By Rieva Lesonsky

When the economy took a dive in 2008, did your nerve go with it? Are you still struggling with how your small business can recover from the effects of the Great Recession—not to mention the rapidly changing pace of technology and social media that seems to make old ways of doing business obsolete? Not to worry. Your small business can not only survive, but also thrive—if you take a lesson from the way small business owners in America’s small towns have been doing it for centuries.

Barry Moltz and Becky McCray tell you how in Small Town Rules: How Big Brands and Small Businesses Can Prosper in a Connected Economy. Major changes in society, technology and the U.S. economy have combined to put people’s focus back on the local and personal. As a result, Moltz and McCray say, both big and small businesses need to engage with customers on the local and personal level if they want to succeed. In Small Town Rules, the authors share their advice for how big and small business owners alike can learn from the tactics that small town entrepreneurs have always used.

Moltz and McCray know what they’re talking about: McCray is a small town entrepreneur whose blog, Small Biz Survival, focuses on small town business; Moltz is a serial small business owner and author. Small Town Rules focuses on the economic and how businesses can deal with the changes in the U.S. economy. Noting that small business owners in rural areas have long known how to do more with less, plan for disasters and live through tough times, they share a variety of ways that small business owners anywhere can be more creative and use their brains (instead of their wallets) to effectively market their businesses. Like small town residents, who frequently work more than one job, smart small business owners set up multiple income streams to keep the cash flowing.

Then McCray and Moltz examine how technology is changing the face of business and marketing. The spread of remote and virtual work is removing any advantage businesses once enjoyed by being in specific locations, while online shopping, social media and reviews are redefining the sense of “community” that once attached to place. Small Town Rules explains how your business can profit from these changes.

Last, but not least, Small Town Rules discusses the growing interest in social responsibility, buying local and “thinking small” that’s redefining how Americans shop. With global companies focusing on their local impacts and how their brands affect the planet, small businesses surely need to do the same.

This book is full of plenty of ideas for creative financing, staffing and marketing. Each chapter ends with a quick summary, checklist of rules and a look ahead to whether these rules will be relevant in the future.

If you need some encouragement, Small Town Rules has it in spades. By noting that small businesses in rural towns have always overcome adverse conditions, the authors give small business owners a sense of hope that change isn’t necessarily for the worse—it can also be for the better. Small is beautiful, indeed.

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