People are seriously considering a move to a rural area now more than ever, and more who are born there are staying. Mostly because they can.
The internet is shrinking the world. Now, we can operate a business from anywhere and serve a local or global market (or both). It can be entirely internet-based or an offline business that utilizes the internet for national and international sales & marketing.
Gone are the days when most people had to leave rural Canada to find work. Now many can simply offer their services online, start a business on their own, or work for a company remotely.
The internet opens an entirely new and promising market for rural Canada. The benefits to them and their communities are vast and far-reaching. It puts rural areas on a level playing field with Canada’s urban centres, in regards to opportunities.
Thanks to the internet, you have the same tools available to you that huge corporations have, and most of them are affordable. You can hire the very best staff in the world if you like, while still employing local people if the physical operations are more than you can currently handle alone.
Plus, online business opportunities go far beyond selling physical products. Digital products, services and content are all viable revenue models, individually or a combination thereof. Even selling physical products can be completely ‘hands off’ online. You can explore drop shipping, for example, or use fulfillment centres to store, manage and ship your products. For more ideas, please read 5 Online Business Startups for People in Rural Canadian Communities.
Tip: Grants and other funding are sometimes available for businesses in small, isolated communities. Check your local government business websites to see what kind of support is available to you.
Now that Canadians are more aware of what the internet has to offer, I fully expect the number of rural small businesses in Canada will grow exponentially. Whether they’re started by current residents, new residents who want to improve their lifestyle, or digital nomads who are constantly doing business on the move.
Current Canadian Small Business Stats for Rural Areas
Statistics Canada released the following rural business data in 2022, but the data only covers activity up to 2019. I’m excited to see more recent data as we watch Canadian rural businesses come into their own, which should become available annually from here on in.
There were 312,500 small businesses in Canada’s rural areas in 2019. That’s 15.4 percent of all Canadian small businesses, and 14.5 percent of Canadian medium-sized businesses.
Rural small businesses brought in $139,300 million in total revenue in 2019. They enjoyed higher-than-average revenues by comparison to their urban counterparts, at $443,700 from 2017-2019. The average revenue for the same time period for urban businesses was 11.8 percent less. Additionally, urban small business annual revenue decreased by 1 percent, while rural businesses gained a percentage point.
Canadian provinces with higher-than-average rural small business revenues in 2019 were Nunavut ($678,400), Saskatchewan ($517,800) and Manitoba ($508,800).
The industries with the highest share of revenues among rural small businesses in 2019 were agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, construction, and retail trade. These three industries accounted for almost 53 percent of the revenue generated by small businesses in rural areas in 2019.
The Digital Future is Bright in Rural Canada
Having grown up in rural Canada, I’ve watched small business growth in these areas with great interest. It’s always been clear to me that the internet could bring greater prosperity to each province, leading to a richer Canada. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, this amazing tool can work for anyone, anywhere.
Note: Small businesses are defined by Statistics Canada as those businesses that have annual revenues of $30,000 – $5,000,000; this group includes incorporated and unincorporated businesses.
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Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In over 20 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and eCommerce websites.
Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.