I spent a couple of days last month touring Lake Arrowhead, California, meeting merchants and retailers, talking to residents, and holding a work session with the board of the Village Merchants Association. They have a ton of natural assets, great ideas, but have trouble getting the merchants to come together toward common goals. They’ve struggled to build a sense of community.
Many of you have the same challenge: getting local business owners to work together.
We talked about a couple of basic things, like making a current list of the store owners and managers so they can stay in touch. But the idea that really got them excited was a block party for the merchants. They just lit up! They knew just the right spot in the center of the village, and ideas started flying.
Building community among your business owners is just as important as building community at large.
It’s hard to get people to attend regular meetings when they don’t feel connected, especially when meetings have felt boring or pointless in the past.
But it’s easier to get people to come to a party!
It doesn’t have to be a block party. It can be other simple things:
- Jam sessions for similar businesses (one for food and drink, one for retail…)
- Private Facebook groups
- Sharing supplies or resources
Get together with a few local business folks and see what you come up with. Use all your skills in building community like you would with any other group.
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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.