December 2017
The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
5 Reasons to Consider Opening a Business or New Branch in Rural Canada


5 Reasons to Consider Opening a Business or New Branch in Rural Canada

If your business is based in a large town or city consider the benefits of starting a new business, opening a new branch, buying another business, or even re-locating to a rural location. This may sound contradictory to good business - after all more population means more sales right?

Well yes, in principle, but there are plenty of reasons why opening up in small town Canada can be rewarding, both financially and in terms of your lifestyle. Here are five things to consider when thinking of becoming a ruralpreneur:

  1. There's a lot to be said for being a big fish in a small pond - you will be supporting a local community and be looked up to as an important business leader, rather than being small fry (pun intended) in a big city. You will get to know your customers better and it'll be far easier to build a loyal customer base.
  2. You may think there is limited business in a small town, but here's the thing - commercial space often costs less, and the overall cost of living compensates at least in part for lower sales. Not only that, small towns almost always have a selection of small businesses for sale at very reasonable prices that can give you a head start on launching that new venture. As huge numbers of baby boomers retire, the selection of businesses for sale has never been better.
  3. Your financial risk is lower in a small town. In larger towns and cities you'll almost certainly have to commit to longer leases, and the more business you expect the larger the inventory you'll need to carry, the more staff you'll require, and that all means increased financial exposure.
  4. It's a slower pace of life out in the 'burbs - you'll feel more in control of your life. Being self-employed in rural Canada means living in a place "where everyone knows your name" - and you'll be on first name basis with your customers. And - consider the non-commute!
  5. Rural communities invest in themselves and their futures - being an integral part of the growth and sustainability of your town can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. Being self-employed in a rural community means you can actually make a difference.

5 Tips on Starting a Business in Rural Canada

  1. Look for under-serviced niches. What products and services are locals driving to the nearest large town or city to obtain? Is this a need you could satisfy?
  2. When looking at potential products and services make sure it's something people need on a regular basis, not just occasionally. For example, while people may only buy expensive jewelry once a year, they need inkjet cartridges every few months, and coffee several times a day.
  3. Look at established, successful businesses - is there a product or service they need which is not being sufficiently met by existing local suppliers? For example, graphic design, bookkeeping, office equipment/supplies etc.
  4. If you are a micro-business, typical rural opportunities that are often successful include: home cleaning; construction; handyman/person; courier/transport; hair salon; children's daycare; senior care; tutoring; specialist organic produce supplier. There are many more and much will depend on the needs of the community, your skills, and what areas are being under-serviced. And don't forget that if you buy an existing business it will come with loyal customers ready to support you as the new owner.
  5. Just because your business is rural, doesn't mean all your customers need to be local. If you are selling a product, or a service that can be carried out remotely, consider an online component to your business, this will allow you to supplement local income with customers from across the country or beyond.

Becoming a 'ruralpreneur' might just be the best thing you've ever done!

Thanks to Lori Camire of CFDC Alberni-Clayoquot, for promoting this concept. If you're in BC check out the 'Buy BC Businesses" guides at

5 Reasons to Consider Opening a Business or New Branch in Rural Canada


Sitting All Day at Work Can Be Dangerous

But, so can standing...

Cornell University has studied the effects of sitting and standing all day at work and report some interesting facts that today's employers and workers would do well to consider. In today's world, we all sit more at work than our parents did and certainly more than their parent's generation. But, is this a good thing? Maybe not.

Apparently, if we sit for more than an hour a whole bunch of chemical changes take place in our body that lead to fat being deposited rather than being absorbed by muscles. It's also possible that sitting for too long may make us more prone to heart and kidney disease.

Sitting of course is necessary to do many jobs because it enables us to perform tasks that rely on fine motor skills more effectively. That's why we drive sitting down and graphic designers usually design at desks. Having said that, ergonomics specialists have for many years encouraged us to get up occasionally and move around. And, the proliferation and increasing popularity of standing desks shows there is interest in becoming more mobile in the office.

