What factors are important when launching a regional start-up?

Setting up a new business in a regional location can be challenging.

The path to setting up a new business is often difficult, but pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams in regional or rural areas brings unique challenges that you will need to address.

That's not to say regional businesses can't flourish; nearly one-quarter of Australian start-ups are founded outside capital cities, according to a recent report from Universities Australia and Startup Muster.

However, you'll need to take into account a range of key factors before taking the plunge.

1. High-speed internet access

Australia is among the wealthiest nations in the world, yet the country ranked only 50th for connection speeds in the latest Akamai State of the Internet report.

The National Broadband Network rollout is designed to provide high-speed internet to all Australians, including those in regional and remote locations, but the project isn't without detractors. The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman said complaints about the network increased 160 per cent in the 2016-17 financial year.

Business owners should therefore identify how important network connectivity is for their start-up and research whether their desired location has fast, reliable internet.

2. Access to skilled workers

Businesses based in capital cities can choose from a larger pool of talented candidates. Established brands typically have headquarters in key cities, which naturally draws the attention of highly skilled and ambitious workers.

Regional areas, particularly ones with underdeveloped transport links and fewer amenities, often attract fewer applicants. This can create difficulties for start-ups that require specialist skills or operate in niche industries.

The Runway Geelong project provides start-ups with between $15,000 and $30,000 of funding.

You can explore a range of options, including recruiting internationally, providing attractive remuneration packages and offering apprenticeships and traineeships to existing workers. Experienced business advisory experts can also connect you with local organisations to help with staffing problems.

3. Regional funding opportunities

Accessing finance is a common problem for new businesses, and regionally based start-ups are no exception. Researching what grants, loans and other funding opportunities are available can provide a significant boost for your budding business.

For example, the state government launched the Runway Geelong project in 2016, which provides selected start-ups with between $15,000 and $30,000 of funding. Businesses also receive mentors, access to co-working spaces and discounted professional services and products.

A range of alternative funding options is available through federal and state governments, as well as banks and other financial institutions.

If you'd like to discuss the best ways to start a new business in regional Victoria, book an appointment with one of our expert tax accountants at WMC Accounting today.

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