According to Webster’s Dictionary (yes, I have one on my desk) Community is ‘people living in the same area – an interacting population of various individuals in a single location’
A community can be your town, your street, your church, school, your coffee klatch, your business, rodeo family.. Whatever.
Community = people.
But what does that really mean? Think about community – or how a lack of community – affects us.
For instance, have you ever felt isolated in a crowd? Or moved, but didn’t have time to reach out to your new neighbors? Or visited somewhere and had a great time, but left feeling like you never got a true sense of the place? That’s what happens when we don’t build — or somehow manage to lose — our sense of community.
What is an Intentional Act of Community?? Why it can be anything! And easy!! As simple as chatting up a stranger on the street. Knock on that new neighbor’s door, introduce yourself, and invite them to join the coffee group at the diner. Give them your phone number and encourage them to call if they need a recipe, a ride, or a cup of coffee.
Host a neighborhood potluck, movie night, old-fashioned picnic games, or whatever it takes to get people interacting and building community
It may be someone from the local Chamber (insert whatever group here) celebrating a business at random with a “Hey! Thanks for being here- we appreciate you” and giving them a handmade certificate or a confetti toss (Fun! I love confetti!)
Perhaps it is picking the weeds around the flowers at the town sign while walking the dog. Maybe it’s knowing you can count on the guy next door for a ride when you need it. It’s grabbing a paint brush and helping your neighbor paint the fence. Or baking cookies for hungry kids after sports practice…
Community is ALL OF US. In a small town that is very important. Intentional acts of community happen all the time without any fanfare, but they do make a difference. And they do not go unnoticed. ~
We were in Lovelock, NV last summer and stopped at the antique store – A gentleman that was just leaving, came back and stayed to help us get our heavy purchase into the car. That was an Intentional Act of Community.
On another trip, I stopped for gas in Reva,SD. On Mother’s Day. – the place was packed with men shopping.. The young clerk was pointing out to each man what his wife had ear-marked or mentioned would be nice. That too was an Intentional Act of Community.
Years ago, attending my first wholesale show for the bakery, Jo with MoJoRoast Coffee in Westhope ND purposefully sought us out and welcomed us to the business community.
Call it what you will — your neck-of-the-woods, territory, association, neighborhood, town, village, stomping grounds’ — the name doesn’t matter. What matters is that we are the community. ALL of us. We, collectively, are what makes our community a whole.
Are you randomly engaging in intentional acts of community of your own? If so, you GO! And if not, why not? Have you experienced some? What do YOU imagine Intentional Acts of Community look like?
We often talk about businesses working TOGETHER instead of against each other.
Here’s a perfect example of small town businesses working TOGETHER for mutual benefit.
Ault, Colorado’s Main Street is only a few blocks long. Both sides are lined with businesses. However, this community does not have an Economic Developer or a Chamber of Commerce.
Jane & Jon Boutique, Flip-n-Vintage and JRs Antiques Etc work together often co-promoting joint events. They also have FUN with it! WHY? Because they know the value of cooperation and collaboration. They are happy to share resources, and none are afraid to send a customer up the street to another business if they do not carry what the customer wants.
The success of their neighbors affects their own livelihoods
Each of these businesses carries some similar items- JR’s and Flip-n-Vintage both have antique glassware- but different specialties. They all have clothing- but different styles and some are new and some vintage.
Having an idea of what each business in your community- and not hesitating to use that knowledge- makes for a better, stronger Main Street and makes customers, locals and visitors feel welcome and valued.
How are YOU working with other businesses? Share your stories with us!
Katy is a motivational speaker with Tait and Kate Consulting, writer & two-lane traveler helping to enhance the economic vitality of rural communities and Main Streets. Interested in having Katy or Annette speak at an event? Drop us a line and see what we can do for you.
A handshake. Such a simple gesture, and yet it can say so much. Beginning as a symbol of peace in the 5th century BC, the handshake quickly evolved to mean a greeting or parting, good sportsmanship, a business deal, trust, respect and so much more.
Sadly I have noticed a lack of handshakes (or at least heartfelt ones anyway). This has been painfully obvious when dealing with 'youngers' in business situations.
