The Mission Statement of Small Town Hub is: Creatively and collaboratively boost small, rural economies while embracing the lifestyle of local residents and supporting their local businesses. Kara Laws CEO of Small Town Hub states: “We help small rural businesses expand and not just survive but thrive.” Kara’s business works with small rural businesses and their cities to help them get online, sell online and help them attract the right customers. Essentially they help rural economies to grow.
Kara grew up in rural eastern Utah in the town of Blanding. She has always been interested in business. She owned a photography studio for nine years, which she started because she loved business and was good at photography. She had always planned it as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. During the nine years of her photography business, she lost focus of what she really wanted to do and what she cared about so much. About seven months ago, Kara sold her photography studio and her husband quit his job to work with his wife full-time in her new business: Small Town Hub.
About three years ago when the controversial Bears Ears Monument was in the news, and the town of Blanding was caught up in the crosshairs, Kara became concerned with how it affected the local residents and businesses. It became hard for them to have a voice and an opinion about what was happening within their own community. There was simply no way for them to be heard because they didn’t have the resources, systems in place, or even a website to reach outside of their community when they needed help being heard.
Kara decided her community and other rural communities could do better. The whole controversy had become very political and divided even though they were all fighting for the same thing. Local businesses weren’t equipped to handle the online (or new way) of doing business. She realized that if cities and businesses were given the right platforms then they would have the resources to speak out for themselves and continue to grow. In a nutshell, Kara says, “small businesses and small towns weren’t online like they needed to be.”
Small Town Hub’s primary focus is on rural businesses and cities. Most places that teach marketing or help people get online are marketing to the masses. You can’t market to the masses when you have such a small customer pool to draw from. Because of this, their business is unique, especially when working with cities. They have a hub program were they help the city identify the type of visitors and residents they would like in their community. For example, if they want to be a retirement community, Small Town Hub helps them target retirees and not college students.
Kara’s team has worked with a local restaurant called Patio Diner. She has helped them get online, create an online ordering system, and gain a better following through social media and an email list. This is an example of how her business helps businesses in rural communities get online and be seen.
The biggest challenge is educating people on what Small Town Hub can to do for them. Kara says, “people think it sounds crazy that you can target or pinpoint the type of people you want living in your city, yet the science is there to back it up.” She is not aware of anyone doing this type of business in rural areas, especially Utah.
Her advice to women starting out in business is to be willing to take help, get extra education and seek someone to help you write a business and marketing plan (WBCUtah can help with that!). “Find a group, a coach or an education system so you have a support system of people who get it.” Another thing she learned after running her last business was that she wanted a business that doesn’t rely solely on her. She wants her new business so organized and systematic that it can run independent of her and allow her to train other people. In her words, “systemize the heck out of your business so that you can breathe and have the opportunity to hire.”