For Rural Business Owners

~3 min read
Amanda Hailey from the Glengarry Market

Business Sisters celebrates women business owners and entrepreneurs everywhere. Though you’ll notice we focus more on ventures in rural areas and small-towns. There are very personal and self-serving reasons for that decision, I will admit.

A small town is where I grew up. I moved away for school and my early career. I actually couldn’t wait to leave – but that’s a conversation for another day. Though I didn’t go back to my own hometown, I returned to rural living in my mid-30s, after my Toronto corporate life proved less than accommodating to my new mother status.

The downsides of small town living

Running my first business, I quickly realized entrepreneurship in North Glengarry would be very different than in the city. When we moved here, we thought we were going to operate from home. Our rural internet turned out to be so bad that we had to rent space in nearby Alexandria just so we could have some semblance of high-speed! Sadly the lack of bandwidth is still a harsh reality for many in rural Ontario to this day.

Then there was the absence of a local network. Sure there was the Chamber of Commerce, but there were few women business owners at the time, and no one there was in the B2B space. The closest networking I ever did was in Ottawa or Montreal. On stormy winter nights, I white-knuckled my way home on the 417 many times…

Feeling lonely in business

Even though the business was in partnership with my husband Heinz I often felt alone. It felt like no one could relate to my feelings of obligation (many of which were just in my head, now that I look back). This took on special meaning in a small town. What would people say if I confided any of those feelings? I had employees whose kids were in my daughter’s school. Others were neighbours. Or relatives of neighbours. I had to keep things to myself, for fear of gossip.

And the joys of small town living

Yet for all the drawbacks of small-town living, there are lots of joys too. The space, the fresh air, the sense of community. Like knowing many of our professional contacts at a deeper level because we play curling or golf in the same league. Or buying fresh produce and locally-raised meat from neighboring farmers. There’s comfort in all that.

Business Sisters exists because of the challenges and the pleasures of living and operating a business in a rural area. We look forward to having real conversations about the realities we face every day, so we can build happy, resilient rural communities together.

Thanks for reading.

Doreen Ashton Wagner
Doreen Ashton Wagner
Founder | Fondatrice

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