What's on the minds of rural small business owners? We took some to 10 Downing Street to find out

What's on the minds of rural small business owners? We took some to 10 Downing Street to find out
Polly Dhaliwal

Posted: Mon 9th Jul 2018

The latest Enterprise Nation trip to 10 Downing Street with members and partners meeting Jimmy McLouglin, business adviser to the prime minister, focused on rural entrepreneurs. Several of the attendees joined Enterprise Nation via our partnership with Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

The attendees:

The subjects discussed:


Joanna Morgan, who creates preserves including the world's best marmalade from rural Wales, said her biggest challenge is distribution. "We are land locked and two hours away from a motorway". She suggested reduced petrol costs for businesses like hers, and help with managing free delivery.

Sandra from Aldwick Wines also raised the cost of shipping heavy items and suggested government help with the costs.


The topic of internet speed came up several times, with a number of rural business owners complaining about a lack of bandwidth which is hindering their growth prospects.

Richard Marsh from CIS said his company is implementing a tech solution to provide affordable connections for rural businesses.


The government is working on making all businesses fully digital through efforts such as Making Tax Digital. But Michael Dyer from ICAEW said many rural businesses aren't ready.


Self-employed shepherd Chris Farnsworth, who runs corporate team building events on farms, said he wants to expand but feels that employing his first employee means tackling a regulation "minefield" with areas such as pensions and other HR rules.


Karen from Second Nature, who exports across the world, questioned current statistics on the number of businesses selling online.

She said there are actually a lot more who are doing so via marketplaces like Amazon and eBay and called for more support for business owners on these platforms who are often exporters.


Dawn Crossingham raised the costs of travel to and from London. She said to make morning meetings, she needs to pay three times more in travel and the time it takes to get from rural areas to the city is extremely long.

Business support

Katrina Rowton-Lee runs a bed and breadfast and said she initially struggled to find help and advice before Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership provided support. She said rural entrepreneurs should be helped with finding support networks.

Justin from The Pop Up Gym praised the support he received. He got a Start Up Loan through Enterprise Nation partner Transmit StartUps and set up his company creating gyms in empty buildings.

"I want to say a huge thankyou to the system," he said. "I was homeless for two years and turned to alcohol. The council put me into a house, got me clean off alcohol and then helped me set up my business."

ICYMI! Thank you to @e_nation & @jimmym for the extraordinary experience of going behind the doors at No.10. A huge privilege to represent small #business & for our voices to be so respectfully heard 🙂 #ruralissues

— Brilliant Fish (@brilliantfish) July 7, 2018

Talking about #conserves with the #conservatives today - many thanks to @jimmym @emmaljones and @e_nation for the constructive opportunity to discuss problems facing #ruralbusinesses @FoodDrinkWales

— Radnor Preserves (@RadnorPreserves) July 5, 2018

Today I had the honour of being invited to 10 Downing Street by @e_nation to talk about the issues rural businesses face. It was a great day and I just had to have my photo taken in front of the infamous Black door#ENmember #ruralbusiness #colourguru

— Dawn Scott - Colour Guru (@DawnScottColour) July 5, 2018

So this doesn't happen every day! We were thrilled to be invited by @e_nation and @OxLEPBusiness to join a cohort of amazing businesses to share our views on what government can do to help rural enterprise survive and thrive! #ruralbusiness #startuplife #foodsurplus #Oxfordshire

— The Wonky Food Co (@wonkyfoodco) July 5, 2018

Polly Dhaliwal
Hi, my names Polly, i'm head of platform here at Enterprise Nation - which is the beating heart of the company. I strives every day to ensure we are doing the job of connecting small businesses to the support they need at the right time! I'm passionate about helping start-ups and small businesses grow and providing them with the right resources at the right time....reach out if you have any questions about how we can support your business and of course improve our product!

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