Archive for Blog – Page 2

Chris Brogan works Anywhere, Anywhen from his small town

As we celebrate the one year anniversary of Small Town Rules and winning a 2013 Small Business Book Award, we’ve asked a few friends to share the rules that are a part of their business every day. Today, Chris Brogan tells his small town story of working anywhere, anywhen.

Every business can take advantage of the same tool, using cloud storage services like Google Docs or SkyDrive.

That implies an important safety rule, and Chris explains in this quick 1 minute video.

How a small town pastor uses Small Town Rules to go global

As we celebrate the one year anniversary of Small Town Rules and winning a 2013 Small Business Book Award, we’ve asked a few friends to share the rules that are a part of their business every day. Today, Jon Swanson explains how he uses these rules as a pastor.

Jon’s church is in a small town, but they aren’t stopping at the town limits sign. Jon details how he uses these timeless principles of business in a very non-business way. His online tools let him have a presence anywhere and anywhen, something any business can learn from.

Rule 4: Work Anywhere, Anywhen Through Technology

As we celebrate the one year anniversary of Small Town Rules and winning a 2013 Small Business Book Award, we’ve asked a few friends to share the rules that are a part of their business every day.

Portrait of Andy HayesAndy Hayes used this idea to talk about the difference between a complex business and a sophisticated business, using Rule 6: Be Proud of Being Small.

“I actually think lots of business owners make the mistake of thinking they want a big business that’s complex, when really, you just want a business that is the “right” size. Even tiny businesses can have a “sophisticated” offering – e.g. a product or service that is high-touch and high-value.”

In fact, maybe it’s time to clean out your business and simplify your offerings, Andy says.

View the quick 2 minute video here: The Difference Between a Complex and a Sophisticated Business.

Heidi Thorne uses two Small Town Rules

As we celebrate the one year anniversary of Small Town Rules and winning a 2013 Small Business Book Award, we’ve asked a few friends to share the rules that are a part of their business every day. Today, Heidi Thorne shares two examples from her business:

Portrait of Heidi Thorne“The most important Small Town Rules for me have been Rule #1 (Plan for Zero) and Rule #3 (Multiply lines of income to diversify risk).

“Rule #1: (Plan for Zero) I represented a publisher for trade newspaper advertising. Had been doing it for over 15 years. The money was pretty good and because it was 100 percent commission, I squirreled away a chunk of liquid cash in case the revenue well dried up or I decided to walk away from that business relationship. Good thing I did because within a short six months, both publisher owners passed away and not too many months later, the remaining family members folded the operation. I was planning for zero even though I didn’t call it that. But it’s a small town or big town rule that kept my doors open in the face of some tragic events.

“Rule #3: (Multiply lines of income to diversify risk) Because my business was heavily dependent on the construction industry, sales were becoming more challenging from 2009 onward. In 2011, I began exploring how I could supplement my business with other income streams. Still working on this… all the time. It does take quite a bit of resources and energy! But it’s an effort that is, just now, starting to see some small gains and is completely transforming my business into a multimedia organization. I now have about four income streams and am on the lookout for even more. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner! This must be a part of every entrepreneur’s strategic plan.

“Again, congratulations to you on this 1st Anniversary of your book. It’s an important must-read for business owners.”

Heidi Thorne, Editor & Founder

When Heidi reviewed Small Town Rules, she said one of my favorite quotes about it:

“Amid the gaggle of rah-rah follow-your-passion-the-money-will-magically-and-regularly-appear business books, this is a much needed reality check.”

Fairfield Inn promotes their “small town cool”

Lobby sign in the Fairfield Inn in Hutchinson, Kansas.

Lobby sign in the Fairfield Inn in Hutchinson, Kansas.

Fairfield Inn, a Marriott brand, is promoting its small town cool roots. This sign from the lobby of the Fairfield Inn in Hutchinson, Kansas, lays out the rural connection, right down to the horseback photo and cowboy hat.

“Fairfield Farm was J. Willard Marriott’s favorite vacation home, known for the warm welcome it provided to family and firends. This same dedication to guests and commitment to quality and service live on in Fairfield Inn and Suites today. The tradition of personal hospitality extended to guests at the Fairfield Farm is the cornerstone of every hotel, and serves as the inspiration for our Guest Promises and our Brand.”

Marriott is using the small town/rural qualities of culture and place to build the culture and sense of place in their brand. The local connection and personal hospitality are also small town traits.

