Part of our Global Entrepreneurship Week celebration Nov 13-19, 2023.
Starting a business the old way is hard
On an Idea Friendly visit to Jackson County, Kentucky, I visited with a group of artists/entrepreneurs. This group had created a loose organization called the Jackson County KY Creative Community. They wanted to start businesses, but were not ready to get a building and go through the extensive process of starting a business. Some needed to see if their work had a market and value to the customer. They felt stuck. Product and excitement, but no money to get their businesses off the ground.
Smaller steps to try first
We had gathered in an art studio in McKee, KY. There was lots of discussion around taking smaller steps to start your business.
- You could sell online in places like Etsy or eBay.
- You could ask a local business if you could have just one shelf to sell your product on.
- Or showcase your artwork on an empty wall in a place like the bank, or the insurance agents office.
- You could set up a card table at an event and sell from there.
Try using an empty lot
The group shared there was a car show coming to town soon. How could they piggyback on that event? There was an empty lot right downtown on the main highway, right across from where the cars would be parked. It wasn’t the best looking lot, it needed some attention. There was kudzu climbing the walls of buildings next to it, graffiti on the same buildings and the weeds needed some major whacking.
Kathy Spurlock owned the empty lot. I had already visited with her. I knew her time was already stretched thin, and her funds were being used for other community projects. Still, there was this empty lot waiting to be filled.
I asked her if the artists in the Jackson County KY Creative Community could possibly use it for a popup.
She said yes
The empty lot pop up was created! One artist’s husband took his weedwhacker and cleaned out an area just big enough for pop-ups. Everyone in the group spread the word a pop up was coming through social media and word of mouth. Other artists were invited. Signs were posted around the county. No one person was in charge, everyone participated as best they could.
There were many entrepreneurs set up with their works displayed. Folks came and bought from them, enjoyed the car show, and ate some food from local vendors. The Jackson County Creative Community added more artists as members too. There were lessons learned.
- You can pop up anywhere.
- It’s a good idea to join in another event and promote them both for more attendees.
- People are looking for something new and unique to do. Your excitement brings them in.
- Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes and offering this kind of small step helps create more businesses in your community.
- Business can be conducted in unusual locations and empty lots are great testing grounds.
- It’s a small step. If it doesn’t work, you haven’t lost anything.
- About the Author
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Deb Brown comes from a farm outside of Geneva, Iowa, population 141. Her heart lies in sharing the possibilities for small towns. Deb travels a lot, taking back roads when possible, and talking to the locals, sharing stories of other small towns and encouraging anyone who will listen. She’s the co-founder of www.saveyour.town and owner of Building Possibility.