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Entrepreneur Mom

with Aliza Sherman

If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.

To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website, www.mediaegg.com.

14 Tips for Really Rural Businesses

Categories: Business Essentials, Tech & Net, Uncategorized

3 comments

view from the house in Lander, WYI’ve worked in many rural areas including Lander, Wyoming (Pop: 7800) where if the wind blew just a little too hard, my Internet connection went down - and you know how the wind blows in Wyoming! I’ve even worked from an old RV on the road, in state parks and at other campgrounds. And soon, I’ll be working from my new home in Tok, Alaska (Pop: 1800) along the Alaska Highway.

Here are some of my tips for working from remote and rural areas. I also turned to a Twitterfriend, Becky McCray, who provides some additional tips. I’ll introduce her after the jump.

Doing Business in Rural Places

1. Invest in fast Internet access. Sometimes it has to be satellite which can be pricey, but you can write it off your taxes as a valid and essential business expense.

2. Identify wifi hotspots - or Internet-enabled locations - in your area. If my Internet connection went down, I’d drive into town to connect at a cafe or restaurant or even a hotel or campground. Some McDonalds and Wendys even offer wifi so find out which businesses are wired and use them as backup when your access goes down.

3. Stock up on car chargers. Even when house power went out - particularly in my RV - I could rev up the engine and power up my essential tools and gadgets including computer and mobile devices. Invest in a USB car charger to charge your handhelds such as the SynCh from Malleable Devices.*

4. Sign up for shipping accounts. FEDEX, UPS, DHL - they all claim to reach from every door to door. Find out which ones offer the most reliable pick up and shipping services and take advantage of their services to save yourself time and the cost of gas driving to town to ship things.

5. Join online forums or social networks. Isolation can be hard when you’re living in a rural area and your nearest neighbor is miles away. Stay connected with peers by joining social networks relevant to your industry or other professional networks where you can get answers to business questions, hear about the latest trends or just have contact with other people.

Small Biz Survival

I asked Becky McCray, a rural small business expert, for some of her tips for very rural small businesses. Becky blogs at Small Biz Survival. She is also a small town entrepreneur, the co-owner of a liquor store and cattle ranch. She writes about small business and rural issues based on her own successes and failures. As a consultant, she helps small businesses and small town governments to get things funded and get things done.

Here’s what she advises:

6. Don’t forget the library for wifi or public internet access.

7. Look for online support and advice from professionals, like business counselors with the Small Business Development Center. (Note from Aliza: A good example is WyomingEntrepreneur.biz. Disclaimer: They are one of my clients, however, they are delving more and more into social media to interact with Wyoming entrepreneurs, particularly those in remote areas.)

8. Take advantage of online resources, like Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com, or WillItFly.com.

9. Take advantage of small town friendliness to find your local support services. For example, who will receive a package for you? Besides the office supply, where can you make a quick photocopy? In my town, you could try the library, the post office, or the bank.  Think about what services you are likely to need, before you need them.

10. Be sure you track your mileage every time you drive somewhere for business. That trip to the state capital or county seat to file some obscure form? Deductible.

11. Consider your business insurance coverage. Rates can be cheaper in rural areas, so don’t just ignore it. Especially consider general liability to protect you from many different risks and equipment coverage to replace any business equipment, because home owner’s insurance typically won’t cover it.

12. Check for small business services at your local schools, including junior colleges and technical schools. Even in small towns, many have an economic development person, a business incubator, or a business support service. You may be able to access wifi, equipment, basic services, a conference room or even high quality video conferencing at low or no cost.

13. Have local utilities or cooperatives? Ask what business services or consulting they provide. You might be surprised!

14. Join relevant trade associations. Extra connections within your industry can help you network and improve your skills.

You may be rural and remote, but you are not alone!

Are you doing business from rural and remote places? How do you stay connected, save time, save money, and not just survive but thrive?

*disclaimer: they are also one of my consulting clients…



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3 comments so far...

  • I recommend buying everything with a airline mileage-pegged rewards card. That way, you have a stash of miles to use on short-notice when you want to network with other far-flung businesspeople. Sometimes it’s a conference. Sometimes it’s a client. Sometimes it’s to get family members out of the house! In Alaska, I w-a-a-y prefer their BofA co-branded mileage card, because it comes with a $50 companion fare. But if you live in rural Alabama (like my in-laws), you’re better off to go with DL’s SkyMiles Amex card. Plus, that works at Costco. Part of being out-in-the-stix, IMHO, is your nimble ability to go “urban” at a moment’s notice when your business demands it. Those miles come in real handy.

    Scott McMurren  |  October 16th, 2008 at 4:35 pm

  • Being a localvore and staunch environmentalist, and living in a small rural community, there are more challenges if one doesn’t want to add fuel miles to many daily business acitivities. How about a solar charger for the laptop at least part of the year? Combined chores on each and every trip including via airlines. The era of cheap oil is soon over, and better to rethink activities and tools required now. Another trend is the realization that local economies must become stronger in order to survive, and that includes local food sources. Lots of online resources dealing with that issue. Time are changing very fast.

    Dani  |  October 16th, 2008 at 5:24 pm

  • [...] more tips like these on WorkIt Mom, 14 Tips for Really Rural Businesses. I found the link via Small Biz [...]

    3 (+14) Tips for Rural Small Businesses | Infusion Blog  |  October 17th, 2008 at 10:08 pm