Yesterday was the first film date for my new series “Hometown Hustle.” It’s a web-based reality show about the life and times of small business owners in rural communities. Of course, this is a deeply personal topic for me. I am a small business owner in my rural hometown – Martinsville, Virginia. Having been a business owner in Detroit, Michigan, New York, New York and Los Angeles, California, I can say without a doubt that the journey is quite different based on a community’s size. None of my entrepreneurial experiences have been alike, but this has been remarkably different – in some great and challenging ways.
I was inspired to create “Hometown Hustle” after meeting becoming very involved with some local small business organizations and attending a number of networking events/workshops. I learned that while we all had unique businesses and business models, many of our challenges were the same. Most of us struggled to identify and secure awesome staff members, maximize the use of technology to expand our businesses and keep profits up and expenses each year. Large corporate entities fight the same battles, the only difference is, if they lose one good employee a beat is likely not skipped. However, in a small business, one staff member out of the game could mean a critically important operation comes to a screeching halt.
As I was rolling the idea of “Hometown Hustle” around in my mind, I also thought about all the shows I watch on entrepreneurship. 99.9% showcase businesses in larger cities. Rural communities are often overlooked when producers set out to feature the value and importance of small business. I definitely wanted to change that narrative as I know all too well the big investment small businesses make in a small community. I played parks and recreation softball and basketball over the years and we always had some little mom and pop business donating money, so we’d have uniforms (truthfully, they were just t-shirts). Nevertheless, small business owners in small towns step up to the plate in so many ways to support community activities and great causes. #KUDOS
Before I had my own business or could spell entrepreneurship, I was knee deep in the trenches with my dad and our family business. Stocking canned foods was my specialty, but I was also a great sweeper, duster and gas pumper. (Please note I pumped gas on a manual stop pump and my dad was a stickler about not going over by even a penny!). I spent countless weekends and summers earning my keep – paid in snacks and incredible life lessons.
I will forever hold on to those moments and am thrilled that other entrepreneurs in Martinsville-Henry County agreed to share their candid stories about the rollercoaster ride of being a business owner. While we are in production, my #MondayMotivation blogs will be all about the small-town entrepreneurial journey and nuggets gathered from this season’s cast. As always, stay tuned!