Over the past few months, I have travelled around the Finnish countryside, meeting energetic entrepreneurs and regional developers. An enthusiasm to create new types of business in the countryside has spread from one municipality to another. Sitra’s Onni workbook (Happiness – only in Finnish) has proved to be useful and, in the best cases, provoked positive anarchy among regional developers.
In this context, positive anarchy refers to new thinking that transforms traditional operating methods. Take one example, the municipality of Rautalampi in central Finland, which is in the process of establishing the world’s first countrysideHUB, a meeting place for operators from different fields that enables them to include local aspects in national and international networks.
New approaches are needed. People are seeking different things than before in the countryside: well-being, recreation, safe and relaxing living environments, more self-sufficient lifestyles, well-functioning network and traffic connections and, above all, opportunities to do things differently than in towns and cities. It is important to encourage operators in the Finnish countryside to identify their strengths and bravely combine them with the increasing business opportunities. Practical examples and easy-to-use tools are needed to facilitate change.
Here are a few tips for entrepreneurs and developers in the countryside to work on their strategies:
1. Map your competences
What are your competences and strengths in relation to the phenomena that facilitate change? The more trends you can respond to, the more solid a foundation you are laying.
2. Join forces
Which operators should you collaborate with to create a unique combination? What additional resources would you need to make such a collaboration a reality? Network and also make use of unexpected and surprising opportunities.
3. Join resources
How could you join resources with other operators to leverage your competences and effectiveness? Collaboration brings clear benefits in marketing, distribution, communications, product development and many other areas.
4. Create a clear vision
Is my idea flexible? Will it create new jobs and business opportunities for others as well? Grow your business by actively creating and testing service concepts and solution models that support your core operations.
Creating an inspiring vision at the municipal level requires the courage of decision-makers to respond to changes in the operating environment. In addition, it requires offering as many residents as possible an opportunity to participate in the development work.
5. Be original
Are you offering something unique – something that only your municipality can offer? If so, you will have a significant competitive advantage.
Current trends favour the countryside. People want to move to the countryside if the countryside is ready to respond to the challenge. RautalampiHUB is a prime example of making use of positive anarchy and new user groups in a municipal business strategy.
Kati Hienonen, Trend Analyst
Trend Analyst Kati Hienonen predicts consumer trends in various sectors through her business, Perhosvaikutus (“Butterfly Effect”). She is also a partner at Kausaali, a training and coaching company specialising in responsible business.
RautalampiHUB in central Finland