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Ted and his girlfriend Melissa live on and lease about 23 acres on a 114-acre farm in central Illinois. They are out in the middle of nowhere. A grocery store (not a supermarket) is 23 miles away give or take.
They moved there 6 years ago as a result of a mid-life identity check. They wanted to work for themselves.
They had no idea how to support themselves; literally, no idea at all.
Their home, really, it's an over-sized shed with a working water well, telephone, out house and an acre and a half pond adjacent. Not bad considering.
They spent the first month or so on the hunt. That is, they did a practical search to hopefully find a niche that they would like to invest in. They were determined to find the right rural small business.
They visited the U of Illinois School of Agriculture picking the minds of professors for non-traditional farming ideas.
They met with scores of folks in the three surrounding counties: co-ops, church congregations, county extension offices, women's groups of every description, small town merchants, county development offices, farmers and even searched online for ideas.
Each contact led to more contacts. Their search stretched on to more than 2 months.
and Melissa each decided to start an enterprise they hoped would be profitable. (It was, very profitable.)
Ted’s New Business:
His market research paid off big time. He decided to start a beekeeping business.
He received State Economic Development Start Up funding because farmers needed to increase their crop yield through increased bee pollination. In other words, there was a shortage of honeybees.
Farmers also wanted Ted to move a hive or two to their fields when the crop was in bloom. He charged for this service.
He also decided to focus on Queen Bee mating which allowed him to sell bee swarms.
And, of course, he packaged and sold honey, very good honey.
Ted made a small investment to educate him in the art of beekeeping (bee keeping to some). He purchased 2 valuable resources.
Penn State University offers a well-respected online course in beekeeping.
Want to easily learn how to build a beehive?
There may not be a simpler way to construct a welcoming home for honeybees.
Nick Winters lays it all out with videos and PDF guides in his beehive construction kit. Simple. Low Budget. And, it works!
When I last chatted with Ted, he was seriously considering modifying his pond and raise frog(legs). He’s really excited about it!
Melissa’s New Business:
Actually, Melissa works alongside Ted in the bee business.
But she also contributes to the family finances. She started an online drop shipping business promoting beekeeping supplies.
She mentioned to me that she knew nothing about building an effective website. She had many fears, all of which were unfounded.
She uses a company called Site Build It (SBI) to build her site. She is doing quite well!
The approach to searching for a rural small business is the same as in the city…market research. In Ted and Melissa’s case, making the effort to find out the needs of the community led them to success.
Sometimes you may already have an idea of what kind of a company you want to start in a rural area. Most of the time, however, just meeting with folks, asking for their advice and support to find your niche opportunity, is all it takes.
Thank you for visiting The Search for a Small Rural Business Opportunity.