Challenges for Rural Retail

SmallBiz Survival is an excellent website and blog, run by Becky McCray, an Alva, Oklahoma-based entrepreneur and champion for small business owners operating in rural America.  In addition to being a great resource for small business owner, Becky and her colleagues often undertake their own research on what’s happening with rural business.  The latest helpful entry is their 2015 Survey of Rural Challenges, an informal survey of what keeps rural entrepreneurs up at night.  Most of the surveyed respondents operate small town retail operations.  Their top business issues include challenges with effective marketing and promotion, the need to hire more help (with limited resources, and a need for new and updated business ideas.   Meanwhile, small business owners noted that their business challenges did not derive due to local poverty or a lack of local jobs.  In fact, workforce shortages are a higher concern than a need to spur new job creation or attract new businesses to town.  The survey did not identify a strong demand for new business loans—business owners want help with the nitty gritty issues of finding customers, growing their markets, and operating in an attractive and desirable rural downtown setting.   While the survey results are probably not surprising to many, they are yet another reminder of the many challenges facing rural entrepreneurs.  It should also further remind us all to continue to buy local and support them—not just on Small Business Saturday, but every day.

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