Category Archives: entreprenuer

Rural thoughts on raising the minimum wage

Many states have raised the minimum wage today. 18 in fact. Several of them to over $10 an hour.  Read about it here

Now don’t get me wrong- I don’t begrudge anybody a chance to make a decent living. I would have loved to be on the receiving end as a worker and as an employer would have been ecstatic to be able to pay my employees more.

3789566982_320590780eBut I do believe that these states did not really try to take their rural communities into account. In particular isolated rural communities.And if they did, it was only to spare a second to think to themselves ‘they don’t have enough people to matter’..

I’ve lived in several incredibly tiny rural communities in a couple of the states listed. We owned a business in one.  A little town of a hundred  people, 135 miles from the city (700K ppl), and 45 miles to the nearest ‘urban’ center (3500ppl) . Our nearest communities had 27 and 300 people respectively.  Those numbers have not fluctuated all that much in the years since we left.

Many rural businesses cannot sustain a fair sized increase in minimum wage. -Not even if it’s over a number of years.

I know many will say “Oh- What’s a buck or two?” – A couple dollars multiplied by 30 -40 hours a week adds up.  On top of that the employer will now pay a higher unemployment tax, FICA and workmans comp.  – all of which can hinder the ability to pay an employee a higher wage.

Those same dollars can also spell the difference between whether that rural community continues have a hardware store, market, café etc…

Here are some scenarios–  Bobs Hardware is a busy little place servicing several tiny communities. Bob needs help.- he hires Joe to come work and pays him the elevated wage. Joe is happy. For a time. -You see, Bob has to either sell more or cut Joes hours to afford the wage.

Bob can’t really sell any more than he already is because he doesn’t have the same traffic an urban or city business attracts. Bob is 145 miles from people. His customers are the farmers, ranchers and families in his area. And they can only buy so much.  So Bob cuts Joes hours.

Or.… Let’s say Bobs Hardware already has several employees. The minimum wage goes up. Bob has to choose. Does he cut everyone’s hours? Or does he let two go and keep Joe? And if he keeps Joe, is Joe going to up and quit because Bob expects him to work harder for the new wage?  Even if he pays a little more than the ‘new wage’- Joe may eventually build up resentment of having to do more work.

Or… Bobs Hardware employs Joe. The wages go up.  Bob can no longer afford to have even one employee. So Bob, who’s already run his rural business for decades l6939468522_bc879c5f3f_bet’s Joe go. Bob can no longer do all the work himself and cuts his business hours which in turn loses some revenue. Eventually Bob just throws in the towel and closes leaving communities without their only hardware store AND an empty/shuttered building on Main Street.  That in turn leads to lower property values for the entire community. And potentially lost revenue for the gas station, since the local farmer filled fuel on his way home from Bobs Hardware and grabbed a coffee at the cafe. In the meantime, Joe was let go and job opportunities in a town of a couple hundred are slim. Joe has moved to the city for work taking what disposable income he had with him, and quite possibly his kids out of school and money out of the donation plate at church that helped fund local causes or 4-h etc. 

Or… Bob raises his prices significantly in an effort to afford his wage increase and in the process actually loses business. – Many rural folk will save ‘it’ for a trip ‘to town’ when ‘it’ is no longer cost effective to buy locally. At the same time, when those folks go to town they will spend the entire day and do ALL their shopping and stop at the café to boot, bypassing their own community all together.

I have witnesses every one of these scenarios over the years.

**99% of small business owners in rural communities WANT to pay their employees better. They genuinely love their towns and the people within and want them to survive and thrive.

**A huge number of those same employers work tremendous amounts of hours themselves “FOR FREE” so they CAN employ someone from the area. (we did)

**Sometimes in lieu of money they find other creative compensation.  We did.  If we hadn’t we wouldn’t have been  able to be open enough hours to even pay ourselves a meager living.

So while I don’t necessarily think the new wages are bad, I do think they will force some hard decisions in rural communities.

In equal numbers, some businesses will find a way and some will not. Some will close. Some will hang on- for a while, maybe longer. Some will thrive.

Next time we’ll talk about some of the creative ways we’ve seen businesses in tiny communities thrive.

~Katy~

Katy is a rural and small town consultant with Tait and Kate Consulting  ~Helping rural communities grow and thrive~

 

 

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What does your entryway say about you?

