How a Small Town Volunteer Business Corp Could Help Save Small Businesses

by Joanne Steele on January 13, 2010

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Sitting in my favorite little restaurant last night, I was struck by the reality of the biggest problem facing small tourism business owners like my friend at the Dunsmuir Brewery.

He’s not out of enthusiasm and desire for success, or entrepreneurial spirit – he just turned an old funky eyesore of a gas station into a successful restaurant, for heaven sakes!

He’s not short on great ideas. If he is, he can go online and read blogs like mine for 10 minutes and be overwhelmed with new ones!

What he needs is a couple of hours a week of someone else’s time to get some things done! Time he doesn’t have to pay for.

Small towns are different. We understand that getting things that matter done is our responsibility. Volunteerism is the life’s blood of small towns, from clubs and town enhancement projects to government and schools.

The thing that we’ve overlooked is the value of volunteerism to our small town business community.

As this recession cuts into the profit margins of every small town business, it robs the communities themselves of the resources needed to stay vibrant or even viable. Perhaps our business communities need a shot of small town volunteerism.

I read all kinds of information online everyday – it’s part of my job serving you, the small town tourism business. What struck me this week was an article about a trend among retiring Baby Boomers to relocate to small towns.

Here’s where this article lead me – Each little community struggling to keep it’s downtown viable and it’s tourism industry functional needs a Small Town Volunteer Business Corp.

These Boomers moving to small towns to retire could volunteer a few hours a week to help a local business get their web site functioning, or redesign a brochure, or take a few good quality digital pictures, or set up a page on Facebook.

Every small business I’ve ever worked with wishes there were more hours in a day. This is a way to make that happen.

Here’s a job for every small town chamber of commerce. Set up your own town’s volunteer business corp. Make sure that every volunteer understands that it’s not about giving a business owner more good ideas. It’s about helping to implement one of the zillion ideas that they already have.

Our small town businesses are the foundation of our communities. Without them we’re nothing more than a bedroom community for some other town.

Just because they’re “for profit” doesn’t mean our small businesses are any less deserving of a few hours of volunteer time. Ultimately, it’s for the good of the whole town.

Take the idea to your chamber of commerce and see if they can help to launch a volunteer program as a service to their members.

If you had a volunteer program in your town, what could you use a volunteer for?

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