New businesses face an array of challenges, but entrepreneurs in rural areas face a special set of circumstances that can make starting a business acutely difficult. With the right strategy and business model, though, successful business owners can launch a rural business that thrives.
Local Goods Retailer
Retailing merchandise in a rural environment typically presents a number of hurdles, as many small businesses experience difficulty selling enough merchandise to get wholesale pricing. Selling locally sourced products, though, allows entrepreneurs to reduce product costs and buy on demand while providing an outlet for local farmers and craftspeople to sell their wares. According to a 2010 article on the entrepreneurial website Small Biz Trends, a burgeoning "Shop Local" trend has shifted consumer preferences toward items made, grown or produced in the local environment. Buying local goods for resale also saves on shipping costs and cuts carbon emissions, as goods do not need to travel long distances from distant manufacturers. Also, retail stores selling locally sourced merchandise can serve as an attractive shopping experience for tourists vacationing in the rural area.
The increasing urbanisation of America leaves a number of city dwellers longing for the slower pace and relaxed ambience of rural life. Rural tour operators can capitalise on harried tourists by offering local information, guides to local festivities, transportation options and sources for local merchandise. The U.S. Government's Rural Information Center provides assistance for developing rural tourism programs, and the center's website notes that many visitors travel to rural markets specifically for a taste of the area's unique flare. Rural tour operators must use caution in carefully assessing the area's potential for tourism development, though, as the market must offer sufficient recreational, lodging and historical and cultural identities to attract visitors. Even in the absence of these resources, ambitious rural tour operators may play an instrumental role in establishing local festivals, attracting hoteliers and planning events as both a strategic investment and a service to the community.
Broadband Internet Provider
Rural citizens often experience notoriously slow Internet connections, and the U.S. Government launched an initiative in 2010 to bolster development of faster services. Tech-savvy entrepreneurs can establish an Internet Service Provider, sometimes known as an ISP, to resell services from major data carriers. With a government subsidy like the £44.5 million that Northern Illinois University received in 2010, business owners can build a successful enterprise at a reduced cost while providing a valuable service to the rural community. This business idea does require some technical know-how, though, as building a successful ISP mandates knowledge of data transport technologies like gigabit Ethernet and WiMax.
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