Are you ready to run a country business?

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(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)
(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)

I saw an article on country business the other day from a writer I have admired for many years. In fact, ever since I was a cadet reporter. Chris Marais has made the country his life and is a brilliant storyteller.

He wrote how farmers and small country businesses in the Karoo have taken to the Internet and how the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project outside Carnarvon in the Northern Cape will help improve bandwidth in the Karoos. It’s interesting too that farmers are starting second or sideline businesses online.

I think the dream for many people is to go to the countryside, find a small town where they can operate a small business and enjoy a slower lifestyle. This is the romantic dream. But often the smaller towns are not a field of dreams as the romanticised version will tell you. They also wracked by unemployment, high crime rates and vulnerable economies that are not supported by the bureaucrats. Entrepreneurs might be full of ideas but it’s difficult to face these odds every day of your life. In one town I visited, I kid you not, the largest concern was the social welfare (SASSA) office. An elderly woman had been murdered in the town. A coterie of tiny businesses were desperately trying to stay alive after copying the arts and crafts business model of other more successful towns but were clearly failing.

If you search and choose carefully, there are places under the radar so to speak where you can set up and live a comfortable life. I’m not going to mention which towns these are. It’s best to identify places where you want to set up shop yourself, do your homework and go check out the place first-hand. Remember, what you see in the here and now may not be the same pretty picture that you will see in five or 10 years time when you want to slow down even further.

Is there a difference between city and country businesses? I don’t think so except for perhaps providing more personal and friendly service. The business challenges are the same. You’ve got a come up with new ideas, new approaches and new concepts that provide value to customers. You’ve got understand your market and know what their needs are and how to serve them with solutions they want. So many entrepreneurial ventures fail – the statistics tell us that something like 80% in the first year – because among other reasons people don’t put themselves in the shoes of their potential customers and give them the value they want.

One thing that’s virtually the same for both city and country business people is that they need to come up with new business ideas, especially so in these times when new solutions are needed as customers are knocked about and rattled by the economy, which is been manipulated by bureaucrats. It’s a tragedy because entrepreneurs create value and bureaucrats, as you know, generally can’t resist destroying value. The sharp or smart entrepreneur has to put that aside and constantly think about creating value otherwise they won’t stay in business very long.

The other thing is ideas need action. Yes, ideas need to be implemented but you can’t wait around forever planning and planning and not putting your plans into the world. There is only so much you can learn from a written plan – for the rest of it you’ve got a get out there, be chased by the jackals, duck and dive the vultures and not step on the crocodiles. Humans learn through doing yet experts or academics want to sell you their formulas to make things easy. It’s nothing more than good ol’ snake oil. Rather learn from an experienced business person when you need guidance and get on with it.

Whatever you want to do as a country business, remember Canned Heat:

I’m going up the country, babe, don’t you wanna go?
I’m going up the country, babe, don’t you wanna go?
I’m going to some place where I’ve never been before.

I’m going, I’m going where the water tastes like wine.
Well, I’m going where the water tastes like wine.
We can jump in the water, stay drunk all the time.

Here’s wishing you success if you decide to go up the country but remember it’s not all water and wine.

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