My friend Rob Zazueta shares a weekly newsletter that he describes as Fascinating. You never know what topics he’ll tackle. When I read this story about Sam Adams, it was such a perfect fit for Small Town Rules, I just had to share it. –Becky 

Beer Me
To know me is to know I love beer. But not just the drinking of it – I’ve also brewed more than a few gallons in my day. Jim Koch, founder of Sam Adams, started out by brewing beer in his garage, then turned it into a national, multi-million dollar company. Though Sam Adams can seemingly be found just about everywhere, they still only control about 1% of the American beer market (or, as Koch says, “We are basically the tallest pygmy.”). They’re not my favorite brewer, but I frequently lift pints of their lagers and ales as thanks for their strong support for the community that made them a success. In addition to their annual Longshot release, which produces two recipes submitted from home brewers outside their company and one from a non-professional brewer working for the company, they have long supported small businesses and – especially – small upstart breweries with advice and funding. They have also been huge backers for a number of brew clubs around the nation, sponsoring contests and awarding fantastic prizes for the best recipes.
Becky signed Rob Zazueta's Kindle

Here’s Rob Zazueta, having Becky sign his Kindle in honor of Small Town Rules.

When I asked for permission to share this, Rob included in his reply: 
The kicker about Koch’s small town values is that, in his case, the small town is other brewers and other small businesses, so it aligns nicely with your entire philosophy – the small town is not defined so much by proximity as it is by community.

2013 Small Business Book Awards

Two big awards for Small Town Rules

1. Named one of the Best Small Business Books Published in 2012 by the National Federation of Independent Business.

Small Business Book Awards 2013

2. Named a Winner in the 2013 Small Business Book Awards:

Cleveland, OH, April 2, 2013 – Small Town Rules has been named a Winner in the 2013 Small Business Book Awards in the category of Economics.


The Small Business Book Awards celebrate the best business books that appeal to entrepreneurs, small business owners, CEOs, managers and their employees. The Awards also recognize key resources supporting business book authors and the publishing industry.


The Small Business Book Awards are more than just an honor — they include a prestigious online event in which readers, fans, book lovers and the small business community can show their support for their favorites.


Says Anita Campbell, whose company Small Business Trends founded and produced the Awards, “For many entrepreneur-authors, writing a book is a labor of love. Often they get up early in the morning before the rest of the family awakes, and they devote their evenings, weekends, holidays and vacations to writing. Likewise, the companies and professionals who support authors are dedicated to their craft and to those they serve. The winners deserve this recognition.”


“The Small Business Book Awards are a way to acknowledge the books that small business owners and entrepreneurs appreciated over the past year,” said Ivana Taylor, Book Editor at Small Business Trends, which produces the Awards.


The Small Business Book Awards for 2013 are presented with generous support “We are proud and honored to support the small business community and the Small Business Book Awards. Small business is the backbone of our economy and entrepreneurs the driving force. At Namecheap, we’ve always been a small business focused company and anything we can do to further and promote small business and the spirit of entrepreneurship is something we love being involved with,” adds Namecheap CEO Richard Kirkendall.


About the Small Business Book Awards


The 2013 Small Business Book Awards are now in their 5th year. More than just an honor, the Awards are a unique social online event that enables the small business community to nominate, show their support for, and vote on their favorite business books. The Awards combine recognition for a job well done, honors and prestige — along with providing a high-profile opportunity for authors to engage with fans, network through social media, and increase publicity. The Small Business Book Awards are produced by Small Business Trends, an award-winning online publication, which along with its sister sites, serves over 6,000,000 small business owners, stakeholders and entrepreneurs annually. Small Business Trends for the past five years has published weekend reviews of small business books, amassing hundreds of independent reviews.


Books that complement Small Town Rules

Books that complement Small Town Rules

We’re all living with a changed economy and new rules for how we do business. The major themes in Small Town Rules are recognized by many other authors, including Gary Vaynerchuk and Tony Hseih.

To round out your reading on these new rules, we’ve put together an Amazon list of complementary books:

Doing business in a changed economy, by the small town rules

1.  The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary V. comes from a family of small town business owners, and he understands the relationship base we all have to work from now. He focuses in on the element of gratitude, one we could all stand to spend more time on.

2.  Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Tony recognizes several elements of the new economy: relationships with customers and employees, personal connection, and the similarity to small town businesses.

3.  The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

Being prepared for disasters is a survival trait in today’s economy. For a view into a previous market bubble and bust cycle, look at the wheat markets of the early 1900’s and how it lead up to the Dust Bowl.

4.  A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative by Roger VonOech

Learning to question assumptions is necessary when all the old business assumptions are being disrupted. Anything from Roger von Oech is recommended to help you learn to think in different ways.

