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Existing Business to the Country
by Lisa Rogak
Most people dream of starting their own
businesses in a rural area, but if you're already operating your
own business -- and have it pretty well established
-- the odds are good that you'll have an
easier time moving your business than a person who plans to move
to the country and then either start one from scratch or buy
an existing business.
In some cases, a business won't
translate successfully to the country. For instance, you might
as well leave a dog-walking service behind in the city. However,
you can translate this to a pet-sitting service in the country,
if there is a sizable community of people there who travel frequently.
The first thing you should do
is check the Yellow Pages and the Business Services directory
of the local newspaper to see how many competing businesses there
are in your field, and if you think that the surrounding community
would need one more. Call the people who will refer business
to you -- in the case of a pet-sitting service,
contact local veterinarians. If there already are a number of
similar businesses, then find out what niche is not being served
and do some more digging to discover if the market is there.
If you already have a home-based
business that is based on a nationwide market, your move will
be easy. All you have to do is send out change of address cards,
load the moving van, and go.
In scouting out a particular
area, the first thing you should do is to contact the local chamber
of commerce in the town, county and state where you want to relocate
your business. Contact them all because each will provide a different
perspective on the area's economic activity and outlook, and
how it pertains to your business. It's likely that your contact
at each place will ask you if you'd like some assistance in your
search, and -- with your permission --
will pass your name along to realtors, other business owners
in the area, and suppliers.
One thing you will want to check
before you move to a rural area is the zoning, which is especially
important with a home business. You should find out about any
provisions or restrictions that may apply to your particular
business and the house and land that you want to rent or buy.
And be careful: even though the previous owner may have run a
home business in the same place, he may actually have been in
violation of the local zoning ordinance for years but because
he was related to one of the local politicians and the town decided
to look the other way.
Here are some steps you can take
to ensure your own success once you move to a rural area.
- Once there, get involved in
the local community. Sponsor a Little League team, donate your
products or services to a local community-based auction, and
volunteer your business at other events.
- Network, network, network. Join
the chamber of commerce and attend the meetings. Follow up with
business lunches, drop by other members' businesses, and use
the services of other members.
- Pass along any extra business
to other similar companies in town. This is a great way to cement
future business relationships, and they'll do the same for you
in the future.
- Send announcements to your new
local press about your impending move. You may even start to
hear from other business owners in the area as well as from prospective
- After you've moved, schedule
an open house for members of the community and other business
owners. Offer free refreshments and samples of your product.
Send a press release to the local paper announcing the event
and try to get on a few radio shows.
- Lisa Rogak is the author of The
Complete Country Business Guide: Everything You Need to Know
to Become a Rural Entrepreneur, and 25 other books on
small business. You can order her book at Amazon.com
or by calling 800-639-1099.