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What Makes A Rural Entrepreneur?


Recently I asked friends from across the country what word(s) best described someone who was an entrepreneur. Some were entrepreneurs themselves and others were not. I targeted people with rural backgrounds or connections to rural areas to see if there might be any differences from the normal buzz words associated with entrepreneurs. It was an interesting mix of words and contained some new ones I might not have associated with an entrepreneur. Here some thoughts on each of the words and exactly how they tie into being an entrepreneur.
1. Risk-taker – Entrepreneurs are always willing to take that step off the cliff to achieve their dreams. They will look at all the angles to protect themselves as best they can, but ultimately they will take the leap. This is especially true in rural areas as you have distance, population and connectivity to overcome.
2. Innovative – Not everyone is going to invent the next Apple, but in every way entrepreneurs are innovative in thinking and thought process and not held back by “it can’t be done” thinking.
3. Independent – Entrepreneurs like making the decisions, having flexibility and setting the rules.
4. Resourceful – Entrepreneurs are like my Dad – give him some baling wire and he could fix anything on the ranch. Today it might be more closely associated with using duct tape, but you get the picture. Entrepreneurs find a way and a solution for what they need.
5. Creative – Not necessarily an artist, musician or actor, but more in the realm of “outside the box” thinkers, entrepreneurs always have a vision in their minds.
6. Free-thinker – According to Wikipedia – “a person who forms opinions on the basis of reason, independent of authority or tradition,….” yep that’s an entrepreneur
7. Ambassador – This one was a little different, but ambassadors do step out and help others and serve as messengers of that big unknown world of entrepreneurship
8. Achiever – Some of the synonyms for achiever is high-flier, go-getter, doer and self-starter. All are part of an entrepreneur’s makeup.
9. Leader – Is this a true trait of an entrepreneur? Some are great leaders and yet others are not. Some leaders are not great entrepreneurs either. This could be a good “chicken or egg” debate.
10. Open – Entrepreneurs are often open and vulnerable to either great loss or great success.
11. Passion – Entrepreneurs truly believe in what they are doing. As stated by Anthony Robbins, “There is no greatness without a passion to be great, whether it’s the aspiration of an athlete or an artist, a scientist, a parent, or a businessperson.”
12. Prosperity – There is absolutely no reason to be an entrepreneur without the goal of prosperity as your end result. There are, however, different interpretations on what constitutes prosperity, and each entrepreneur needs to find his definition.
13. Progressive – Generally entrepreneurs will be ahead of everyone else around them in seeking out new ideas and putting new spins on tried and true projects.
14. Self-Motivated – Entrepreneurs do not need someone else to get them started, they work as much as needed and more to accomplish their goals.
15. Determination /Persistence – Definitely a plus for an entrepreneur. Without determination you won’t succeed. You will find people who put obstacles in your way, people who don’t support you and constant challenges in building your business. These traits are essential.
16. Driven – A little different take on determination and persistence. Driven is more like having that fire in your belly that makes an entrepreneur believe they have what it takes to succeed.
17. Energetic – This is one often overlooked. You need to be prepared both mentally and physically to work long hours and to handle rejection and bounce back. You need that energy to always put on the best face to your customers, suppliers and others you come in touch with daily.

This is a pretty long list, but entrepreneurs are a complex group of individuals. Someone might have added “nuts” to the list and they would probably be right. Entrepreneurs go where others fear to tread. Let us know if you think we missed a trait.
Finally, while we were looking for traits of rural entrepreneurs, it appears they have the same basic traits as our urban entrepreneurs. They may face more challenges of distance, population and technology, but the traits they possess are the same.
Sage Strategies is a small business consulting firm working with rural business, nonprofits and local governments in project management, marketing, social media, nonprofit administration, strategic planning, event planning and coaching.

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