The Rural Ideas Network originated in Iowa, a state in which more than 75% of counties are rural. We know first-hand how beautiful rural life can be - open natural spaces, low cost of living, and friendly neighbors. We also know starting and running a small business in a rural area can present unique challenges, but there are also several advantages that can be leveraged. Here are some business tips for rural small businesses owners:
1. Understand your market.
As we know, rural communities each have their own individual identity. It's important to understand the local market and the needs of the community. This includes knowing what products or services are in demand, what may be missing, what competitors are offering, and what sets your business apart.
2. Build relationships.
In a small town, building relationships with customers and other local businesses is not only beneficial but crucial for future success. Get involved in community events, offer sponsorships, and network with other business owners.
3. Leverage technology.
Although at times limited in rural areas, technology can be a powerful tool for small businesses. Establish an online presence through social media and a website, and consider using technology to streamline operations or expand your reach. Having this presence is important inside and outside of your own community.
4. Focus on customer service and customer input.
Providing exceptional customer service can set your business apart from competitors and build customer loyalty. Train your staff to be friendly, knowledgeable, and responsive to customer needs. Go out of your way to make sure your customers feel valued and get their feedback. This will develop a lasting relationship where they continue to support you and your business.
Eric Dregne, a business coach with the Rural Ideas Network, says,” I often see opportunities for businesses to get input from their customers to help them grow. Whether you are a startup doing customer discovery to explore a new idea in the market or an established company looking for new ways to serve your customers, asking customers for input and using what you hear to launch or grow is always good business”
5. Diversify your offerings.
To appeal to a broader customer base, consider diversifying your offerings. Do you have a product you could expand on or another local business you could partner with? This could include adding complementary products or services, wholesale opportunities, expanding your hours, or offering delivery or online ordering.
6. Manage your finances carefully.
Rural small businesses may face unique financial challenges, such as fluctuating demand or limited access to funding. Monitor your cash flow carefully, plan for seasonal fluctuations, and explore funding options such as grants or loans. Talk to your local financial institution to see what options are available in your area.
By following these business tips, you can set your rural small businesses up for long-term success. The Rural Ideas Network sparks growth for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ecosystems in rural communities. To join the network and connect with one of our coaches, visit us at https://www.ruralideas.net/join.