Use of Online Marketing for Ag Enterprises

Online marketing tools and techniques are rapidly growing in use.

Yet the use of such tools among rural business owners and small agricultural business owners has not kept up with the national trends. These businesses tend to continue their use of more traditional marketing tools.

The Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement at Kansas State University has taken a look at this issue among the green industry businesses including garden centers, nurseries, and landscape operations. In this webinar, they discuss their findings and offer ideas on how rural small-business owners can make the best use of online marketing. 

The Family Business: From Main Street to Wall Street

family business owners

Photo (CC) by Dana, on Flickr

Chances are you do business with with one, and probably many more, family businesses.

Family businesses surround us. Family businesses form an integral part of our economy. We find them in all shapes and sizes, from WalMart and Ford to your main street stores and even some operating out of the garage or off the dining room table.

Family businesses represent a unique intersection of the business system with the family system. Family businesses have additional opportunities and resources because of the family system of which they are a part. Intermingling of time and resources has been found to be used in the business just as such resources, at times, find their way over to the family system from the business.

Yet with such potential benefits, family businesses are also navigating family dynamics and relationships that a traditional business owner never encounters.

Understanding the family business with its merger of the both the family and business systems, along with a two-way relationship with the community, has been the the mission of the Family Business Research team and its National Family Business Survey. The team is now collecting data providing 20 years of information from its national panel of businesses.

From the development of the Sustainable Family Business Theory in 1999, the team has focused on understanding the factors of success along with how communities and family businesses work together. Resource exchange, disaster preparedness and response, and family tensions have all been examined.

How such family businesses give back to the community has been highlighted earlier. Recently a highlights newsletter has been distributed and a complete bibliography for the group can be found here.

Family businesses are key economic contributors. They not only feed the family that runs them but expands and enhances the local economy. Get to know your family business owners. See how your community and these businesses can work more closely together. 

Enjoy Success with Your Small Farm

mama-and-baby-goatThe number of small farms continues to grow in the United States. While many of these represent noncommercial operations, the interest in local foods, natural and organic also represent a big driver of this movement.

Small farm operators, as noted by Mary Peabody, University of Vermont Extension, are an “enthusiastic, passionate, ambitious lot.” Farming is demanding, requiring commitment of mind and body to be successful.

The UVM Extension New Farmer Project is one effort to help coordinate resources and services for this segment of the economy. In addition to providing tips for a successful startup,  you can find information on farm labor, marketing, pricing, and quality of life.

Many other states along with USDA and nonprofits are also supporting the small farm industry. Some of these resources can be found here.

As a small farmer, you do not need to feel that you are going it alone. Check out the resources and also build your network.

Good luck.

Community Development: Retaining Rural Grocers

Elwood marketThanks go to Dr. Dan Kahl, Associate Director of the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky for this week’s blog idea. His idea demonstrates the power of the national Cooperative Extension Service network as he mentions work being done in Kansas.


It’s not a secret. Many small rural towns struggle to maintain themselves and their quality of life.

Part of that quality comes from having certain amenities such as a local cafe and a school. Another key component is a local grocery store. This local store often becomes a meeting point where neighbor sees neighbor, where the bulletin board serves as a “social media” sharing site, and where many events are held.

Obviously we all need food and that means access. USDA talks about food deserts or places where, for rural situations, people have to drive more than 10 miles to get to a supermarket or large grocery store. But such stores serve as much more.

Kansas State University has developed the Rural Grocery Initiative to help these rural linchpin stores maintain themselves and grow. When Dan sent the information about this effort, he specifically mentioned their Rural Grocery Tool Kit as a useful resource. Not only are a variety of tools found but there is also a variety of reports such as Rural Grocery Stores: Ownership Models that Work for Rural Communities.

Since 2007, Kansas State’s Center for Engagement and Community Development has worked on this project. They have done several national meetings for store owners and community stakeholders. Their National Rural Grocery Summit V is set for June 6th and 7th in Wichita, Kansas. See their web site for more information.

Growing your local economy through your rural grocery store. Looking for help, here is a great resource.  

Here is another story on supporting rural grocery stores.

Trends Influencing Your Small Business

It is important to remain aware of and be prepared to respond to trends that may influence your business.

Dr. Connie Reimers-Hild took some time to look at three mega-trends she views as influencing rural, small businesses. Watch the first of her videos that examines the gig-economy.

What’s the gig-economy? It is many things but one element is self-employment, or freelancing in her terminology. Her information shows this is a rapidly growing trend.

So take a look. Read more about it here.

And then take a few moments to think about how this and the two other trends, Living with Purpose and Meaning and The Decentralized Marketplace, are and will continue to influence your business.

Tips From a Restaurant Owner

Opening a restaurant is a desire of many individuals. Yet doing so brings a number of unique challenges. Power of Business, in a recent First Friday chat, interviewed Edgar Oliveria, a successful restaurant owner, for tips on how he successfully started and continues to operate not only one but now two restaurants.

Tips from business owners are provided the first Friday of every month at 12:15 pm ET. Topics vary. People attending can ask questions of the speaker. So grab a cup of coffee and join us on on Friday, August 1st.