Need funding for the next stage of your business?

Corn porridge sold from a stand in a yard, a mobile trailer and a cafe

Rather than seeking outside funding to start, Shawn Anderson has developed his corn kernel business from his backyard and on the road before buying an existing business in Webster City, Iowa. Photos via Deb Brown.

If you need external funds to move to the next stage of your small rural business, your next step is too important.

Before you bet big on your business idea, test it in small steps. Make sales in your garden, then try a kiosk, then a trailer, then think about setting up in a small building.

Before borrowing money to buy new equipment, find a simpler solution. Borrow or rent equipment temporarily. Share material with another company, dividing costs. Outsource this part of the production to another company. Re-engineer your product or process so that you do not need this equipment after all.

Before you go into debt to repair an old building, think smaller. Find a tiny space to occupy first. Share a space with an existing business. Go mobile. Open smaller in a few cities rather than just bet on one place.

Go Small or Go Home

It's a hard-won rural wisdom. Better to stay small than to go into debt heavily. Expect your income to be zero. Do not take more responsibility than you can handle. Be prepared to buy banks, sell loan portfolios and resell them to unsympathetic lenders. These are part of the rules of the small town: to be small to become big and to plan for zero.

Did you take small steps?

If you have a story about taking small steps to stay independent, I'd love to hear about it.

New on Take the guided tour. Love what you see? Receive our updates.

About Becky McCray

Becky launched Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share stories and ideas of building businesses and rural communities with other small businessmen. She and her husband own an Alva, Oklahoma liquor store and a small ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.

  • Need a business idea in the city center? Try a Cookie Crawl – 22 July 2019
  • Need funding for the next stage of your business? – 17 July 2019
  • Youth business idea: telephone clinics – 8 July 2019
  • The chain link is everywhere in the city centers. Here's how to dress it up. – 30th June 2019
  • Stop using "3 foot stool" to describe an idea – June 24, 2019
  • What are your challenges? Add your voice here – 17 June 2019
  • How to make your bike lanes known before they are completed – June 10, 2019
  • How $ 5 and a bowl of soup can rebuild your community – 3 June 2019
  • Bring people to mix at an event – May 27, 2019
  • Crowdsourced Ideas for Cafes and Other Third Places – May 20, 2019

<! –