Could You Relocate Your Business to Regional Australia?
Australian capital cities are becoming increasingly less affordable to live in and it’s little wonder more people are considering the illusive tree or sea change.
If the thought of a more laid back, affordable and picturesque lifestyle appeals to you keep in mind that moving to regional Australia entails many and varied options. Options which certainly aren’t limited to one horse towns literally plonked in the middle of ‘the bush’.
Regional living also encompasses regional cities and larger towns that can provide an easier transition post city living. These cities are equipped with added niceties including public transport, airports, fast internet, housing availability and spaces on the local GP list (which smaller towns don’t always have).
Fourteen years ago I relocated my consulting business (and family) to my hometown located just 45 minutes south of one of these regional cities. Since, I’ve found that living ‘at home’ not only provided an affordable and healthy lifestyle for my family to grow within, it’s also been a place for my business to thrive.
If you are considering relocating your business to regional Australia consider the following points:
1. A viable business model.
Of course this applies to business anywhere. Never think you’ll hang up the shingle and they’ll come. Do your planning (even if it’s a one page business plan), know your numbers and understand your market. If you’ve already been successfully running your business in a city market adapt your model appropriately. If you’re a newbie, get a mentor or some training to support you to understand your model. If you hear yourself saying “nobody sells… in…” there’s quite likely a reason.
2. A relevant offering.
If you want to bring the ‘new best thing’ to the regions keep in mind that country people can be a little slower to adopt new ideas – at least en-masse, so if you need a lot of foot traffic to make your business work make sure you have alternate markets (perhaps a satellite office, online store or stockists in other areas).
A few years ago I added business and lifestyle coaching to my business mix hoping to shift the offerings in this direction. Even though a few of my existing clients tried it out, it was a relatively new concept to my geographic area and certainly not something people were ready to embrace. In the end I was pleased I hadn’t dumped my initial offering as the slow speed of customer take-up would have left me starving.
3. Be prepared to travel.
The successful regionally based hospitality businesses I know supplement their income with catering, consultants work over geographies sometimes extending beyond 500kms (and many hang onto more lucrative city contracts), creative industries and education professionals use the internet to source clients all over the world, farmers ship their produce to city markets and even tradies expect to cover the kms in their utes. Of course there are some businesses that kill it in retail, hospitality, business services and even hair and beauty from the one site but keep in mind this isn’t just good luck.
Scratch the surface and you’ll probably discover these businesses will either (1) sell a premium product (2) be incredibly well networked and have a loyal following (3) have low overheads and high profit margins (4) do not require a lot of money to live off.
4. Relationships, relationships, relationships.
In the country word of mouth is the lifeblood of promotion. If you don’t have a network, or if people don’t like or trust you, don’t expect to pick up local customers. Building relationships takes time. If you’re a newbie visit the pub, join local groups (rural fire brigade, Rotary, Lions, School P&C, Toastmasters, a sports group – whatever tickles your fancy), just meet people. If either you or your partner seeks out some part time work that’s also a good way to get to know others. Network via your kids, meet your neighbours, attend local events.
Oh, and by the way, as you’re meeting people don’t ram information about your new business down their throats, they’ll work that out soon enough. Just let them get to know you and the rest will follow.
5. Consider your business location carefully.
The price of regional commercial rent may give you a pleasant surprise so if you’re used to being in a home office environment check out what’s on offer, or even consider the idea of co-locating. Being visible will help you to settle into a new location, it will also open new networks for both your business and personal life. When you’re searching for space check out the surrounding businesses, do they compliment your offering? Do you like the general ‘vibe’ of the space and surrounds?
Above all, remember that many regional centres now have airports that are less than an hour’s drive away should you need to access customers or a dose of city life. There are many entities tasked to assist relocaters. If this is something that interests you, contact either the local Council or the Regional Development Australia entity associated to the area.
Personally, I can’t ever see myself going back to city living. What are you waiting for?
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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