On a recent call, Janet Soto from Oregon picked out 6 themes from what I’ve written about lately that she felt were exactly what Oregon small towns most needed to hear as they work on entrepreneurship.
- There are positive trends for small towns. It doesn’t matter what the numbers say about us, what negative story others are telling, what narrative of need or lack gets spread around. What matters is what we do with the opportunities coming our way. Small towns have a future.
- It’s time to get creative with building community. People tend to turn to their traditional officials and formal organizations when they want to get something done. They look first to the same ten people. We have a huge potential in untapped community. It’s time to Gather Our Crowd.
- We can break the rules. The rules that are holding us back the most were written when everything was going right for us. If nothing is working now, it’s time to break the rules. Pay the fine and do it anyway.
- The attributes of leaders and leadership have changed. You may not think you qualify as a leader because you don’t hold an official title or role. You’re here, so you’re the right person. You’re automatically leading when you plant a flag in the kind of town you want to create.
- You have more capacity than you realize. The reason you keep running into issues of not enough people, time or money is that you’re still stuck in old models of organization, formality and officials. Big goals are great to draw people in, but they make a lousy starting point for action. When you are Idea Friendly, you know that you have more than enough to Take Small Steps and get started.
- Welcome the new people in your community. We all have new residents, people that move to town, immigrants and in-migrants. Iowa State University spent 20 years establishing that new people bring new ideas to leadership roles and that helps small towns prosper. If you restrict leadership to formal roles and official positions, you’re keeping new people out. When you’re Idea Friendly, you know that all ideas are good enough to test, no matter who is planting that flag.
What ideas stand out to you lately? Did Janet miss a big theme that matters to you?
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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.