Five things that will make a sea change easy

Barnaby Smith

Leaving city life behind for the peace of the countryside is no longer the preserve of retirees.

The changing nature of the workplace and business practice means that many Australians look to make a “sea change” or “tree change” much earlier in life – while they are still very active in business.

Indeed, research from the University of Sydney shows that 79 per cent of those making such a move are under the age of 50.

So here are some essential tips as to how to make small business work in rural settings.

Communication at the core

Many small enterprises in rural areas are online businesses. A fast broadband connection is therefore a must, with dodgy service a problem for many small companies. Anyone making the city-to-country move would be wise to choose a place that has a stable internet connection.

Staffing solutions

If a rural-based business requires employees, one answer might be outsourcing to freelancers and contractors.

However, a long-term option is to establish relationships with local schools and colleges, and offer internships and work experience, thus creating the potential for skilled, knowledgeable workers in the future.   

Make the most of your locale

It is important to emphasise to the wider world how your business takes advantage of your particular locale. Make a big deal of it if your product is locally sourced and if your carbon footprint is small.

Alternatively, you might tailor your business to what the area is known for – for example: tourism or agriculture.

Network locally

In the absence of the some of the competition you might face in the city, there is the chance to develop organic, personal relationships with local businesses and organisations, be they suppliers, clients or regulators.

Also, don’t underestimate the power of promoting your business through posters in the library, ads in the local paper and stalls at markets and events. Word of mouth is essential in a small community.

Go for grants

You may be eligible for government grants designed to assist small business in rural areas. Be sure to gauge your suitability by visiting business.gov.au

Moving to the country can be daunting, and there is no doubt that plenty of hard work and imagination are required when establishing a small business in a rural area. Yet with organisation, research and perseverance, the dream of owning a flourishing business in a beautiful place can be achieved. 

Image: Fraser Mummery, Flickr Creative Commons license

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