We recently moved from the busy hustle-bustle of the City of Vancouver to a town so small it only has a flashing red light (not green or yellow lights, which is representational of the town’s sleepy vibe.) The move was the best decision we have ever made, and we are both super happy with the home and the future we are building here in the Okanagan. But moving to a new area only six months after launching my business (this business) had jarring effects on the operations.
Before launching Kelp Forest Commerce, I was working freelance for myself for a few years. I had a small clientele that I could sort of count on to give me the occasional day of work, and the market was saturated with opportunities. I felt hopeful launching my business in this busy city-setting and could rely on my repeat clients from freelancing to keep me afloat. Moving to the country was a risk because I didn't have any clients in this area and I would be losing the few jobs that require me to be there in person. But I knew that the interior was ripe with entrepreneurs, and I was sure that there would be small businesses that I could help grow. So we made the move, and I made the adjustment.
Go with the flow
The thing that I noticed right away was that the community of surrounding small towns had an entirely different way of operating and networking. In the city, I would often write emails to small businesses, and maybe follow up on social media later. I was finding no success with that strategy in this community but found that sending a quick and personal facebook message was a really responsive way to reach out. Since moving a few months ago I have flipped my marketing strategy on its head, and at first, this was very intimidating. It was new, it was unknown and it was totally worth trying.
Find your Community
Before I moved, the community I was trying to build was everyone. I would try to be inclusive to 'local businesses', wherever on the map they were. This attempt at being inclusive made it hard for me to find my voice within my brand. I was trying to appeal to everyone within the small business realm and lacked the focus of who I really was within the brand’s voice. Once I started to settle in a smaller community, I started following actual local artists and businesses, and started unfollowing brands that are not relevant, local, or inspiring me directly.
Localizing my brand helped me to clarify my business’s voice and direction online. I was already using so many local products, they were right in front of me the whole time. By focusing on promoting local businesses to me, as opposed to local businesses I found on Instagram, I feel like I have successfully started integrating myself into a community that has real potential for authentic engagement and future clients.
Big changes are very intimidating, but understanding that there will be a (possibly severe) learning curve can help to prepare you for the adjustment. Knowing it is temporary, and that you hard and consistent work will pay off can be the underlining motivation you need to make you successful in your challenges.