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Business Success in the Countryside

This study was commissioned by the Department of the Environment to research those factors which determine business success in the countryside. The key objectives of the study were:

  • to assess the nature and possible causes of business creation, location and development in rural areas in England
  • to identify critical success factors and to investigate whether rural enterprises suffer from constraints because of their location in a rural area.

During the investigation, over 1100 firms in rural and urban areas provided information through face to face interviews and/or postal surveys on factors which have contributed to their success, constraints on future growth, the effect of their location, and characteristics of their company. The analysis compared similar business in remote rural, accessible rural and urban locations to identify key differences in the three types of location.

The study showed that the process of rural enterprise development is chiefly due to non-policy, market based influences, Although some of the critical success factors are not amenable to policy intervention, remote rural firms are in need of advice and support to improve management skills and business performance. The level of constraints on rural enterprise are shown to be generally low, but particular problems do inhibit remote rural enterprise development with regard to labour availability, premises and communications.