Why Small Businesses Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Operating in Rural Areas

Normally, the blog posts you read here at Love Small Town America are brought to you  by members of the staff. We delight in sharing our thoughts with you. But we know that there is a whole, wide world of people out there with thoughts and opinions that relate to small town growth and prosperity and today we’re excited to bring you our first guest post, from Phillip J. Reed on behalf of Exede. We were not compensated for this content – we just thought it might make an interesting read for all of you! Access to high speed internet is crucial to the success of small towns and especially small town businesses like ours, so this topic resonates with us. We’d love to hear what you think. Leave us a comment!

Why Small Businesses Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Operating in Rural Areas

By Philip J. Reed, on behalf of Exede

When entrepreneurs think about starting their own business, they usually do not consider rural areas as an attractive place for investment. In fact, many business owners are scared to establish a company in a rural area. However, we know that rural areas provide businesses with many advantages that cannot be matched by large cities. Although that list of advantages is almost endless, we will give you just the five best reasons to establish a business in rural America.

Reliable Communication Infrastructure

One of the most persistent misconceptions about creating businesses in rural areas is that there is a lack of infrastructure, especially when it comes to reliable communication technology. Businesses must have access to telephones and the Internet in order to stay in touch with customers, suppliers and workers.

Fortunately, modern advancements in technology have narrowed the gap between rural and urban areas with respect to communication infrastructure. For instance, penetration rates for broadband Internet access have already reached 75 percent in rural areas, and this number will only increase as more satellite Internet providers offer their services to rural customers.

Lower Business Costs

On average, business owners do tend to have more pricing power in urban areas, which have residents who earn more money than their rural counterparts. However, when it comes to profit calculations, prices are only half of the story.

Business owners must also consider the costs of doing business in a given area, and those costs are often far less in rural areas. Most of the major inputs for a business – land, labor and materials – are much cheaper in places where there is less competition for resources. Unlike rural areas, that competition can be fierce in cities.

This helps to explain one of the defining trends in America over the past thirty years: the migration of companies to the Sun Belt. Desperate to avoid the high costs in congested urban areas, many businesses have flocked to the rural areas in the South. This trend will only continue as more businesses come to appreciate all the benefits of rural living.

Loyal Customer Base

Rural areas tend to be very close-knit communities. Whereas cities are usually filled with groups of strangers, people in rural areas have much stronger social connections that bind them to their neighbors.

The same thing also applies to rural businesses, which can develop better relationships with their customers. A typical urban business may have hundreds or even thousands of customers in a given day; there is no way for those business owners to establish any deep connections with them.

Therefore, rural businesses that treat their customers well tend to garner more loyalty from the community. Word of mouth is a very strong marketing tactic in rural areas; residents will listen to their friends and frequent businesses that receive a good recommendation. This repeat business is especially valuable to entrepreneurs who are attempting to get their companies established in a new area.

Fewer Competitors

Although many business owners focus on the fact that rural areas have fewer total customers than city or suburban areas, they fail to consider the logical flip side of this observation: Rural businesses also have fewer competitors.

For instance, if you were thinking about opening a restaurant, you might think that New York City would be a great place to sell your culinary delights. With a population of more than eight million people who are confined to a relatively small area, New York City would seem like the ideal place to establish your business.

However, many other restaurateurs have already come to the same conclusion, which is why there are 4,200 dining establishments in the five boroughs of New York City. If you come to any small town in rural America you will not see the kind of competition that leads to price wars, which reduce the profits of every business owner in an industry.

Business-Friendly Governments

In general, cities impose more burdens on business owners than rural areas. Not only do cities tend to extract more money in taxes, but they also enact more regulations that increase costs for small businesses.

Alternatively, rural governments tend to work hard to attract new business owners by providing beneficial tax breaks and offering other business-friendly policies. Unlike cities that have thousands of companies, rural areas never take their businesses for granted.
In CNBC’s latest list of business-friendly states, three of the top five states – Virginia, North Carolina and North Dakota – had rural populations that were higher than the national average. The message is clear: Rural America is a great place to start a business.

Conclusion

It should be clear by now that business owners can thrive in rural areas. With low taxes, loyal customers and reliable broadband satellite Internet, rural businesses have access to a unique business environment that helps nurture success. Therefore, if you are a business owner, come join us and enjoy the many benefits of rural living!

