#568 – What rural people say they need

Posted on | The Agurban

We are pleased to share with you a post from our good friend Becky McCray. Becky is a small town business owner in Hopeton, Oklahoma, a community of 30 people. In 2006, Becky started her Small Biz Survival blog to teach small town entrepreneurs simple actions to put into place to save their towns. Following is a great article about Becky’s work:

What rural people say they need: The Survey of Rural Challenges

We all know what rural towns need, right? They need jobs, and to recruit some manufacturing, and they have a huge poverty problem. Right? Well, no. At least that’s not what rural people told me.

Earlier this year, I ran a survey of subscribers and visitors on SmallBizSurvival.com. Over 200 people who identified themselves as rural shared with me what challenges they wanted help with for their small towns and their rural businesses.

The challenges they picked were not the usual suspects.

When describing their community, people selected a set of inter-related challenges, of bringing life and activity to their towns, so their businesses will prosper and young people will choose to stay and other people will want to visit. That’s a much more nuanced view of community development than we usually give rural people credit for understanding.

Most of the people surveyed also owned businesses. Adapting to being open later hours was their most-selected challenge. Marketing was the second most-commonly-chosen challenge. And in the open-ended answers, marketing got mentioned over and over. Clearly, getting the word out about your business is still a big issue, even in small towns.

There were a few surprises. Not many people mentioned jobs or poverty, which are the stereotype of rural challenges. Very few people mentioned a business gap in their community. We hear a lot about filling gaps, so that surprised me. More business people cited difficulty finding usable buildings in their town than difficulty finding a business loan, which also runs contrary to the usual stories.

I was struck by how often the lack of cooperation came up. We just don’t work together very well, from town leaders to local businesses. That’s something we can all work on.

Business issues seemed to fall into the pattern of the The 7 Most Common Weaknesses of Local Shops, and that’s something else we can work on.

And of course we can work on bringing more life and activity to town.

To learn more about Becky’s work and how it can benefit your community, visit Small Biz Survival.