Why is that I wonder? Is it because we've become so 'social' that we no longer interact like we once did? Is it because as some doctors claim "we shouldn't because you may get sick?" Is it simply that this next generation isn't being taught the value of a handshake? I do not know the answers, I just know that it is not as common as it once was and I miss it.
Most recently I witnessed an exchange between a 20-something and an older ‘boomer’- The Boomer was arranging to do business with XYZ company and would be parting with Ten’s of thousands of dollars. The 20 something managed nearly the entire conversation with his hand in his pockets and not even a handshake by way of introduction, thanks or it’s a deal.
I was actually embarrassed for the gentleman when his extended hand was ignored.
(Had that been me, I may have reconsidered my options and taken my business down the road)
(Nearly every single person I went to grade school learned the value of a handshake at a very young age. It was taught at home as something you do.)
Experts at the University of Iowa have declared handshakes “more important than agreeableness, conscientiousness, or emotional stability.” Other studies show that a handshake improves the quality of interactions and produces a higher degree of trust almost instantaneously.
It doesn't matter how expensive your clothes, your watch, phone or car are. If your handshake is bad or non-existent, your customers first impression will be diminished.
-A good handshake will do far more for you any day of the week.
A handshake is the number one, cost free, most powerful tool in marketing anything. It costs you nothing to smile and shake someone’s hand. A handshake is the beginning of a relationship in business. Hopefully a relationship that will continue for years!
**Let me just say right here that while us girls were also taught the importance, it was not necessarily expected. In some countries shaking hands with women is frowned upon. It is not personal- simply a cultural difference. Many women my age and older will shake, but we tend to do it with two hands- a ‘hand-hug’.
I was brought up that a deal requires a handshake and everything else is a hand hug.
Your handshake is your word. It means something.
Shop Small Saturday is Nov 24th.
If you haven't already taken advantage of all the FREE marketing materials offered by American Express, now is a great time to sign up!
The Shop Small Saturday campaign was first launched in 2010 as a way help small businesses gain more recognition and to change consumers mindsets back to supporting 'local'.
Since then hundreds of thousands of businesses have taken advantage of the Shop Small / Shop Local movement. Whole communities and individual stores have special events. Everything from tying it in with an annual Santa Day Parade, to moonlight madness. The ideas are endless your imagination!
Annette and I have been "Community Champions" since the beginning. Each year we receive a giant goodie box from ShopSmallSaturday and distribute the items around to local businesses and help them with creative planning to make the most of the day. It is a pleasure and privilege for us to help other businesses. This year is no exception.
FREE! FREE! FREE!
FREE online listing for your business or community.
FREE ready made marketing materials- signage, banners, bins, pens, doggie bandanas and more
FREE customizable marketing materials
FREE inspiration!- Check out the ShopSmall Blog
FREE event flyers and check list
Have FUN with it! Make it a community event... Yes- we know, small businesses have to be particularly creative in holiday marketing. Trying get your slice of the available dollars isn't always easy. Partly, by clinging to the perception is that "everybody" goes to XYZ town to shop, some small businesses hamstring themselves.
Be Crazy! Be Creative! Involve everybody! Start spreading the word. Shop Small CAN easily be used year round and customized to suit the season and your particular needs.
And remember- Shop Small applies to ALL businesses. The local café/bar, the hardware store, plumber, barber, accountant, gas station... well- you get the idea.
Who says small towns don't have anything to offer? Certainly not us! For years, we have championed small towns across North Dakota and beyond.
We had nominated Regan- pop 44- as a Main Street Community over a year ago. (Regan is where part of our farm is) And... Drum Roll.... The Governors office called and said they would LIKE A TOUR! Now what?
I can tell you it would have been great to have still had a party line! It would have made contacting people so much faster.
When Governor Burgum took office he implemented a Main Street Initiative. This is based on three 'main pillars of success'- Smart Infrastructure, Skilled Workforce and Vibrant Main Streets.
This effectively ruled out nearly all the micro-sized communities- because the above requires a population!
We never felt that a lack of people made any of these small towns in North Dakota any less important to the health and greatness of the state.
In just a matter of days we had most things up and ready to go. The tour was organized, food and coffee lined up, phone calls made.
There were some funny moments- like the stunned silence when it was mentioned that 'they' were bringing a passenger bus for the tour... (keep in mind Regan only has 44 people)
Are you wondering what we showed the good folks from the state??