Cruise, Shoes & Barbecues – A Small Town Celebration Worth Remembering

Classic cars are the "Cruise" part of the Cruise, Shoes & BBQs fundraiser in Grainfield, KS. The car show draws participants from all around.

This post is brought to you by Nicole Godek, CEO and Founder of Love Small Town America. 

My husband has a very creative mind. The ideas he comes up with typically don’t pan out, but it’s always entertaining to hear what he’s thinking. On occasion, one of his ideas works really well, however. Cruise, Shoes & BBQs is one of them.

Living in Grainfield, we often hear people say, “Remember Ag Days? They were so fun!” Fair-style rides. Parades and marching bands. Vendors in the park. Tons of people coming from all over. The image of Ag Days is still fresh in my mind. As I shared memories of that event with Dan, the wheels started turning on how to bring people to Grainfield again. Dan’s passion for BBQ seemed like an easy start. Then we added the rhyming words “Cruise” and “Shoes”. And Cruise, Shoes & BBQs was born.

Some of the volunteers behind the Cruise, Shoes and BBQs fundraiser in Grainfield, KS.

The first year Grainfield’s Harvest Market hosted the event with help from family and friends. The response was amazing! But we needed more hands to grow it. So, the Grainfield Community Development Committee took over and Cruise, Shoes & BBQs will celebrate 5 years next Memorial Day weekend!

This year marked Cruise, Shoes & BBQs’ 4th anniversary. The fundraiser is always hosted over Memorial Day weekend and this year, the two days were packed with entertainment. Friday evening featured a social in the park, vending from the BBQ teams, and a live performance at the historic Opera House (hosted by the Lions Club & Opera House Committee).

Saturday started with cars, motorcycles and a boat cruising in for the namesake Car Show. The barbecue competition is a big part of the weekend, and the aroma of BBQ in the air easily draws in a crowd! Horseshoes began around 10 A.M. on Saturday as did the kids’ activities.

Smoke pours out of the competitors' area where teams craft their best barbecue entries to be judged at the annual BBQ competition.

After a full day of fun, the barbecue competition awards presentation began at 3 P.M. with the buffet at 4:30 P.M. The buffet draws a big crowd since everyone wants to sample the BBQ teams’ pork and brisket. Then we rounded out the day with a dance. This year we offered a live performance from Uncle Turtle and the Live Action (a Gove County favorite) and it was a big hit.

A clown was on hand as part of the kids' activities at the annual Memorial Day weekend fundraiser. The clown was such a hit, he has already been booked for next year's event!

If we could have picked the worst day out of the year for weather, I think we did. There are only so many things you can plan ahead for and weather is not one of them. But despite the 50mph gusts and 100 degree temperature, everyone had a positive attitude. We are grateful that Marvin Beougher let us move the live music and dance into the American Legion. That saved us…and the many people that stuck around after the buffet.

Festivities carried on long into the night after the BBQ competition with a dance. The Grainfield American Legion generously allowed the event to move inside due to high winds. What a wonderful show of community support and fellowship!

My favorite part of the event is probably seeing so many people in Grainfield having a great time. We’re starting to make a name for ourselves and see people return year after year. It reminds me of “Cheers” when everyone yelled “Norm!” It’s those personal relationships that mean the most.

This year we added a clown and the kids loved him! He was amazing and his wife painted some incredible face art. (We’ve already booked them for next year!) We’re making improvements for next year, hoping to make it a Saturday/Sunday event instead of Friday/Saturday. We lose a lot of people to the high school state track meet (helpers and attendees) so we’re hoping to gain them back. Plus, by moving the event to Saturday/Sunday, BBQ teams and volunteers won’t have to take off work Friday.

An authentic native American tipi was on display during this year's 4th annual Cruise, Shoes & BBQs fundraiser in Grainfield, KS, withstanding high temperatures and even higher wind gusts.

I think people should come out to our event because you never know what you’re going to see in our small town. Last year we had a pig dancing on the dance floor. This year we had an authentic Tipi in the park (that withstood the wind!). Who knows what you’ll see next year. But guaranteed you’ll have a great time. And 40 years from now, hopefully we’ll hear people say, “Remember Cruise, Shoes & BBQs? That was so fun!”

-Nicole

 

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