An entryway says so much about a building. It is space that is often overlooked, but sets the tone for what is ahead.

mercat_window_2015

Urban Indigo    Oakland, CA

What does yours say about you? It can tell us what type of business is in there. If it  is open or closed.

Is yours welcoming?  Does it tell a story? Spark the imagination? Tempt you?

An entryway can also be art. It can be so many things!

In Berthoud, Colorado a joint effort between the city, 11261827_1529547420689260_6503898361766391575_obusinesses and homeowners produced Entryways of Berthoud to showcase art and their community. They invited folks to submit photos of entryways and these were then turned into notecards and posters.

An entryway for a business has many functions and is an important part of the establishment itself.  It may act as the local bulletin board in a rural community, or set the tone of the business.

An entryway can provide a striking entrance with uses of color and architectural details. Or lead into a more formal atmosphere with more subdued touches.

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Chop & Wok Scottsdale, AZ

 

Similar to the beginning a chapter in a book, an entryway establishes a story that has yet to unfold.

An entryway is also a very affordable way to change a businesses dynamic.  It is a spot where risks can be taken, and even on a limited budget, have a remarkable effect.

img_8317Think about the places you frequent. How do they make you feel? Welcome? Not so much?

We like our homes to be welcoming and inviting. Our businesses should be too.

How can you use your entryway to enhance your business or community?

~Katy~

Katy is a rural and small town /small business speaker, consultant, advocate & writer.  She believes many small communities can grow from within using resources already at hand and creative strategies and leverage those to attract new families, businesses and customers.  Do you want Tait & Kate to come speak to your community or group? Email us at info@taitandkate.com

 

 

 

 

 

What do a seamtress and a coffee roaster have in common?

Community.

That’s what a seamstress/creative and a world class coffee roaster have in common.

“When people talk, community happens”Becky McCray

IMG_4889

Me and Jo

(And let me tell you…. Jo and I can TALK!!)

We are a community. A community of entrepreneurs. A community of women. A community of small town advocates. A community of creatives . A community of givers and do-ers~It only takes two to be part of a ‘community’

~The funny thing about our “community” is that we don’t even live in the same town. Not even the same part of the state!~

I met Jo Kahlifa , at a local Pride of Dakota event a number of years ago. We instantly became friends and have since done a number of exciting things jointly both personally and with our businesses. ( check out MoJo Roast and read about her and the coffees)

IMG_4902The fact that we are a “community”  was driven home this past week when we attended an OTA conference. (NorthDakOTA,MinnesOTA,SouthDakOTA)  Part of the purpose was to bring together creatives from towns across a tri-state area to help transform where we live into great , re-envisioned communities. Places where people once again gather and talk to each other instead of about each other. Communities where roots are put down and dreams are realized.

Community matters. In so many ways. And Community is not always where you live. Often it is what you do.

~Katy~

 

 

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I am “Country Woman” ~ hear me roar!

Every year Farm and Ranch Guide puts on a Country Woman of the Year contest.

People are supposed to write in why they think their woman should win…. But there are guidelines… Community involvement, Special deeds, Involvement with the daily operations etc.  ~  This implies all manner of things.DSCN5883

Most of the women nominated log long hours in real production in crops and livestock, they are active in church and volunteer for nearly everything, blah- blah- blah. All without a hair out of place. You know the types.

Don’t get me wrong~I am not disparaging them in any way. Many of the nominated women are my neighbors. Some of them have won. I admire these women.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I asked Hubby once WHY he didn’t nominate me. He said because I am none of those things, but am Everything to him. (and that he sucks at writing)

That being said- I AM a Country Woman of the Year… Day in and day out. Year after year.

I don’t need a contest to tell me so. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“I can bring home the Bacon…. Fry it up in a pan…….”  Remember that commercial? That about sums it up.