Regan does have more than meets the eye! Read all about it here: Everything but a Starbucks.
Mayor Gillig led the tour talking about the history of Regan and wants and needs. The visitors were shown the historic jail, the school house turned event center, Old Main Street and more.
The locals shared many fabulous ideas. One of the best ideas was to someday have a local sporting center/gym. This would be ideal because Regan is centrally located between two towns with schools that need somewhere to train for sports. Other good ideas were listing Main Street on the Film Makers Association site for a location site and using the commercial kitchen in the old school as a business incubator.
The listening session was awesome! The ideas, and the information available was perfect for Regan. Many (ok most) had no idea there were so many programs offered through the state to help with start-ups, funding, building , expansion, housing and more. A personal Thank You to Emily at the Department of Commerce for bringing a printed copy of ALL the resources for Mayor Gillig who is NOT online at all.
Regan has survived over 100 years a community and is an example to other small and micro-sized communities that every community, no matter how small, has something to offer. Regan has also shown tremendous small town pride and a willingness to not settle, to not be complacent, but to continually try to find ways to reach to the future.
We would say Regan's Main Street Summit was a roaring success!
Read the full AgWeek Magazine version here: "Where there's a will"
Ever heard the old adage, “One to start it, one to grow it, one to lose it”? We’re guessing it was meant to represent the generations of a family business.
Normally “succession planning” means having a buy-in (or maybe a buy-out, sweat equity, inheriting or whatever) plan. But along with the plan comes the hard part -- the part where, like it or not, we must accept that our successors will do things differently than we did.
They’ll have new ideas and want to try new things.(gasp!) My father-in-law had different ideas about how to farm than his father, as did my husband from his dad, and now it’s our son’s turn to vex us. (Paybacks, eh?)
How we achieve the goal of handing off the family business -- no matter what kind of business it is -- is part of the equation.
Dude’s Steakhouse and Branding Iron Bar in Sidney, Neb., was opened by Dude and Florence Julinek in 1952. Fast forward 65 years -- yes, you read that right – Sixty. Five. YEARS in business, run by the same family. That’s a danged impressive feat.
Now Sarah and Joey, and Jenni (Joey's sister)the third generation, run Dude’s.
We had the pleasure of visiting with them on a stay-over in Sidney a while back. While they freely admit it hasn’t always been easy, they also acknowledge that taking over the legacy and putting their own touches on it has been rewarding.
(Read more about Dudes here)
During our visit, we talked about their school-age children, and if those children were poised to take over from Sarah and Joey. Their answer? “Time will tell...”
They want their children to “want it” when they’re old enough, and not take over because they think they “have to.” Want to vs. have to -- that’s another part of graciously handing over the reins
What IF kiddos don’t want it? Or if they’re only doing it because they feel obligated? Will resentment build because they feel forced to follow your path instead their own stars?
In a small community the decision may be even harder.
The pressure is on, because no one wants to disappoint the people who depend on that business to continue to be there -- all the people who watched you grow up working in that business.
Which brings us back to the point -- succession means different things to different people. Perhaps Sarah’s and Joey’s children may have different ideas of what works for them and for Dude’s. Maybe they’ll decide it means only being open for dinners. And who knows? That may work for them.
Spelling aside, “succession” and “success” are two different words. Just because one buys into or inherits the family business, there’s no guarantee of continued success.
When we hand off “our baby” that we nurtured and watched grow through trials and triumphs, it’s hard to step back. It’s hard to relinquish control, to not dictate or say “we’ve always done it like that.”
And it’s doubly hard to not step on toes as our successors make their own mistakes and learn from them. We made our own mistakes and they need to make theirs, no matter how much we’d like to save them from the experience.
Each generation has its own idea of what will work and what won’t, and how to achieve their goals. And it’s up to us -- the ones handing off -- to accept that there will be changes.
We may not like them any more than our folks liked ours, but accept them we must. After all, those changes may be what stops the next one from “losing it.”
~Katy and Annette~
**This article will appear in an upcoming AGWEEK Magazine. - On a personal note- My husband and I LOVE this place. The history, the vibe, the incredible food. Dudes truly embraces the spirit of the west.
Annette & Kate
If it involves small towns, rural, business or people, we write about it. Both the good and the bad. Part of our passion is helping you be the best you can be.