It doesn’t have to be a million-dollar moon shot.

Posted on January 18, 2017

Paula Jensen
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Guest Author, Becky McCray

Now is the perfect time to Take Small Steps.

We’ve just passed the first of the year with all its resolutions and renewed commitments. It’s also been six months since the first RuralX Summit, and that makes it the perfect time to remember, review and renew some of the ideas you left with.

If you weren’t at RuralX last year, you can join in now, and get excited about the upcoming RuralX17 on July 18-19, 2017.

Now, let’s not make this overwhelming. Let’s stick with the key piece of advice that Deb Brown and I shared with you in our keynote: Take Small Steps. Keep thinking “small steps” while you decide what you want to act on in the next six months.

Here’s the plan to get you renewed and re-excited.

The first small step is to watch this video of our talk, Innovative Rural Business Models. It’s all about those small steps, and full of idea-starters you can use right away. It will take 30 minutes, and it will remind you of a lot of great ideas you had while you were in Aberdeen.

Second small step is to dig out your notes from RuralX. (If you weren’t at RuralX, start with notes from the video you just watched.) Spend 5 minutes reviewing them, pen in hand, looking for small steps you could take right away. What’s the easiest? What would be quickest? What would you be excited to try next? Mark those ideas only. Let the big ideas sit for now. Trust that they won’t disappear while you focus on small steps.

Third small step is to call someone right now and kick something off. Don’t wait. Do it right now! It doesn’t have to be a million-dollar moon shot. Look for a hundred-dollar bounce instead. Tell them what you’re going to do and then you’ll do it. Make this the first action to making something cool happen.

Still hesitating? Take inspiration from your peers

You have probably read about the kids from Miller SD who created the shed business project, or the other successes that Dakota Resources have shared in the Rural Xchange eNews. Those all started by taking small steps. But they might feel intimidating, if you’re still stuck. That’s why I want to give you some other examples of what your peers have done since the summit, in their own words. These are smaller successes, but they are successes nonetheless.

“(I) have begun to think of the beginning small steps that are achievable instead of trying to tackle all of the problems of our small town at once.”

Excellent! That’s exactly the right attitude to get momentum started. What’s one achievable step you can tackle today?

“One business contact, the inspiration to pursue my business in other SD communities.”

That’s perfect! Just one business contact can make a difference. Who did you meet in 2016 that you could make one follow-up phone call or email to, today?

“I have focused more on shop local and encouraging others to use their local resources.”

Love shop local! What is one store you could walk into today, tell them they matter to the community and buy one thing?

“During our work session (at RuralX) on Wednesday I chaired a discussion on vacant buildings…a number of people joined the discussion and we have been implementing those ideas one by one and anticipate having a new vacant structure registration and we will be holding our first vacant building tour in the spring.”

Step by step! That’s the way to go. What’s one idea you can do right now that will add up to bigger progress by July 2017?


That’s it. You have the small steps in front of you. Take the five minutes right now to get things moving. Even if your first step has to be to schedule an appointment with yourself so you can get going, do it. You’ll love the feeling of making progress.

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