5.  How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins

Jim Collins has a terrific understanding of the need for planning for zero. There will be times, perhaps even months or years, when your income is nothing. How will your business survive? Collins knows.

6.  Lean Startup by Eric Ries

This economy calls for frugality and spending brainpower before spending money. Eric Ries shares practical experience in applying frugality to startup businesses.

7.  Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit From It by Amy Cortese

When the traditional lending dries up, businesses have to look at alternative funding sources. Cortese offers information on alternative financing, including community development financial institutions (CDFI), direct public offerings (DPO), cooperatives, and crowdfunding.

8.  Get Your Business Funded: Creative Methods for Getting the Money You Need by Steven D. Strauss

More creative funding, alternatives to bank loans. In an economy where bank loans are a certainty (certain NOT to happen), business needs other ways to get the money they need.

9.  The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Crowdsourcing by Aliza Sherman

Aliza Sherman introduces fundraising from crowds, including peer-to-peer lending, project fundraising, and for-profit funding.

10.  The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson

The changes in the world of business parallel those in the shipping world, and the changes in shipping have actually driven much of the change to the economy. The loss of geographic advantage plays out on multiple fronts in Levinson’s story.

11.  The Cluetrain Manifesto: 10th Anniversary Edition by Christopher Locke

The Manifesto declares, “A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.” This is a place where it all started.

12.  B-A-M! Bust A Myth: Delivering Customer Service in a Self-Service World by Barry J. Moltz

When almost everything is a commodity, this book shows how customer service is the new marketing. Yeah, Barry is co-author on this book, too, but it’s still a good one. ;)

13.  Online Community Management For Dummies (For Dummies (Computers)) by Deborah Ng

Today, every business finds itself in the business of building community. This is an in-depth guide to building community online for businesses, written by an experienced community manager.

14.  Rework by David Heinemeier Hansson

From an experienced business duo, this guide helps you rethink everything you think you know about business, especially about size. The idea of staying small because it’s better than growing big challenges some long held assumptions, which is exactly what needs to be done.

15.  All Business Is Local by John A. Quelch

Shop Local, Eat Local, local art, local travel, everything is local now. The local movement has the potential to be the biggest shift in society (read: your customers) in decades. Before you presume your business is ready, get a better view of how all business is reconnecting to local.

16.  All Marketing Is Local: A common Sense Approach To Marketing Your Business by John D Meyer

Another look at the importance of local in all business, this one focused on the elements of marketing. After all, every customer is local to somewhere. Is your business local?

17.  Small Town Rules: How Big Brands and Small Businesses Can Prosper in a Connected Economy (Que Biz-Tech) by Barry J. Moltz

Put all these ideas together, and you get the Small Town Rules, our own book. Plan for zero, spend your brainpower before your money, cope with anywhere/anywhen technology, learn customer-driven communication, stay small to grow big, and build local connections.
Small towns are our learning lab, and successful small town businesses are the best model to thrive today.

You can also see this list as an Amazon Listmania list and as a board on Pinterest.

Small Town Rules on the Radio

We’ve been hitting the airwaves with Small Town Rules. Here are a couple of recent radio shows.

Becky McCray on the radio with Cody Heitschmidt. Photo by Tamara Heitschmidt.

Author and small business expert Barbara Weltman featured Becky on Build Your Business Radio (

Build Your Business Radio Interview


Brian Sullivan and Pat Madden featured Becky on The Entrepreneurial Moment radio show (KCTE in the Kansas City area):

Entrepreneurial Moment Radio Interview

Longshoremen and the loss of geographic advantage


The rise of containerized shipping and intermodals has completely remade the shipping industry, and it serves as a model for the change in the entire economy.

The New York Times profiled the changes to jobs at New York area ports, in On the Waterfront, the Rise of the Machines. The old way of distributing work has “gone the way of the buffalo” one worker put it. Standard shipping containers led to automation and a complete remaking of ports, infrastructure and jobs. High cost ports find themselves subjected to a “port arbitrage” as shippers can choose to work with any number of modernized ports.

The entire economy is being remade in a similar way. All kinds of jobs and infrastructure are being remade and subjected to an economic arbitrage. It’s a threat to established patterns, but also an opportunity for new developments.

Just like there are fewer “old line” port jobs but new jobs in port construction and development of technology, old jobs in all parts of the country (and world) are being replaced by fewer jobs and more “make your own” opportunities.

[Intermodals photo by Becky McCray.]

Get a weekly dose of positivity for small communities from Becky McCray and Deb Brown, co-founders of SaveYour.Town. We share practical steps you can put into action right away.
We won’t sell or rent your email address to anyone else because we wouldn’t like that either.