Last year at the Small Town 140 Conference, I shared a bit of a rant about how outside people see small towns and why that matters to us getting together online and in person.
If you can’t see the video, please click through to Small Biz Survival.
Here’s what I said:
Last week I opened a copy of the Chicago Tribune and saw a huge inside page dedicated to a story about the drought affecting Oklahoma and Texas and Kansas and New Mexico. And splashed across the middle of that story was a huge photo of a farmer from Oolagah, Oklahoma, in his overalls and his ball cap standing in the cracked and parched earth that is the remains of his farm pond. In short, they made him look like a hick. And he was surrounded by this story on the people who are fighting the drought, and their substandard housing, and how they are broke dirt farmers, and it kind of made the rest of us look like a hick too.
See, there’s not room in the photo to tell the story of that farmer, to explain that he probably has between one and two million dollars in assets under management. There wasn’t room to explain that in his pocket is a Blackberry and that he is constantly connected with commodity prices, that he is probably a skilled commodities trader to protect his business. There wasn’t room in the photo to talk about his understanding of commercial lending, of cash flow management, of financial statements, of all the disciplines of management that he has had to master to survive as a farmer.
There wasn’t room in that surrounding story to tell any broader of a picture of small town than just the broke dirt farmer. But there is room online and there is room here. We have room. We have room to tell a real story….
We can change some perceptions about who we are. Starting with our own. Because probably a lot of you were told the same thing I was told – ‘If you have any brains and any ambition, you will move out of the small town to the big city so that you can pursue opportunity.’ Which is wrong because today we can pursue opportunity from anywhere.
I know that getting there may be a big expense. But each year, lots of people decide it’s worth it. I can offer you a $60 discount off your ticket to the event. The code is “friendofST12” and it brings the cost of a regular ticket down to $40.
Take a look at the schedule for Small Town, and see if it doesn’t look well worth the investment to you. I’d love to meet you there!
My friend Janice Person captured that video and made a transcript, at What Can Farmers and Small Towns Gain Through Social Media? Thank you, Janice!
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.