There are undoubtedly challenges to setting up business in the countryside but in this blog, I will argue that there are also benefits.
Obviously, for some businesses, such as those related to agriculture, leisure and tourism, a rural location is essential for access to customers, but it is taking a somewhat narrow view in an ever-more connected world to discount the possibility of moving out or setting up away from an urban location.
There are plenty of examples of all types of business, from digital media companies to engineering, already to be found in rural areas.
The drawbacks to setting up business in the countryside
High on the list of drawbacks are the adequacy or otherwise of the IT and transport infrastructures and the availability of employees.
For a business that relies heavily on IT and a decent broadband speed with uninterrupted access can be a problem. In theory, however, this is a problem that is already being addressed by the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK scheme albeit not quickly enough to suit some businesses.
The transport infrastructure may be more of an issue if your business needs access to a decent road system for the delivery of either goods or services, especially if you need access for HGVs, or to be sure that employees can get to work on time.
It is worth investigating the likelihood of planned work on roads with the local authority when considering a rural location.
Employees are also key, especially if you are moving location. While some people might be happy to move most are likely to need cars to get to work. The other issue is recruitment which can be a critical factor if you need skilled staff since they may not be locally available.
Amenities may be another issue, as rural areas experience a diminishing supply of local bank branches, post offices and village shops.
The benefits to setting up business in the countryside
A rural location does not have to be somewhere deep in the heart of a green landscape, although there are plenty of farms that have converted redundant barns into small business centres, if that appeals.
Scattered throughout the UK are plenty of small towns, many of which have industrial estates on their outskirts. It is quite possible that setting up your business on one of these will mean that in addition to a potentially more reliable IT and transport service, there will also be opportunities for collaboration with other, neighbouring businesses.
Equally, the cost savings may be considerable, not least on business rates, and it is often easier to access business support grants and other funding specifically directed at business in the countryside.
Recruitment and staff retention may also be easier as more and more housing estates are developed in smaller towns and those living on them may appreciate the opportunity to use their professional qualifications and skills to work locally rather than face a lengthy daily commute to an urban centre.
If you are thinking of setting up a business in the countryside it is also worth investigating the local crime figures. On the whole, it is still the case that the figures are lower outside of the urban areas but check with the local police for any schemes that that focus on protecting businesses.
There may be challenges to setting up a business in the countryside, but it is a mistake to discount the option without proper investigation.