Small Communities Don’t Equal Small Businesses


New York City, a city with over 8 million people. That’s 8 million men and women walking the streets, living in apartments, having kids – no matter what service you offer, there is guaranteed to be someone in the city who is eager to come on board. Owning a small business there must be cake! The streets are practically lined with potential customers just waiting to pop into your small business’s doors and buy, buy, buy.

Chadron, Nebraska, home to just under 6,000 people. A small business owner here is in a much different position than their Big Apple counterpart. Those 6,000 people have needs, sure, but how much business can you really make from that small of a community? It might not even be possible. You should probably just pack your bags and buy a bus ticket to the city, right?


Small communities aren’t necessarily small markets. And think of the competition in New York! The grass is always greener unless you stop, make a plan, and focus on watering your lawn. Here are the top three ways you can effectively improve your ability to run your small business in a small community.

Define Your Audience

Building a business is much more than just creating a great product, stacking it on a shelf and waiting. You have to know who is going to need it, why, and where they are going when they realize they need it. Take the time to sit down and develop a clear, concise (1 or maybe 2 sentences only!) description of your ideal client. Then, follow that ideal client from the time they first search for the service or product to the final purchase and beyond. For example, do they start by searching on Google? Or by asking their friends? And once they purchase the product, where do they go next? Are there natural business partners in your area you can partner up with to increase sales? 

Ask for Great Referrals (by name!)

This is something a lot of people fear. Asking their friends and family to connect them with potential clients and customer can be awkward enough but most people can struggle through it (if you haven’t leveraged this group, stop reading right now, get on Facebook and reach out!). However, asking clients to refer future business to you is just not ok. Well, I’m here to tell you it is. It might seem uncouth, but it is a commonly accepted business practice and, if you are selling a great product (we’ll get to this soon) then your clients will want to share it with their networks. What they don’t know how to do is sell you. Train your customers to be your own personal external sales team by telling them about your ideal customer and, whenever possible sharing a name of an individual you would like to connect with in the future. Who knows, maybe that hotel owner who is using vacuum cleaners from the 1960s is his cousin’s wife and he is going to see her at a barbecue on Saturday! For a vacuum salesman, that is a life changing opportunity right there. Don’t miss it because you are shy.

Think of the Customer

This is the most important and the easiest to describe. Think about your customer throughout every step of the process when you are creating a product and keep them in mind whenever you have a big decision to make. Your customers are going to be everything for you, your sales rely on them and they might just be your best sales people too! So, make sure you do everything possible to provide thoughtful, first-rate service every time. And show them you care by sending cards or small notes around the holidays and birthdays if you can. It goes a long way, especially in a small town.