If you go down the country into the smaller farming and coastal towns, you will be surprised to see the number of small businesses that are thriving. Yes, there are plenty that are struggling too but this is usually where the local economy is undergoing change. In these small towns, you will find extraordinarily high quality products that are often locally made and where the service is friendly and excellent.
On the road through the Free State, I came across a small roadside restaurant that is stocked with local hand-made preserves, sweets and even crisps. In this restaurant there are no crisps, for instance, manufactured by the giant industrial manufacturers. The restaurant is attractive and done in a country style that encourages you to take a break from your long-haul driving and relax in the farm-style atmosphere. This business has been running for more than seven years by the same owner and despite being located in a remote area where there is no nearby town, it has done well.
Other small businesses that I’ve come across in the smaller farming and coastal towns include an independent burger outlet, a start-up mechanical engineering business serving the farming community and smaller renewable energy companies that are helping farmers to switch from the expensive grid to less-costly alternative energy in the long term and more sustainable. It’s interesting that if you go back 100 years farmers were more dependent on wind and small hydro electric plants but were eventually lured onto the grid. Nowadays farmers are using solar energy for security fences, water pumps and are even considering bringing back small hydro plants to help run their pivot irrigation schemes. It’s not only cost that affects them but also reliability of supply.
A recent report released in Australia about the Internet in rural areas shows that a larger proportion of the population does online shopping in non-urban areas than in the major capital cities. The coordinator of a rural co-working space says there are strong local business opportunities for start-ups in rural areas for web design, system support, software engineering, innovative product and service development. Rural communities have specialist domain expertise in areas such as agribusiness, tourism, community services and education. A great untapped sector the coordinator believes is in developing web solutions or mobile apps that can bring together this specialist expertise.
As small businesses in the smaller rural farming and coastal towns begin to hook up on the Internet, more possibilities will emerge for strengthening the local networks and more effectively marketing their products and services.
Whatever business you may want to start or if you need to innovate your small business in this economy, you are probably going to need a clear, practical system that you can follow to come up with new approaches, ideas and directions. In “Breakthrough Ideas” I reveal how you can use simple tools to commercialise new business ideas or how to use them to expand your business or respond strategically to changes in the market. Here is the link.
No matter where you are, no matter the difficulties you face, there are smart solutions as these rural entrepreneurs show. Don’t underestimate them. All it takes is an opportunity minded person to spot the gaps, take action and reap the rewards. Here’s that link.