There is little doubt that frequent small breaks are good for our bodies and our overall performance and productivity. But, if sitting for too long can be detrimental to our health, what about standing for too long?

Well, we all know that if we stand too long we get tired. It puts pressure on our cardiovascular system and can increase our chances of developing varicose veins. And what about those fine motor skills? If we stand, our performance might be compromised. So, standing all day is not the answer to the negative effects of sitting all day, obviously.

By now, you'd think the simple answer is the sit-stand workstation mentioned earlier, but in Cornell's field studies they found few benefits. This was mainly due to people only standing infrequently and for very short periods of time. In fact, it would appear once the novelty wears off, people tend to revert to their old habit of sitting at their computer all the time. And, there were also posture issues that can cause health risks to neck and wrists.

All sorts of other, almost gimmicky, ideas have been tried such as having workstations that double as bicycles or training machines; not unexpectedly these resulted in poor work performance.

Cornell University's advice for better and healthier ergonomics at work is to follow a regimen of standing for eight minutes every 20 minutes and move around for two minutes.

Apparently, the exact timing is less of an issue than to at least have a movement break every twenty to thirty minutes - not just stand, but move around to a point where you are stimulating blood circulation to your muscles. No need to do calisthenics, walking around the office, or your home will be sufficient. If you are in a meeting stand up for a while, walk up and down a flight of stairs every hour, go and get a coffee from a coffee shop a block or two away. It really doesn't matter - what counts is that you get into the habit of moving while working rather than just sitting and listening to your arteries clog up.

Source: Cornell University Ergonomics Web

5 Reasons to Consider Opening a Business or New Branch in Rural Canada


Coach's Corner - The Myth of Multitasking

"When we think we're multitasking we're actually multi-switching. That is what the brain is very good at doing - quickly diverting its attention from one place to the next. We think we're being productive. We are, indeed, being busy. But in reality we're simply giving ourselves extra work." Michael Harris, Author

Often we have heard people say they are good at multitasking as a source of pride. Multitasking was almost a buzzword for efficiency and effectiveness in the business world. People seemed to aspire to being good multitaskers.

There are certain mundane tasks that we can do while concentrating on another thing or two. Generally, these are rote or habitual tasks that make up our day and do not require our full attention. Brushing our teeth and thinking of the conversation we will be having later with a colleague, is a kind of multi-tasking. The part of the brain we use for thinking is not able to do two tasks at the same time, this is why we see laws being changed about texting or speaking on a hand-held cell phone when driving. We as a society have learned that "multi-switching" can lead to dire consequences.

When it comes to the important things in life, we need to focus on what is important, what requires our attention, and what needs to be done. Recently in a prelude to a meditation, Oprah Winfrey said her day starts with three important questions that helps her focus on the best use of her time. We can certainly benefit from reflecting upon these questions.

The first question is, what is really important? The idea of focusing on what it is we should be concentrating on as we move through our day. Keeping mindful of the "goal" of the day, ensures we make time to work on it without distraction.

Second, we need to think of what else has to be done. It may not be related to the first question but it does figure into our day. This may be a personal errand or activity that is outside of the working day. It may not seem as important to us, yet it needs to be accomplished. (If we end up not doing it and it didn't matter then we need to ask, why was it on the list?)

Her third question relates to deciding how much time and attention we will allocate to both questions during the day. This is an integral part of planning our day in a thoughtful and constructive way.

It all comes back to focusing on the important parts of our life and rejecting the unimportant aspects. We need to take control and get in the habit of asking these types of questions each and every day.

"The scarcity of time is the reason we have to concentrate on one thing at a time." Matt Perman, Author

Paul Abra, Certified Executive Coach, Motivated Coaching and Development


Community Futures Alberni-Clayoquot
4757 Tebo Avenue, Port Alberni, BC, V9Y 8A9
Phone: 250-724-1241 | Fax: 250-724-1028