Can You Start Your Business In A Remote Area?

14 Jun

It is very natural for me to write about having an online business in a remote area, as I tend to gravitate toward lightly-populated places. In fact, I lived for 20 years in a house I built myself on Spruce Island, close to Kodiak.

Those 20 years were the culmination of a dream I’d had for some time. Now that I am in another small rural Alaskan community and deeply entrenched in my online business, I can see that my experiences in wilderness living helped me hone the very skills that move my business forward.

For an example, consider gathering firewood. Those two simple words encompass much planning and hours of physical labor. No choice — without wood, the house became very cold. Ifpile of firewood we would adopt the same “no choice” attitude toward our businesses, we might gain surprising success.

When gathering firewood, sometimes my attitude of downright stubbornness was the only thing that brought me success. I’ll share a couple of my favorite stories here:

I spent some time before moving to my homestead learning how to use a chain saw. As I practiced, I improved. I think the biggest log I ever cut up was a piece of “fatwood,” my name for fir, that measured only about 16 feet long, but a good 30 inches across.

The day I discovered that piece of fir was an Easter morning. I had walked in to Ouzinkie, leaving home at 5:30 a.m. in order to arrive in time for the sunrise service at the Baptist mission. Reverend Norman and Joyce Smith gave an Easter service in their little chapel every year, and many villagers attended.

When the service was over, we all trooped upstairs for breakfast. Tables and chairs spread through the main-floor rooms, and sometimes out into the large front hallway. Folks brought potluck breakfast dishes. Joyce always had a large quantity of hard-boiled eggs, colored by her preschoolers, and her famous hot cross buns.

We also enjoyed frosted kulich, the Russian Easter bread baked in round containers, usually coffee cans saved by village bakers for the occasion, along with many other yummy choices.

On this particular Easter, a light snow dusted the ground, as it often did at that season. New clouds high above promised more snow, but not until later in the day. When I got home, full and mellow from the morning, I went down to the beach to see if any new firewood deliveries had come in during the tide change.

man cutting log with chainsaw
My fir log was much larger in diameter

There, right in front of my house, I found my superb Easter present, that magnificent fir log.

I looked it over carefully and found it sound and dry, straight-grained and clear of sand. I envisioned it cut up in my woodpile. I wanted that log! The tide was rising. I could find no convenient tie-downs near the spot. I had no one around to help me. If I wanted it, I had to cut it up myself. So I did.

The job challenged me. It took a long time. When I finally rolled the log over to make my final cut through each round, I felt a sense of triumph akin to that of an Olympic champion. With all the pieces stashed high on the beach and tarped, my satisfaction became a sufficient reward.

When my buddy, Russian Orthodox monk Father Ioasaph, came to visit, and said, “Where did you get that log?” I just said, “Oh, it’s a little something that drifted in.”

I run my remote business through this company

Treat your online business with the same sort of stubborn determination. If you adopt the attitude that you WILL do it, chances are you will succeed.

I was also motivated because the tide was coming in. Developing a sense of urgency about the tasks you have to complete for your business helps a great deal to move you in the right direction.

Here’s another experience I had. In this adventure I was accompanied by my faithful dog, Teddy.

To get my firewood, I used the only boat I had in the water at the time — a little 12-foot dinghy built by Spruce Island’s master skiff-builder, Ed Opheim, Sr. I found it to be a great little rowing boat, easy to maneuver by myself. I went out on every nice day, rowing the Spruce Island shoreline, checking beaches and rock snags for likely logs.

Every day I sawed or chopped a little wood and began filling the empty woodshed. Slowly the line of stacked wood grew.

A summer storm hit, and three nice logs washed up high on Eskimo Cove beach, next door. I

pile of logs
A nice log harvest

tried my best to pry them loose and roll them down to the water, but couldn’t budge them. So I asked my friend, Carl, if he would come out and help me roll them.

The next day, while I spent time in Ouzinkie at our pottery studio, Carl and his son, Kevin, went to the cove, rolled the logs down into the water, tied them in a little raft, and secured them to a tree.

Before I left for home, I stopped by and asked Carl when he could help with the logs. “They’re already in the water,” he said. “You’d better get them home right away, though, as there’s going to be a big Southeast blow tonight.”

I thanked him profusely and hiked the mile and a half trail home at record speed. A Southeast breeze already rippled the water, and I knew I had to get those logs right away.

I run my remote business through this company

I untied the dinghy from the running line. My dog, Teddy, who loved skiff-rides, jumped in with me. He took his seat in the bow, where he could act as a combination watch-dog and figurehead, and we started out.

It took me less than 10 minutes to row next door. I untied the log raft and made sure it floated free, then tied it to the back of the little dinghy. I started rowing, thinking I’d make the return trip quickly and without incident.

Getting out of the cove proved to be slow because of the weight of the logs I pulled, but we moved steadily forward. However, when we emerged from the cove and into unprotected water, I could see that Carl’s prediction of a Southeast blow hit right on the money.

The wind had picked up already. I had to row into it. Now the load I towed became a lead weight, holding me in place; trying to pull me back into the cove.

The message my arms gave me told me that I had rowed for hours and had gotten nowhere. I could have cut my load loose, hoping the logs came to my beach. However, I didn’t want to lose those long, straight-grained, dry logs, one of them coveted yellow cedar.

old sawbuck
My son made me a sawbuck that I used for years

I wanted them on Banjo Beach, well-secured against the coming wind. So I kept rowing for all I was worth. Even the dog got a worried look on his face after sitting in the cold bow for a long time and seeing no change of scenery.

