Country Living Is The Best Revenge
It may be true, as you write in "The Call of the Country" (Winter, 2005), that rural businesses are less profitable than urban ones and that rural entrepreneurs may, by some definitions, be less skilled than urban ones. But to focus only on profitability and skills is to miss an important story about rural entrepreneurship.
Rural business owners may earn less profit than urban ones, but the cost of living is usually lower in rural areas. Self-employed rural people don't need to earn as much to stay in business.
In rural communities, customers are not just another source of income. Instead, customers are neighbors, friends, and other businesses in town. Everyone knows everyone. Business owners who do a good job at a fair price will get repeat customers. Those that charge urban rates, or whatever the market will bear, are likely to lose their customers -- and their friends. Rural businesses often are successful exactly because they don't make a large urban-size profit.
As for your statement that "Rural America could use more skilled entrepreneurs," I would ask: Skilled at what? My auto mechanic, the local plumber, our doctor, the guy who built my computer, and the woman who teaches horse riding to my girls are all highly skilled. They do excellent work, and they earn a good income. They support their families, send their kids to college, go out to dinner, take vacations, and enjoy life. What better skills could anyone want?
Bernard Kamoroff, CPA