If you're building a business in a small town, you know how tough it can be: not only can it be difficult to find new customers within your geographic region, but you also lack the resources and connections you might find in New York or Silicon Valley. Building a powerful network of connections takes effort and patience, but it could make all the difference in whether your business flounders or reaches new audiences beyond your area.
Eight entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) offer their best advice for building a thriving business, and making the most of your resources in a smaller community.
1. Ask civic leaders how you can help them.
Engage with the leaders of your community and learn where they are struggling. Is it real estate development? Is it attracting new businesses into the city? Is it redevelopment of civic infrastructure? Get engaged with their issues and help them achieve their goals. - Lane Campbell, Creately
2. Build authentic relationships.
Small towns are all about relationships. Authentically care about building the community, offer any valuable insights and resources you have in a genuine way, and show your support for the issues they care about. This always elicits trust, bonding, and reciprocal engagement opportunities where you can do more than just share resources -- you can change the community for the better. - Jenny Kincaid, Mind Above Matter, LLC
3. Leverage social media channels and search engines.
So many social media sites now provide recommendations tied to your location, while search engines like Google also help you hone in on local resources that could help you build your brand. This includes local influencers, marketers and freelancers that you may not realize are in your area. Thanks to geolocation, you can find those resources. - Drew Hendricks, Buttercup
4. Join co-working communities.
Co-working spaces are becoming increasingly popular, even in small towns. Join as many as you can and use them as networking opportunities. Spending a day out of the office at a co-working space helps to keep you fresh, and also presents you with opportunities to make new connections and build relationships that can help establish your brand, even in the smallest of towns. - Marc Lobliner, TigerFitness.com
5. Join an accelerator.
There are so many accelerator programs that will fund you for five months and incorporate your business into their ecosystem. You'll emerge with a better network and a recognizable seal of approval, which is invaluable in the early days. Getting in isn't easy, but then again, neither is anything else about the startup world. - Hongwei Liu, mappedin
6. Navigate online courses.
The internet has brought the offline world online. You'd be amazed to find out how many courses and e-conferences in your field are offered online. A quick Google search will let you know who hosts them, how often, and how you can get involved. Resources like tenthousandcoffees.com are also great for getting in contact and networking with professionals in your field without having to book a flight. - Rakia Reynolds, Skai Blue Media
7. Join local chambers and local community service groups.
If you are in a small town, I highly recommend you join local chambers, lead groups, local non-profit organization and other groups. Create relationships with other business leaders locally, in addition to C-level executive leaders who are board members of nonprofits. We are a digital agency and have gotten a lot of brand recognition because we are active locally. - Shalyn Dever, Chatter Buzz
8. Become a community advocate.
There's no better way to find resources than to help create them. Advocate for your community and help to bring in the businesses and partners you need to succeed. You'll be improving local economy, helping to improve employment and making those resources available for other businesses that need them. Be proactive; always be a leader. - Blair Thomas, First American Merchant