Home > Articles > Business & Management > Finance & Investing

Small Town Rules: How Three Major Shifts Created a Small Town Environment for All Business

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter explains the concept behind and contents of the book Small Town Rules.
This chapter is from the book

The customers of every company now behave like they live in a small town. As a result, companies now need to play by a new set of rules: small town rules. These new rules apply to small businesses and big brands alike, no matter how big or how urban. Not surprisingly, few people know about these small town rules. However, it is possible to look at what has made small town entrepreneurs successful and apply those rules to every company. For the first time, this book connects the three major shifts that create a small town environment for all business and then teaches the small town rules that help people and companies thrive in this new environment.

Small town doesn’t just mean small business or small numbers. Many familiar big brands started in small towns, including Viking Range, L.L. Bean, Sonic Drive-Ins, Longaberger Baskets, Ditch Witch trenching equipment, and Grasshopper lawnmowers. Walmart may be the single most powerful brand to come from a small town and remake the world, affecting both small businesses and huge national brands.

To understand why the small town awareness is especially relevant today, it is important to go back a few years to get perspective on these three major shifts. Remember the economy before 2008? It felt like the stock market always went up, investments always increased in value, and the price of homes always went higher. Back then, there were commercials on TV telling people to mortgage their house, cash out some equity, jump on a hot stock, or join a country club. But, all that has changed.

Economic carnage rocked the financial stability of society with high unemployment rates, tight credit, lower consumer demand, and fewer available resources. At the same time, technology has continued to advance, allowing people to collaborate effectively and instantaneously over great distances and not be tied to a single geographic area. This compounds the effect on society, and shifts people’s attention and trust away from multinational corporations toward small and local companies.

Why Look to Small Towns Now?

As a result of these three shifts—society, technology, and the economy—all businesses now face circumstances that feel much like a small town. Small towns have been making parallel shifts over the last century. Innumerable small business people have tried everything they could to survive and thrive within the limits of small towns. The best ones have a reputation for knowing every customer personally and for catering to their customers. That’s the public part of successful small-town businesses, but there are many more strategies and tactics behind the scenes: managing multiple lines of income, thinking long term, maintaining frugality, creating community, and building local connections. All seven of these small town rules are included in the seven chapters in this book.

Because small towns are commonly seen as sleepy, slow-moving, and behind the times, few business experts have looked to small town entrepreneurs for lessons. That makes Becky and Barry the exceptions. Barry spoke often in small cities and towns, and he learned that savvy business people exist all over. Becky grew up in a family of small town entrepreneurs, and her work has brought her in contact with hundreds of others. She knows the secrets of small town entrepreneurs inside and out.

Looking closely at small town business and at big city business, this book describes three tectonic shifts: the economy, technology, and society. Each chapter explains one aspect of the change and explains why rural business has relevant insight into that change. The small town rule is explained and adapted to work with any business, and examples are pulled from both rural and urban businesses. The applications for big brands are highlighted, along with some special brand examples. Each chapter concludes with a discussion about whether the change is a permanent shift.

Chapters 1–3: The Change in the Economy

The economic shift was felt like a physical blow. There are big parallels in the national economic transition and the transitions in the rural economy over the last 100 years. Small towns have dealt with limited resources, tight lending, and scarce jobs for a long time. Chapter 1, “Surviving Difficult Economic Times for the Big and Small,” deals with surviving difficult economic times by planning for times when income or growth is zero. Rural regions have turned disasters into opportunities, or at least they have learned to prepare for them and take a long-term perspective. Chapter 2, “The New Normal: Profiting When Resources Are Limited,” shows that profiting when resources are limited requires spending brainpower before spending dollars. Those limited resources lead to more creative and resilient businesses. Chapter 3, “Adapting to the New Economic Realities of Self-Reliance,” teaches businesses and professionals how to adapt to the new economic realities of self-reliance by multiplying lines of income. Brands have to think about brand extension versus brand dilution.

Chapters 4–5: The Change in Technology

The transition in technology also pushes businesses toward small town rules. Chapter 4, “Adapting to the ‘Anywhere, Anywhen’ Business World,” explains geographic advantage and how it disappeared. Working remotely continues to gain ground, even in the largest corporations. The cost of the technology to work anywhere has dropped, until almost any business can use it. Chapter 5, “Forget Advertising: Learn Customer-Driven Communication,” deals with community, whether the local community around a small town business or the online community around a major national brand. Online reviews of anything from motels and books to doctors and churches mean that brands can’t ignore customer voices.

Chapters 6–7: The Change in Society

The local movement is pushing a transition in society, one that looks a lot like a small town. The renewed interest in healthy neighborhoods, in shopping local, and in small businesses brings every company back to a small town environment. In Chapter 6, “How Big Brands and Small Businesses Are Thinking and Acting Small,” small is beautiful. The public trusts small businesses more than large corporations. Economies of scale are called into question by stresses on global supply chains. Some businesses have found ways to successfully stay small while still growing big. Chapter 7, “Going Local, Even When You Are Big,” explains why local matters in a global environment. With the new emphasis on all things local, what does it mean to be local as a brand? Small towns are the starting place for shop local campaigns. Every business has a chance to reconnect with its story and where it came from.

With all three of these shifts, the climate for business has been permanently changed. Just like you can never go home again, business can never go back to the way things used to be. Now, every business has to play by small town rules if it wants to thrive and prosper. And this is the only place to learn the rules.

Appendixes: Resource List and Business Ideas Inspired by Small Town Rules

Reading is easy; implementation is not. To help businesses implement the Small Town Rules, Appendix A, “Resources for Implementing the Small Town Rules,” includes resources for going more in-depth on each rule. Some resources are specifically for big brands, others for small business. All the resources relate directly to the three major shifts and the seven rules.

Appendix B, “Business Ideas Inspired by the Small Town Rules,” includes business ideas that were inspired by the small town rules. The ideas can be used by existing businesses for improvement, innovation, expansion or to change the game.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020