The digital age has brought levels of freedom that we would not have thought possible a generation ago. It allows us to work when we want and from where we want, providing that holy grail of modern living, the legendary “work life balance.” It has also made it easier and cheaper to set up your own business working from home than it has ever been before.
Here amid the beautiful Cornish countryside, families used to come for a week’s holiday or a long weekend and talk wistfully about not wanting to go home, or “retiring here one day.” Come to think of it, they still do, but now, there’s nothing to stop the home business owner from living, and therefore working, in the location of his or her choosing.
But running a business from the heart of the countryside and far from major cities is not without its challenges.
If you are operating a digital business, there is one thing you need above all else, and that is a solid and reliable internet connection. According to a report by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), almost half a million small businesses in the UK do not have access to superfast broadband. Ofcom confirms that 190,000 have download speeds of less than 10Mbps.
A case in point is Andy Beresford, who runs a company called Home Leisure Direct, based in a small village in Gloucestershire. He’s been campaigning for two years for BT to extend the fibre broadband to his village – as it stands, he has a connection speed of less than 1Mbps.
The FSB is lobbying for a universal service obligation that will provide every home and small business with superfast broadband by 2020, but in the meantime, it pays to check the connectivity speed before you commit to a move to the country.
Supplies and services
Every business needs supplies of one sort or another, and it can seem strange not to be able to pop into your local store to get what you need. In a rural setting, you really need to embrace ecommerce. There are not many things you can’t do online, and often you’ll find you save money. For example, Printerinks stock every ink cartridge imaginable and at prices that can even undercut the supermarkets.
You will also need the most flexible online banking services available. For home banking, you can already do pretty much everything you need to online or through an app. Business banking can be a little different, so choose your bank wisely. It’s still worth choosing one that has a branch in a town or village nearby, for those occasions when only face-to-face will do.
You might be flying solo at the start, but if you have plans to expand, you might need to recruit. In a tiny village, this can be a problem – in fact, if you watched the episode of Dragon’s Den that featured Cocoa Mountain, you might remember that it was their location that put the dragons off investing.
However, as the Scottish chocolate factory proved, with determination and the right work ethic, your new enterprise can become a core part of helping the local community to thrive, providing much needed employment opportunities.