Little by little I made progress toward my goal of the distant shore of Banjo Beach. When we finally landed, both the dog and I felt very relieved. The storm had begun in earnest, now, and rain gathered for a rush at land. I tied my boat and logs securely, and Teddy and I gratefully returned to the house with its warm fire.

The trip that seemed an eternity had taken most of an hour — certainly one of the longest hours I had experienced in some time. I counted my blessings, grateful for our safe return and the bounty of prime firewood.

Give your own business this kind of perseverance, and eventually you will overcome your obstacles and can set a straight course for success.

Last, but not least, a word about my favorite wooding activity, cutting kindling. I have often compared cutting kindling to accomplishing a goal. I’d start with a round of wood. I always used red cedar for kindling.

First, I’d chop the round into slabs… One could equate choosing the round and cutting it into slabs as setting a large goal, then dividing it into smaller manageable pieces.

On a beautiful day, splitting cedar into fire starter on my chopping block in the front yard gave me exercise for body, mind and spirit. The rhythm of the axe made woodcutting like a dance. Joy rose with the motion, as the kindling formed the seed for a full-grown fire, sure to ward off winter’s chill.

My daily blaze of crackling logs had to begin with these little strips that fell off the larger wood with the urging of my axe.

You might say I practiced goal-setting and persistence simply with my lifestyle. Self-reliance and the strength to stick with something and the attitude that I could find a way around any problem were character-forming skills that help me every day with my online business.

These are excerpts from my book, Alaskan Attitudes. If you would like your own copy, click on the image or the blue link and you will be taken to Amazon, where you can order a copy.  Please note that as I am an Amazon affiliate, I will make a small commission on the sale.

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10 Replies to “Can You Start Your Business In A Remote Area?

  1. Fantastic and very inspiring story Fran, I was riveted from the first paragraph! Your perseverance you have developed and honed by being self-reliant living in remote areas you still carry into your ONLINE BUSINESS TODAY.

    It’s no wonder that you are also succeeding in the online world, much as you never gave up rowing your red cedar logs into Banjo Beach. A total triumph!

    • Thanks for the comment, Kaju. I am glad you enjoyed the story. I was so fortunate to have had that experience. It has helped form my character, for sure. Hopefully, the attitude I learned on Spruce Island will help my business grow. I think it will.

  2. hi! Nice article you have here! I would say that you motivated me about your story. I too live in a small village with a very slow Internet connection so I am having a hard to work on my business online. Most of the time s pend my time in the farm planting and doing some farm stuffs.

    About the wood you are cutting, No once been able to cut wood fast at the beginning. It takes time and practice, hard work and persistence before you could say “oh it is easy to cut woods”. Just like doing business, You need dedication, Persistence, Hard work so that you can finally say yes I’m doing great! Two thumbs up to you!

    • Thanks for your comment.  Yes, slow internet can be very frustrating.  However, keep at it…it is a way to help yourself in the future.  You can plant seeds of ideas in  your website and watch them grow.

      No, cutting wood takes a while to learn to do well, and it is always work.  It’s good, honest labor, though, and you feel like you have made a great accomplishment when the winter wood is all in.  

  3. Hello!

    Good to know about you and your workings. Doing business in a remote area is so hard. It requires more hard work. Good to know about your works of wooden goods. It is inspiring. It will help us to do something in our remote areas. There will so many obstacles as you said and giving prevalence they can be overcome really. Nothing is so easy at first. Practicing can give the perfection.

    However, Thanks for sharing such experiences that is so helpful for the beginners to start their business.

    • Everything seems to have its own learning curve.  The one for learning the internet is a long curve, as there is so much to get your head around.  Every experience that teaches you something that strengthens and builds is helpful, and those lessons help as well with learning the internet.  

      Obstacles can be overcome, if we just work at it and don’t give up.

  4. Wonderful and inspiring story Fran. Using your stories of collecting firewood and building up a supply logs and kindling for your fires could be compared to the training and new knowledge that is required in the affiliate marketing business. 

    Not only learning how to wield a chainsaw and keeping the chain sharp, but how to use a double bit ax. All are essential where you are and here in the South also for wood cutting just as proper grammar, a good imagination, the use of personal stories, website literacy, and integrity is important in the online world.  



    • Yes, yes, keeping the chain sharp.  It took me longer to learn to sharpen the chain on the saw than it did to learn how to use the saw.  I used to take my chain in to Kodiak when I went in and get it sharpened at the hardware store, where a man did nothing but repair and sharpen chain saws.  Finally learned to do a fairly decent job myself.  

      Any kind of story with a good lesson is a good teaching tool.  I use them whenever I can.

  5. I got hooked up with your article, reading from start to finish. There’s a lot of lessons we can learn from it. Indeed perseverance pays off. Rowing your boat and having the feeling of going nowhere but you still did not give up is a good attitude that makes a person succeed. It applies also to our daily life struggles at home, at work or in a business. 

    Your determination, perseverance and a goal makes you successful and I hope every reader can pick up these lessons.

    I started my online business last year, I went through the phase of almost giving up but instead of falling out into the pit of my weakness, I drew strength from my family. They inspired me to keep on moving until slowly I can see the fruit of my labor.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story, such an inspiration to all readers.

    • Thank you for your comment, Gillian.  I’m glad you enjoyed my little story.  Life on Spruce Island was quite an adventure, and I learned many things while there.  My mindset that worked well there also works well when building my business.  

      Glad you were able to continue moving forward with your business.  You, too, must be destined for success.

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