Given the hype about how well urban areas are doing, you might wonder whether a small business can survive at all in a rural area. You might argue that you’ve got no footfall, employment prospects are poorer, broadband is slow – and …
In the US, an interest in shopping local and the lower costs of living and doing business are cited as reasons to be hopeful.
Here in Ireland, the threat of Brexit and the long shadow of the recession as well as concerns about broadband have left some premises boarded up in rural town. And in the UK, slow broadband speed is one thing holding back six out of ten rural businesses, according to the Federation of Small Businesses.
However, news that at least one mobile network is trialling a new wireless home broadband access trial is good news at least – and not before time.
Make use of the fact that your customers do have good broadband and do access the Internet and do so increasingly on tablets and mobile phones. So, the Interweb (!) and its online reviews and its wide reach makes everyone a local. It’s up to you to make sure you can be found online. Make sure that your website has SEO, that it reads well on small screens. On social media platforms, check that your Facebook page is up to date, that your Twitter account is witty. And ensure that you’re using every method you can to contact your ‘local’ customer base.
Rural is hot right now, and there are increasing calls to save rural Ireland. More and more organisations are throwing a spotlight on rural Ireland – yay! That includes reviewing the social and economic policies that affect those of us with green fields in our line of sight!
Survival of the most creative
So, can a business survive in rural Ireland?
I believe so, but you’ve got to be creative in how you promote your product or service. You’ve got to think outside the box, figure out what’s unique to you (and that may be well be all those green fields), and promote with personality.
And, don’t forget to support other small businesses in your locality. Local money spent in local shops and restaurants directly benefits the community that you and your kids live in.