In my little world, I am the one who raises the kids and attends school functions, nurses the bottle babies (Calves and Kitties alike), bakes fresh bread every couple days, Cooks from scratch every meal, minds the garden, cans more goods than a grocery store, gate girl when it’s blizzarding and -30 out, sews and mends, shuffles hubby and vehicles from field to field, watches the markets, tracks the weather, brings him lunch in OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe field, never ever calls him when he’s out with the guys, works from home, goes to church, does the parts running, beer fairy,  handles correspondence and the usual round of maid chores too. I  put a good spin on things when they go awry and make hubby feel better about it.  I  am20140906_173647 constantly championing small business in rural communities, attend Downtowners Conferences on my own dime and time so I can better myself and my community, make a quilt every year to donate for raffle at charity, finds the humor in the dark times, mend broken hearts and bruised egos, teach the kids to dream, keeper of the memories and family stories, teaches others how to bake and sew, butchers chickens with the best of them, run a small business of my own, don’t complain when our plans are cancelled yet again 20141128_101658(1)because ‘We have to go to the field, NOW’, I know that  boots DO go with everything, and more. ~ I know that there are 3 big social functions (4 in a good year!) … Two farm shows and a Pheasants  4ever banquet (you can sub- cattlemans, DU or whatever)  If it’s a good year- a trip the fair gets tossed in. Otherwise my social engagements are solo.

Things I won’t or don’t do? I refuse to ever again “Hold that panel, damnit!” when the BULL is making a break for it nor do I drive his big boy toys.

I am proud to support my Hubby- an American Farmer-  behind the scenes in all these little ways.

~Katy~

Cottage Food Laws in North Dakota need a serious update!

Cottage food laws in North Dakota need to be updated. – Oh wait… ND doesn’t have a bonafide Cottage Food Law~

Ours are not the most restrictive, but they don’t help much in a predominately rural state.

~Currently we can sell baked goods, jams and jellies, lefse, candies and similar items at Farmers Markets, Country Fairs and Non-profit or charitable events. ~

Jams from Mare's Creations

Jams from Mare’s Creations

We cannot (not supposed to) sell at Craft shows, at for profit events, food festivals, online or out of our homes. (interesting- we make it at home, but can’t sell it from our home!)

~I propose the following changes:  Allow us to sell from home, sell at shows, sell to retail establishments- as long as they are labeled as such, allow in-state online sales (not to exceed 50,000$ a year) ~

Also I would suggest mandatory insurance of some amount, and have to register as a business (can be done online for a very nominal fee that way you can at least be tracked down if need be)

Why? you ask….

#1 Because North Dakota is a predominately rural state.  In spite of big oil and big money, the rest of the state is still the same. It is still mainly small towns and sparse population. Not every one can drive to ‘town’ (meaning the big 8) for a job,  and not every small town can employ everybody.  And not everybody even lives near a town! (we’re 17 to the nearest village)

#2 It will make a difference. It would bring in  more tax money to rural,small and outlying  communities. A much needed income stream!  It will help us, help ourselves. It can get people off assistance. It can make a difference between keeping a roof over your head, or not. It can help an entrepreneur take those first steps. It can spark hope in a town that may think it’s days are done. It can promote tourism and Agri-tourism. It can do many things for us.

Buffalo Baking Co. -Morada, CA

Buffalo Baking Co. -Morada, CA

** I can actually give a hundred good reasons, but for sake of space, I won’t**

I also don’t think we need an inspection either. Standard food service rules should be applied and followed along with common sense.  Most people who sell at farmers markets, bazaar’s etc have cleaner homes than most restaurants you eat in. Really. 

~What about the Nay Sayers? and the “It’s not Fair!” people?…. What about them?  No is just a word. And Life isn’t fair.  I totally understand where the lady who busted her chops to open a traditional bakery,and spent tons of time and money to do so may be miffed. But realistically it’s apples and oranges. Cookies and Jams are not Kuchen, Cream Puffs or other premium egg or custard based delicacies.  The home baker is not a threat to commercial businesses. We are an option.

Arizona allows resale of Home Baked Goods to coffee shops, cafe’s etc as long as they are properly labeled.  They also allow for in state internet sales.

Texas has created over ONE THOUSAND NEW JOBS this year through cottage food laws! Think about the tax revenue that brings in! And… in all 25 counties, Not 1 complaint has been filed against any home baker!

California and Utah have very generous CFL’s.

So- start shouting it from your roof tops! Tell your friends, pester your local legislators and city governments to get on the band wagon.

~Katy~

Helpful links: http://www.ndhealth.gov/foodlodging/PDF/PROOF_farmers_market_ruling.pdf

http://forrager.com/2014/09/texas-law-created-thousand-local-businesses/#comment-69561

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