Question: I live in a rural area and don't have the same benefits that some of my competitors in big cities have. What can I do to stay competitive without having to move to a more urban environment?
Question by: Linda
Be a Big Fish
"One of the benefits of living in a smaller locality is that you can more easily become a big fish, albeit in a smaller pond. Take advantage of this by knowing everyone, making strong connections and using your home town as a launch pad to more populated and difficult environments."
Use the Internet to Reach a Wider Audience
"The beauty of having a solid business presence on the Internet is that geographical borders don't matter as much; you don't even need a big budget but what you do need is time. Get Internet savvy -- you can find new customers, better service existing ones and offer new products and services. The Internet can help you level the playing field without having to relocate."
No Barriers to Compete With the Best
"With today's resources, it doesn't matter where you're located or what you think your competitors may have in larger cities. Between Skype, Twitter, Facebook and other resources there's nothing holding you back from competing with the best and the brightest, regardless of what city their in. In today's world, it's more about your mentality towards competition, rather than what you don't have."
Build an Awesome Website
"Since networking or face-to-face meetings probably aren't accessible, your web presence is going to be the biggest factor in clients noticing you. Don't use long-loading flash, be current, fresh, have big call-to-action buttons and easy and engaging copy. Don't try to out-google Google. Display your assets and do so in a way that enhances your brand through strong design. Testimonials are key."
"You have a huge benefit over your competitors who live in big cities: focus and attention. This is precisely the reason I moved to Greenwich, and not NYC. Although there are not many young people around me, I'm entirely focused on my business and clients. If I were in NYC, my attention would be more scattered. Take advantage of this opportunity and the extra time you have in a rural environment!"
Leverage Your Location
"In rural areas, you can always find diamonds in the rough in terms of talent. Plus, since people in rural areas demand lower salaries, you can save yourself a nice penny and still be competitive with some of the best brains without breaking the bank. Not every smart, talented individual wants to move to the city and make it big. They'd rather stay rural and still find success."
Get to Know Everyone
"The great thing about living in a small town is that it's easier to build communities within it. The people are usually friendlier and want to help out people like you. Do your best to get to know every person, business and city official in your area. Their support will trump any advantages that living in a big city supposedly has. "
Make Rural Your Back Story
"Having a unique background and personal story for your customers and clients is an underemphasized facet to standing out. Some clients and customers also prefer rural over urban environments. Showcase this on your company about page so that potential clients who are on the same wavelength can appreciate your grass roots sense of purpose. Many clients who are from smaller towns appreciate this."
Look to the Leaders in Your Area
"Chances are that there are companies in your rural area that are leading the marketplace in some other industry than yours. Look to those who succeed yet do not compete in the urban environment. If they have strategies that work for their products and services, chances are pretty good that they will work for you also. Don't reinvent the wheel, use what is working for others."
Network in the City
"Just because you don't live in a big city, doesn't mean you can't visit a big city. The only advantage to being in a big city is the networking opportunities. So go to events and conferences in the big city, meet people and forge new relationships."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and underemployment and provides entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of their business's development and growth.