Rural entrepreneurs sow seeds of success

Small business in the countryside are booming, contrary to popular belief, report finds

Small businesses in the countryside are dynamic and thriving, contrary to perceptions of struggling rural firms, new research has revealed.

A study by the Federation of Small Business (FSB) found that small businesses were the main employers in the countryside, with entrepreneurs often the hub of village life.

Nearly six in ten small rural firms hoped to expand, with just three per cent wanting to downsize and just two per cent planning to close.

Almost half of rural entrepreneurs started up their business in the last five years, with a diverse range of firms existing in the countryside.

Nearly two in ten rural entrepreneurs operate in retail, wholesale and motor trades, 12 per cent provide business services and manufacturing while 11 per cent are in agriculture.

Contrary to the belief that rural businesses are hostile to new technology, 71 per cent have internet access, with 10 per cent using broadband, despite its limited availability in remote areas.

This use of technology means that 35 per cent of rural small firms work from home, compared to just 20 per cent of their urban counterparts.

However, the FSB said that the migration of businesses to the cities is expected to increase in coming years. The lobby group said the following measures needed to be taken to boost rural firms:

  • Better transport infrastructure
  • Increased broadband usage
  • Transparent and appropriate planning
  • Streamlined training
  • Devolved decision making
  • Save local services
  • Investigate supermarket bullying of small stores

John Holbrow, of the FSB, said that the opportunities for small businesses in the countryside are endless.

“However, the correct infrastructure and business support must be in place for small employers to best exploit the economy wherever they are located,” he said.

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