If your business is based in a large town or city consider the benefits of starting a new business, opening a new branch, buying another business, or even re-locating to a rural location. This may sound contradictory to good business - after all more population means more sales right?
Well yes, in principle, but there are plenty of reasons why opening up in small town Canada can be rewarding, both financially and in terms of your lifestyle. Here are five things to consider when thinking of becoming a ruralpreneur:
There's a lot to be said for being a big fish in a small pond - you will be supporting a local community and be looked up to as an important business leader, rather than being small fry (pun intended) in a big city. You will get to know your customers better and it'll be far easier to build a loyal customer base.
You may think there is limited business in a small town, but here's the thing - commercial space often costs less, and the overall cost of living compensates at least in part for lower sales. Not only that, small towns almost always have a selection of small businesses for sale at very reasonable prices that can give you a head start on launching that new venture. As huge numbers of baby boomers retire, the selection of businesses for sale has never been better.
Your financial risk is lower in a small town. In larger towns and cities you'll almost certainly have to commit to longer leases, and the more business you expect the larger the inventory you'll need to carry, the more staff you'll require, and that all means increased financial exposure.
It's a slower pace of life out in the 'burbs - you'll feel more in control of your life. Being self-employed in rural Canada means living in a place "where everyone knows your name" - and you'll be on first name basis with your customers. And - consider the non-commute!
Rural communities invest in themselves and their futures - being an integral part of the growth and sustainability of your town can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. Being self-employed in a rural community means you can actually make a difference.
5 Tips on Starting a Business in Rural Canada
Look for under-serviced niches. What products and services are locals driving to the nearest large town or city to obtain? Is this a need you could satisfy?
When looking at potential products and services make sure it's something people need on a regular basis, not just occasionally. For example, while people may only buy expensive jewelry once a year, they need inkjet cartridges every few months, and coffee several times a day.
Look at established, successful businesses - is there a product or service they need which is not being sufficiently met by existing local suppliers? For example, graphic design, bookkeeping, office equipment/supplies etc.
If you are a micro-business, typical rural opportunities that are often successful include: home cleaning; construction; handyman/person; courier/transport; hair salon; children's daycare; senior care; tutoring; specialist organic produce supplier. There are many more and much will depend on the needs of the community, your skills, and what areas are being under-serviced. And don't forget that if you buy an existing business it will come with loyal customers ready to support you as the new owner.
Just because your business is rural, doesn't mean all your customers need to be local. If you are selling a product, or a service that can be carried out remotely, consider an online component to your business, this will allow you to supplement local income with customers from across the country or beyond.
Becoming a 'ruralpreneur' might just be the best thing you've ever done!
Thanks to Lori Camire of CFDC Alberni-Clayoquot, for promoting this concept. If you're in BC check out the 'Buy BC Businesses" guides at www.ventureconnect.ca.