3 Challenges Rural Entrepreneurs Face And How To Overcome Them
When we think of entrepreneurs, we think of bright lights and big cities like startup star San Francisco or, closer to home, slick Sydney. But there are entrepreneurs everywhere, including in regional areas and country towns around Australia and the world. These brave souls are facing a number of challenges over and above the usual risks – we take a look at some of the things that rural entrepreneurs have to overcome, and why it’s all worth it in the end.
When you’re just starting out, the name of the game is to get noticed. Depending on whether you’re selling products or services, straight to consumers or business-to-business, your techniques will vary but the end goal doesn’t. More often than not, you’re bootstrapping the business in the early stages, so a formal advertising campaign isn’t an option. That means networking and connecting with as many stakeholders as possible to gain momentum and awareness. But what if your customer base isn’t local?
The advent of the internet means you’re not as disadvantaged as you once were. Having a dedicated website is only the first step: well-managed social media allows you to create an ongoing relationship with potential customers, put your face out there and display the personality of your brand. Even then, nothing completely substitutes face to face interaction, so make sure you book in a couple of times for travel during the year as well, and cram as many coffee catch-ups into your schedule as possible.
You might be working on your own now, but as you scale, you’ll need to add to your team. If you’re in a rural location, picking might be slim, especially if you need specialist talent. How imperative is it to have employees located in close proximity? If very, consider thinking outside of the box – can you contact a local college and see if there are any new graduates they can recommend for positions? Otherwise, this is where the remote gig economy comes into its own: whether you’re after an assistant, project manager or financial support, you can tap talent from around the world without leaving your own office.
Remote teams bring their own challenges, of course, so you’ll have to be prepared to manage your staff slightly differently from a traditional set up. If you can do it, however, it can be much kinder on your bottom line than an office full of people.
Delivery and manufacturing
If you’re offering a physical product, you’ll need to take into account both the costs of materials to be sent to you, and the costs of shipping your product out to stockists and customers. Sometimes, that will make it difficult to compete on price alone with manufacturers who live more locally to their stock. On the other hand, if you can take advantage of local produce or manufacture, you can use it as a point of difference. A rise in interest around locally produced goods means that customers are often inclined to pay more for what they perceive to be a more ethical product.
What do you think?
Have you run a business from a location which is considered ‘rural’? What challenges did you face, and how did you benefit from the unique arrangement? We’d love to hear about your experience – comment to join the conversation.
This article was written by Tanya Ashworth-Keppel on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to compile this article: The Guardian, The Telegraph.