I use to think “they” the leaders of my community were solely responsible for the economy of my community. It was their job to create businesses and it was their job to bring in tourism. It was also their fault for the lack of jobs, housing and it was their fault my life sucks.
Then I grew up, became a blogger and then a business owner. Holy moly have my eyes been opened to the truth. In so many ways I was off my economic rocker. I was naive and uninformed. First, starting a business is hard! Besides being married and having kids, owning a business is the second hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
In my experience entrepreneurs never have only one iron in the fire. We often have four or more irons in the fire. We know most of the time the irons will not all be red hot at the same time. We know the times they all light up at one time will only last a short time. We grin and bear the extra load. Many of us have one, two or three business things going at one time to support our family and our business. The load can keep me from having a broader perspective of what is going on in my community. It can also cause me to be lazy and listen to rumors instead of going to the leaders and finding out the answers for myself. The answers are often the exact opposite of the rumors running around town.
I have learned important ways I can help Albert Lea. I can remember the big picture as I am going into client meetings, blogger and business conferences. When I go on vacation and as I am talking with other business owners. It is my job as a community member who wants to see us grow to speak highly of my town. My family needs to make sure we have a hospitable, welcoming attitude about our town everywhere we go. Inviting those I meet to come vacation in my hometown and to consider it as a possible location for their business. The responsibility to bring in businesses does not only fall to our leaders, it is also my job. I need to sing praises of why I love my town to those I am hanging out with on the golf course, in the hunting blind and while I am fishing. Many business propositions have happened not in the office, but with buddies just hanging out together. Which buddy are you going to bring to town?
Social media has given our community two storefronts. We have a physical front and a digital front. It is my responsibility to be part of the positive online conversation happening. As travelers drive by I-35 and I-90, it is my job to get my business on apps where travelers will easily be able to find us. It is my job to help introduce and entice travelers to get off the exit ramps and come explore Albert Lea.
I want to invite the business owners in my community and in the surrounding area to discover not only where your local market is hanging out on social media, but where your potential customers are hanging out. Are you creating a friendly, welcoming place to visit. When businesses work together we are able to create a whole experience for those who come off of the Interstates.
If you have questions about how you can utilize social media to its fullest, come to the Southern Minnesota Social Media Breakfast club and learn alongside other business owners. You can also ask your customers. Create a survey and give an incentive for your customers to take time to give their input. Ask your customers what you can do better and where they are hanging out on social media. No reason to guess when you can ask them.
Bottom line it is my job to introduce the world to Albert Lea, Minnesota. To spout the amazing family, friendly community I live in. Will you join me and ask yourself as we have done, who can I tell about Albert Lea?