The Integrity and Priorities of Place

The Priority of Place

The Priority of Place

I recently wrote about how the things you actually spend time on uncover your priorities. A colleague of mine noted that what you spend money on does the same thing, which is partially true. There are a number of things you spend money on that are not discretionary, like food (if you are fortunate enough to have the money for food…).

Other interesting indicators of priority are your decisions made in the midst of radical change.

I recently read an article in the Guardian by a professor at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana. I should say ‘former professor’, as the college just closed after operating since 1889. Rensselaer, IN has a population of just under 6,000 souls and is definitely NOT a place you might expect a college to be.  Ranked as a “Best Midwestern College” by the Princeton Review and U.S  News, it nonetheless announced on February 3, 2017 that it will temporarily suspend operations at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year. The article’s author, Jon Nichols, rightly interprets that to mean “Students: transfer now; Faculty & employees: you will need a new job soon.”

Mr. Nichols doesn’t want to move.

He grew up there, has raised his family, has all his friends, relatives and colleagues there, and, despite the limited prospects as an ex-English professor, loves the town and most things about it. A sizable number of his friends from the college are in the same boat. Many are 2-income families (the norm in America today, if you want to survive economically…) and moving would mean the other family member having to quite her or his job and, in many cases, pull the children out of school to relocate….and then there’s the family connections that are local…

So why is this an article that intrigues me so? I’m from Iowa originally, so I feel that I “know” these people somewhat. I care about them and empathize. When I first moved to the Pacific Northwest I thought I would be moving back to the Midwest in a few years. I was wrong, but the existential “pull” was there.

But what does this have to do with marketing or being a small business owner?

Many of us, as small business owners, moved to (or stayed in…) a community because we either loved it there, or we landed there and grew to love it. We grew roots into the community, gained friends, ties to organizations and clubs, planted trees, raised and graduated children, and grew a bit older.

Business is business, but sometimes you might think that, if you had to relocate the business purely for business reasons (read “revenue“…), you might find a more lucrative market elsewhere. A tech startup, to use a well-worn myth, might find growth and the right kinds of personnel more readily available in Silicon Valley or Seattle than, say, Ottumwa, Iowa or Kenosha, Wisconsin. But you love living in Kenosha, so you stay there and create your business vision there.

You just prioritized a very important thing for you and for your business.
  • Community
Sure, there are undoubtedly a number of other, valid reasons to build your business there (and in Kenosha, the close proximity to lots of quality cheese might have something to do with it….I mean, really…’s CHEESE!) Still, you made a very important decision that will affect everything about your business and its success.

So, the point of this article?

Realize that there are many considerations you make when setting the expectations for your business and plan for its success. How you go about it is a function of this primal decision. The fact that the decision is more about the quality of your life says a lot about the integrity of your business.

Do not believe otherwise.

Without integrity, your business is not worth building.

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