier, North Dakota, for the Community Connect Forum Saturday, April 25, 2015. If you’re interested in that one, hit reply and let me know. I’ll put you in touch with the organizers. 
  • I’ll be in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the Rural Development Conference Wednesday April 29 and Thursday April 30.

Keep shaping the future of your town, 

Links of the week: 
Flexible business spaces make more entrepreneurship happen. Two examples I saw mentioned this week: