While major metropolitan areas and cities seem ideal locations for entrepreneurs looking to get their business idea off the ground, going rural may be a better choice for your start-up.
Although agricultural businesses are naturally the most common type of business in rural areas, improvements in local infrastructure and internet connectivity means a wide range of sectors and business types can reap the benefits of a rural location.
Indeed, rural businesses are booming with 23% (549,000) of registered businesses opens in new window in England now situated in rural areas, employing over 3.6 million people across various industries.
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Benefits of starting a rural business
Living in a beautiful countryside location may by itself seem like the perfect antidote to the stress and costs that afflict city dwellers but there are many other benefits to setting up your business in a rural setting.
For start-ups that don’t require a high footfall or physical presence on the high street, rural offices, workshops, and premises can be attractive.
With rents typically lower than city centres and space for storage such as warehousing more readily available, some start-ups may be better suited to rural locations.
According to Lloyds Bank opens in new window, British workers spend 492 days commuting and £37,399 over their lifetime on travel costs.
If you factor in the price of commuting, setting up a business in a rural area where you already live should save you money on fuel and transport costs.
In addition, along with small business rate relief, in England you could get rural rate relief if your business is in a rural area with a population below 3,000.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland offer similar business rates relief schemes for rural businesses.
If you are interested in funding and financial support for your business, various UK government schemes are listed at gov.uk opens in new window.
Increasing customer numbers
According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Rural Proofing in England report opens in new window, people moving to rural areas has more than doubled over the last decade.
Rural areas are now home to 9.5 million people – nearly one-fifth of the population in England – and the UK Government plans to support new housing development in rural areas.
Its Affordable Homes Programme, which aims to provide 180,000 new homes across England, calls for 10% of these new homes to be built in rural areas.
Rural areas used to have a reputation for being isolated from amenities essential to businesses.
Forget the time of no broadband and unpaved roads; the infrastructure of rural regions has vastly improved.
The Rural Proofing in England report opens in new window details infrastructure investment across a range of services, including:
- deployment fund of £5bn to install gigabit broadband in rural areas, with 85% coverage by 2025
- investment of £4.8bn from the UK Levelling Up Fund
- ensuring rural Post Offices are supported with a £50 million subsidy
- investment of £1bn to increase mobile 4G coverage to 95% by 2025, reaching an additional 280,000 rural premises and 16,000km of rural roads
- a £500 million Restoring Your Railway Fund which aims to reopen lines and stations, reconnecting smaller communities.
Loyal customer base
According to a global report opens in new window, 46% of UK consumers believe supporting local businesses is essential.
Barclaycard’s Lockdown Legacies research opens in new window has found that nearly two thirds (64%) of people in the UK choose to shop closer to their homes and continue to support local, independent businesses since the pandemic.
If you’re located in a rural area and selling a service or product that meets community needs, customers may come to you instead of travelling elsewhere or buying big-name brands.
The key to maximising support and sales is researching the products and services required in your local area.
Would-be entrepreneurs can take advantage of various rural events such as country fairs, festivals, and farmer’s markets to meet potential customers face-to-face.
A wider pool of talent
Recruitment can sometimes be a challenge for rural business with big cities being a beacon for ambitious talent, making it hard to find suitable employees who live locally.
However, with the trend for working from home set to continue, there is an opportunity for rural businesses that operate online to find staff who can work remotely from anywhere.
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Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.