How to be Self-Employed in the Country

Catherine Dybiec Holm shares how to create a job for yourself and be self-employed in the country.

| August/September 2002

How to become self-employed in the country.

Being self-employed in the country can make a lot of sense, since traditional jobs may be few and far between. If you are suited for this particular way of working, the joy of being able to craft your own place in the world doing something you love, is beyond words.

In 1995, my husband accepted a job in a remote area of Minnesota. We live eight miles from the closest town, population 680. I've become a freelance writer, and here are my tips for others who want to become self-employed:

Do something you excel at and have a passion for. You will need your passion and enthusiasm to maintain your momentum. Self-employment can be a lonely venture (for those in the country, possibly lonelier). You're it: There's no one to turn to when something goes wrong. On the other hand, your successes are your own.

Constantly assess yourself and your business with an honest eye. Don't overextend yourself and try to offer every service possible if you're not prepared. Word spreads fast in the country, which can work for you (marketing, word of mouth) or against you (dissatisfied customers, perceived bad service).

If you've moved from the city, learn to rethink your approach to certain aspects of running a business. Use mail order for supplies rather than running to the store. Be prepared to deal with slow phone lines or power outages if you depend on the Internet or fax. Long-distance charges for phone calls can add up quickly. Watch your expenses: Gasoline costs and mileage are higher in the country.

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