We live in a time when the world is more connected than it’s ever been before, and business, as a result of this, is often something that’s conducted on a national or global stage, rather than a local one.
Recent years have, for example, seen the dramatic rise in the phenomenon of the “Digital Nomad” and the “solopreneur,” both terms that refer to a type of entrepreneur who is unmoored from the traditional structures of business, or to any particular location in question.
Then, of course, there’s the phenomenon of transnational corporations establishing branches all over the place, and often displacing local businesses as a result.
Against such a backdrop as this, anyone who wants to create a successful local business is in for a number of challenges. And yet, if you’re embedded in a cohesive community such as the Village of Roselle, there are plenty of reasons why you might still want to create a local business after all.
Here are a few suggestions on how to go about the process, so that you might have the best chances of succeeding.
Running a successful local business is largely a matter of being an active and involved a member of a local community. So, if you’ve got the idea in mind of starting a local business, don’t just search for villages and towns that seem like they may be a good setting, and then storm in out of nowhere with your business idea in tow.
You’re going to be trying to sell your services to the people in the community in question, and you will rely on the relationships you can forge with those people, and on their goodwill, to actually get them turning up at your store, or using your services, as opposed to going to a larger more faceless corporation.
Ideally, if you’re going to set up a local business, it will be in a community that you’ve been a part of for a while, and are well integrated into already. But, if you’re planning to start up your local business, and move to a small community simultaneously, perhaps as a way of getting away from city life, you’ve got to work on becoming an active force in the community in general.
This can mean various different things. It can mean joining local societies and clubs, it can mean engaging in local charitable drives, interacting on a regular basis with local business people, and maybe volunteering.
Either way, don’t just sit in your home, refuse to interact with anyone, and then expect them to all flock to your new business and treat you like their best friend once you’ve got things up and running.
Assuming the local community you’re operating within is actually a community, rather than an atomised dormitory settlement where no one really knows each other or cares, then you’re going to need to get a sense of what the people in the community want, and the culture they embody, before you can serve it.
“Serve” is a good term to use here, too. Because what you're essentially going to be doing is identifying a “need” that exists among the members of the community, and then doing what you can to offer a particular service to fulfil that need, or that resolves a particular problem.
Of course, this is a maxim for success in business, in general.
As mentioned earlier, in order to make a local business successful, you need to be able to do things well, not just be easily accessible. Because, these days, hundreds, if not thousands of other companies that may be based on the other side of the country will also be “easily accessible” via the Internet and rapid shipping.
In your mission to identify what it is the local community wants, and to serve that want effectively, you should strongly consider utilising surveys and questionnaires.
Simply standing out on the high street with a clipboard – and maybe with a few friends who are also doing the same thing – and having passers-by answer some well-formulated questions, can give you a lot of good material to work with.
Of course, “well-formulated questions” are likely going to be a bit of an art to pull off. Begin by working out how your particular skill set could be utilised to run a business in the local community, and then develop questions to try and identify the ways in which you can manifest that skill in the most useful way.
High street businesses are dying all around the developed world, largely because major companies, coming from outside, absolutely crush them, and then to add insult to injury, sometimes pull out and leave the community hollow as a result.
If you’re planning to set up a local business, and you want it to thrive over time, do what you can to create local jobs and opportunities, as opposed to undermining them.
If you set yourself in direct opposition to a well-established and much beloved local company, and hire all your staff from other areas of the country, via a remote working scheme, you will essentially be responsible for an “attack” on the health and well-being of local business.
If that happens, you should not expect to be very well received.
If, on the other hand, you become someone who increases the net opportunities in the community, and are seen as “giving something back,” the odds are much higher that you will succeed and thrive at what you do.
Of course, you should also be careful when establishing your business that you aren’t entering a doomed niche. If, for example, a major corporation is due to create a rival business to your own within the next few years, in the local area, that doesn’t bode well for you.
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