Running A Small Business In The Rural Southwest

Recently, I had the opportunity to hop on the phone with StartUp Colorado. They wanted to know what it was like to be an entrepreneur in a rural setting and what some of the challenges are. I was happy to oblige, because there are many challenges, but there are many rewards as well. Starting your own business shouldn’t have to depend on where you are living. With the advent of the internet, it’s possible to do things now that we could have never imaged, even twenty years ago. Things like starting a business in a location where no people live.

I am going to share with you the three largest challenges that Cold Case Gear has been faced with and forced to overcome.

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  1. We are not located in the beating heart of commerce. When this business was started, we lived just over an hour away from Denver. There were meetups we could go to, Pitch events to apply to, and a very robust support network for like minded entrepreneurs. Help was just down the road. This is not the case in Pagosa Springs. While there are still the pitch events and networks of support available in far away lands, it isn’t exactly simple to attend them. Starting your own business often means doing whatever it takes to get things accomplished. Say for instance, having money to pay some of the costs of doing business, and a mortgage. I work a full time 9-5, so to go and take advantage of these programs means thinking way in advance and taking time off to do so.

  2. Lack of workforce. Often time, we have the need to solicit the help of marketing professionals, product designers, etc. Well, those things do not exist in abundance here. In fact, I find myself lucky to have found some help locally, within the city of Durango,. 52 miles away. This is not conducive for a quick meet and great or grabbing a beer to discuss a project. If I did not have Durango nearby, I would be looking at an additional cost for posting jobs as well as mailing materials back and forth. Despite what the younger generations think, mine included, it is always better to meet and talk with someone in person.

  3. Lack of decent internet connectivity. So, this is the big one. While having an internet connection has made it possible to start a business where there is no real physical infrastructure to support it, it doesn’t exactly make it easy. Here in my rural corner of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, the best connection I can muster from Centurylink is a whopping 3mbps download and a cringeworthy upload speed of .25mbps. This has vastly increased our Cost Of Doing Business, as we have had to purchase an additional internet connection, via an internet service. While the download speeds quite high, the upload speeds still struggle. When you are needing to video conference, upload photos and videos, this can make things challenging. Say for instance, I need to get content for a new email marketing campaign. I want to run it the following morning after a photoshoot. Well, it can take as long as fifteen minutes to upload a single photo, and we often have hundreds of photos to upload and edit. Having a poor connection is absolutely a detrimental to running our business successfully, and it adds a ton of cost.

     

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During our interview with StartUp Colorado, we were asked if location was a consideration when starting our business. I told them absolutely not. I would give this advice to anyone out there who is thinking of starting a business as well. For me, the dream of starting a business mostly came from my desire to have true freedom. Most people live and work in a big city. They have to be where the jobs are. What if that wasn’t the case? What if you could roam the planet while working for yourself? That was the dream of Cold Case Gear. That one day, we would be profitable and we wouldn’t need to set our roots in the concrete of a big city. Though I am fortunate to work for a business that I love and support, in my 9-5, I am excited that this little startup may one day mean that I can set off for some much needed time on the road. For now, my quarter mile long gravel driveway that leads to our house overlooking the mountains, is where I want to be. But if that ever changes, I’ll be glad to know that I do not need to be bound by location anymore.