Moving Your Existing Business to the Country

Many people dream of moving to the country. Lisa Rogak talks practically about how to make a living from your new country home.

Most people dream of starting their own businesses in a rural area, but if you're already operating your own business--and have it pretty well established--the odds are good that you'll have an easier time moving your business than a person who plans to move to the country and then either start one from scratch or buy an existing business.

In some cases, a business won't translate successfully to the country. For instance, you might as well leave a dogwalking service behind in the city. However, you can translate this to a pet-sitting service in the country, if there is a sizable community of people there who travel frequently.

The first thing you should do is check the Yellow Pages and the Business Services directory of the local newspaper to see how many competing businesses there are in your field, and if you think that the surrounding community would need one more. Call the people who will refer business to you--in the case of a pet-sitting service, contact local veterinarians. If there already are a number of similar businesses, then find out what niche is not being served and do some more digging to discover if the market is there.

If you already have a home-based business that is based on a nationwide market, your move will be easy. All you have to do is send out change of address cards, load the moving van, and go.

In scouting out a particular area, contact the local Chambers of Commerce in the town, county and state where you want to relocate your business. Contact them all; each will provide a different perspective on the area's economic activity and outlook, and how it pertains to your business. It's likely that your contact at each place will ask you if you'd like some assistance in your search, and--with your permission--will pass your name along to realtors, other business owners in the area, and suppliers.

One thing you will want to check before you move to a rural area is the zoning, which is especially important with a home business. You should find out about any provisions or restrictions that may apply to your particular business and the house and land that you want to rent or buy. And be careful: even though the previous owner may have run a home business in the same place, s/he may actually have been in violation of the local zoning ordinance for years but because of friendship with a local politician, the town decided to look the other way.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure your own success once you move to a rural area.

  • Once there, get involved in the local community. Sponsor a Little League team, donate your products or services to a local community-based auction, and volunteer your business at other events.
  • Network, network, network. Join the Chamber of Commerce and attend the meetings. Follow up with business lunches, drop by other members' businesses, and use the services of other members.
  • Pass along any extra business to other similar companies in town. This is a great way to cement future business relationships, and they'll do the same for you in the future.
  • Send announcements to your new local press about your impending move. You may even start to hear from other business owners in the area as well as from prospective employees. To ensure an easy experience in moving your stuff, you can hire a moving company like Mayflower.
  • After you've moved, schedule an open house for members of the community and other business owners. Offer free refreshments and samples of your product. Send a press release to the local paper announcing the event and try to get on a few radio shows.

    Excerpted from Lisa Rogak's book, The Complete Country Business Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Become a Rural Entrepreneur, and 25 other books on small business. You can order her book at 800-639-1099.


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